Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Confiding in the Wrong Person

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.

Conflict: Confiding in the Wrong Person

Category: Failures and mistakes, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, losing an advantage

Examples:
Sharing information with someone who can’t keep it to themselves
Having something private or personal be sold to tabloids
Having information be used against the character in some way
Being honest about a system flaw or security risk and being fired to cover it up
Revealing corruption and being turned into a scapegoat so those who were involved can avoid jail time
Being blackmailed with information one shared in good faith
Sharing sensitive information to a friend who uses it to turn a profit
Confiding about a lapse of judgement (like infidelity) and the person turning around and telling their partner about it
Revealing information to a co-worker who uses it to get ahead
A conversation being recorded and then having what was said be sensationalized or quoted out of context
Confessing to feelings that are then passed on without consent
Confiding in someone who morally will always do the right thing
Showing trust by being transparent and then being taken advantage of

Minor Complications:
Damaged relationships and mistrust
Being unfairly blamed for fallout
Damage to their reputation
Being put in a compromising situation
Being forced to do something they don’t want to do to to fix the situation
Having to call in an expensive favor
Being forced to lie to save face or prevent further fallout
Disillusionment
Losing access to something (or someone) they cherish
Having something private made public and being judged

Potentially Disastrous Results:
A relationship ending
Losing a position of prestige
Losing an advantage that was hard won
Being betrayed by someone close leading to an emotional wound
Being blackmailed
Being excommunicated or shunned
Being prosecuted for wrongdoing
Being forced to break the law, or sacrifice ethics or morals to reverse the fallout
Destroying one’s chances to win something important
Losing out on a once in a lifetime opportunity
Financial hardship (from being sued, dragged through the courts, or blackmail payments)

Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Anger and disillusionment warring with lingering feelings of friendship or love for the one who betrayed
Anger that cherished memories have now been tainted or spoiled by backstabbing
Guilt or self-blame at one’s nativity at odds with rage toward the one who upended the character’s life
Anger and upset at what happened yet relief the secret is out in the open

People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Family, friends, loved ones, people the character is responsible for, people who are associated with the character (if the fallout paints any associated with them in a negative light)

Resulting Emotions: anger, anguish, anxiety, betrayed, bitterness, conflicted, defeat, defensiveness, defiant, devastation, disappointment, disbelief, disillusionment, dread, grief, guilt, humiliation, hurt, longing, panic, paranoia, powerlessness, rage, regret, relief, remorse, resentment, resignation, self-loathing, self-pity, shock, vengeful, vulnerability

Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: cocky, compulsive, confrontational, controlling, dishonest, disloyal, evil, gossipy, hypocritical, macho, martyr, needy, nervous, possessive, suspicious, vindictive, volatile, weak-willed

Positive Outcomes:
Being called out for one’s actions allows for an opportunity to take responsibility
When something private is made public, the character may gain perspective about where their loyalties should lie, who may be a toxic influence in their life, or who is working against their best interests, leading to freedom and independence
If there’s dysfunction at work, the character can seek help once everything is out in the open
Once a situation is acknowledged and made public, there’s the opportunity for closure

If you’re interested in other conflict options, you can find them here.

Need More Descriptive Help?

This conflict thesaurus is still being developed, but if you would like to access our entire descriptive collection (14 unique thesauri and growing), visit our main site, One Stop for Writers.

About ANGELA ACKERMAN

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.
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Jan Sikes
Jan Sikes
8 months ago

Oh, that is a good one. The classic example is a woman who thinks her man is cheating confides in the woman who he is actually cheating with. This happened to me in real life. 🙂

Dawn
8 months ago

Love this one! I have no idea why I didn’t already have this on my own personal list of character conflicts. God knows I’ve confided in the wrong person more than once in my life, and even inadvertently been the committer of this crime.