Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.
It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.
Below is a sample version of this entry that shows how conflict can deepen the story, make a character’s goals harder to achieve, and force them to change or make hard choices to overcome difficulties.
To see the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers’ Conflict Thesaurus (Free Trial available) or buy the book.
Conflict: Discovering a Spouse’s Secret
Category: Power struggles, failures and mistakes, relationship friction, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, loss of control, ego
The spouse is having an affair
The spouse has been hiding an unhealthy addiction
The spouse lost their job and kept it from the character…
Lost sleep due to worry
Minor stress-related health problems (headaches, an ulcer, high blood pressure, etc.)
Relationship friction with the spouse…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
The character’s reputation being ruined
The marriage ending in divorce
Fallout for the character’s children…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Struggling to trust the spouse again
Inner conflict about whether the character should try to work things out or give up on the relationship
Difficulty taking others at their word…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: the spouse, children, parents, the spouse’s accomplices or victims, families of those people
Resulting Emotions: Anger, anguish, anxiety, appalled, apprehension, betrayed, bitterness, confusion…
Being determined not to be blindsided in this way again
The character taking control of their life instead of letting others be in charge
Becoming an advocate for the people the spouse mistreated…
If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.
Use Conflict To Transform Your Story
Readers have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting books, so make it easy for them to choose yours. Conflict will help you deliver a fresh story premise every time, drawing readers in through meaningful challenges that reveal a character’s innermost needs, fears, weaknesses, and strengths.
The Conflict Thesaurus is part of the largest, fiction-specific Description Database available. Access it here.
New to One Stop for Writers? Swing by and check out our video walkthrough, because it’s time to change the writing game.
Add The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles to your bookshelf
You can find this bestselling thesaurus writing guide in Print, eBook, and PDF.
“Many of the conflicts listed were ones I had never even thought of including in a story…” ~ Annie Lima
“Angela and Becca have done it again—and left no conflict stone unturned…” ~Jarm Boccio
“Ackerman-Puglisi’s thesaurus is so much more than just a “thesaurus”. It’s a tutor, a guide, and a writing mentor all crammed into one…” ~ Sacha Black
This book is amazing; another priceless resource…” ~ Brandi MacCurdy