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: Confiding in the Wrong Person
Category: Failures and mistakes, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, losing an advantage
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…
Damaged relationships and mistrust
Being unfairly blamed for fallout
Damage to their reputation…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
A relationship ending
Losing a position of prestige
Losing an advantage that was hard won…
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…
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…
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…
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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“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