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: Being Assigned an Undesirable Partner
Category: Power struggles, increased pressure and ticking clocks, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, loss of control
Being saddled with the boss’ entitled, clueless kid as an intern
Getting stuck with new recruit (as a police officer or similar job)
Being told by parents to buddy up with the new kid next door…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Starting a feud that brings out the worst on both people
Talking behind the person’s back and being overheard
Being reprimanded for not being a “team player”…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Wanting to succeed but being angry as the partner will benefit too
Wanting to give the benefit of the doubt but growing more suspicious of who is responsible when too many small things go wrong
Being torn between acting professional and giving in to childish behavior as friction escalates…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: The character themselves, the partner, friends and family, co-workers, people who depend on the two and need them to work together well
Resulting Emotions: agitation, annoyance, bitterness, contempt, defeat, defensiveness, determination…
Once differences are put aside, each party may come to appreciate the other’s uniqueness
Dealing with people who are not easy to work with will teach the character strategies for getting along and keeping emotion out of it, which will serve them in the future
Standing up to whoever is responsible for the match (parents, a boss, etc.) and refusing to continue to participate will help the character reclaim their power…
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
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.