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: A Partner Being Unwilling to Commit
Category: Power struggles, relationship friction
A significant other who doesn’t want to get married
A partner who doesn’t want to move in together
Refusing to call the relationship “exclusive” even though there is no one else…
Arguments and friction in the relationship
Having two of everything (two homes, two beds, two closets and sets of clothes, etc.)
Awkward questions from family and friends…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
An ultimatum being delivered
A partner leaving the relationship
A partner looking elsewhere for the commitment they desire (engaging in emotional cheating or an affair)…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Loving someone yet hating the part of them that can’t commit
A character feeling like they are defective (low self-esteem) yet knowing the commitment issues lie in their partner’s painful past
Feelings of self-doubt; soul searching as to whether they are making a mistake by staying in the relationship…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: The character and their partner, any children in the mix if commitment issues spill over into the child’s life
Resulting Emotions: bitterness, conflicted, confusion, contempt, defeat, desire, determination, disappointment…
A resistance to commit also means not committing too early, especially if the couple is very possibly a mismatch
Being unable to commit may cause friction that will lead the character to search within for reasons as to why, hopefully leading to personal growth and being able to let go of the past…
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.
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.
“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
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.