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: Running Out of Critical Supplies
Category: Increased pressure and ticking clocks, failures and mistakes, duty and responsibilities, moral dilemmas and temptation, losing an advantage, miscellaneous challenges
Running out of food in a remote location
Having no access to water
Running out of gas in the middle of nowhere…
Discomfort (hunger, weakness, thirst)
Wounds going unattended
Pain resulting from a lack of treatment…
Potentially Disastrous Results:
Infections or a worsening of a condition
Becoming physically compromised
Disorientation or weakness leading to a serious injury or mistake…
Possible Internal Struggles (Inner Conflict):
Feeling like a failure (if the character is responsible for others)
Guilt for worrying about one’s own needs when everyone is suffering
Trying to think of ways to secure the necessities for loved ones even if it means others go without…
People Who Could Be Negatively Affected: Family and loved ones, people the character feels responsible for, others caught in this situation who are known to the character
Resulting Emotions: anger, anguish, anxiety, betrayed, connectedness, defeat, denial, despair…
Experiencing a shortage will lead to gaining a better appreciation of resources that will change the character in the future
A collective loss or trying situation can lead to community as people come together to navigate the difficult experience
Shortages often lead to creative thinking and innovation in order to circumvent the problem…
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