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 your story, make a character’s goals more difficult to achieve, and force them to change or make hard choices to overcome what stands in their way.
To see the full entry, visit One Stop for Writers’ Conflict Thesaurus (Free Trial available) or buy the book.
Conflict: Nepotism at work
Category: Power struggles, relationship friction, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, loss of control, ego
Not getting a promotion because it was given to the boss’s nephew
The office suck-up being given an important or lucrative client
Being forced to train or babysit a new hire with no experience or capability who was given the job because of their connection to the boss…
Morale in the workplace slowly declining
Cliques forming in the office
Being sucked into office politics…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
The character rocking the boat and losing their job or being demoted
Talking to the wrong person about the nepotism and being punished for it
The environment becoming so toxic that the character has to quit and find new work…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Struggling with jealousy, resentment, or even rage
Uncertainty over whether the nepotism is real or imagined
Being tempted to suck up to the boss to gain advancement…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Co-workers, employees, clients
Resulting Emotions: Agitation, anger, annoyance, betrayed, bitterness, contempt, defiant, desperation…
Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: Catty, childish, controlling, devious, hypocritical…
Helping the new employee learn the business, and that person becoming the character’s ally
Finding the courage to speak out against wrongdoing
Digging deep and becoming even better at the job…
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.
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The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles
This thesaurus is also in book form, a two-volume set. Each volume contains expert advice on how to use conflict to improve your story, and a plethora of conflict scenarios to provide ideas on how to best challenge your characters.
Each volume is a unique gateway into conflict, but looks at this important element from different angles. Together, they profile 225 conflict scenarios.
Find out more about the GOLD and SILVER editions.
“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
Visit Goodreads to read more reviews about the GOLD and SILVER editions.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Traci Kenworth says
A role that can be beneficial at the right turn.