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: Bad Weather
Category: Increased pressure and ticking clocks, losing an advantage, loss of control, miscellaneous challenges
A storm when the character is without shelter
Bad weather on the character’s wedding day
A mudslide that washes out a road…
Frustration, anxiety, and worry
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Suffering an injury far from help
Being lost in a storm
Proximity to danger (a tornado, a forest fire, a eruption, etc.)…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Wanting to flee a danger but also needing to save others
Self-preservation warring with doing the right thing and helping others
Feeling powerless yet desiring control…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: The character themselves and any who are relying on them, people in peril due to the weather
Resulting Emotions: agitation, apprehension, defeat, desperation, determination, disappointment, frustration…
Poor weather can cause an opportunity to better prepare, or make alternative (and better) plans
A delay due to weather can save your character from danger or a disaster (a forest fire prevents a character from entering the battlefield in time, saving his life)
Being trapped with others to wait out bad weather can lead to the characters growing closer or working through differences…
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