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: Sharing Incorrect Information
Category: Failures and mistakes, relationship friction, duty and responsibilities, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, ego
Stating as fact information that turns out to be false
Quoting something online that is proven to be fake news
Gathering and passing along information from disreputable sources
Sharing old information that has since been refuted
Passing along written numerical facts that contain a critical typo
The character guessing when asked a question they should know the answer to, and guessing wrong
Stating an opinion as fact
Being laughed at
People bringing up the gaffe later, reawakening the embarrassment
Being corrected publicly
People not taking the character seriously in the future
Potentially Disastrous Results:
The character doubling down and arguing their erroneous point, refusing to see or admit the truth
The misinformation being used in decision making, resulting in far-reaching impacts for many people
Losing an important client
Losing credibility at work, to the point that the character isn’t trusted with important projects anymore
A larger organization (a business, shared blog, nonprofit organization, etc.) experiencing bad PR because of the character’s association with it
Becoming disillusioned; believing that no source is unbiased and no information shared by others can be trusted
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Struggling with self-doubt
Becoming consumed with what other people think
Hesitating to share information in the future, for fear it will also be wrong
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Co-workers, employers, work associates, friends who kindly try to point out the character’s mistake
Resulting Emotions: Agitation, appalled, apprehension, confusion, defensiveness, denial, devastation, disappointment, disillusionment, doubt, embarrassment, flustered, frustration, guilt, humiliation, indignation, insecurity, intimidated, nervousness, panic, regret, reluctance, remorse, uncertainty, unease, vulnerability, worry
Personality Flaws that May Make the Situation Worse: Childish, cocky, confrontational, controlling, cynical, defensive, foolish, hypocritical, ignorant, impulsive, inflexible, insecure, irrational, martyr, melodramatic, oversensitive, perfectionist, stubborn
Learning from the mistake and doing more thorough fact-checking in the future
Choosing not to weigh in on topics the character is unfamiliar with
Recognizing that opinions are not facts and don’t always need to be shared
More carefully checking written memos for typos before sending them
Deciding to be grateful (rather than defensive or stubborn) when a mistake is pointed out
Determining to find factual and reputable sources for future use
Need More Descriptive Help?
While this conflict thesaurus is still being developed, the rest of our descriptive collection (15 unique thesauri and growing) is available at our main site, One Stop for Writers.
If you like, swing by and check out the video walkthrough, and then give our Free Trial a spin.
Before You Go….
Angela has a webinar coming up on Monday (May 4th) that you might be interested in.
Hidden Emotion & Subtext:
Making Dialogue Crackle with What Isn’t Said ($10)
Characters aren’t always forthright; what they say and what they feel can be very different. This can be challenging when it comes to conveying hidden emotions to readers, so Angela will explore ways to show (not tell) what’s happening under the surface when your characters are trying to hide what they feel and think.
If you need help showing character emotion & subtext, this webinar may just be your best friend. And don’t worry, if you sign up but can’t make it live, a recording will be sent to you.