With the recent release of the 2nd Volume of The Conflict Thesaurus, Angela and I have been here, there, and everywhere, sharing everything we’ve learned about what conflict can do for your stories and characters. Because we don’t want you to miss a thing, we’ve collected them here, into one bursting-at-the-seams post full of conflict advice.
Posts, Podcasts, and PDFs
Acquaint yourself with the varying levels of conflict and how to layer them into a story to make it rich, powerful, and memorable.
Creating a villain? Complicate their relationship with the protagonist by giving them some key similarities. But remember that adversaries shouldn’t be limited to megalomaniacs and evil nemeses. Check out this directory of trouble-makers who could potentially cause trouble for your character.
One of the purposes of conflict is to build tension—for the character AND your readers. Use these methods to optimize your conflict for maximum tension. Using conflict to raise questions for readers is another proven technique. And when it comes to romantic conflict, keep the tension up by not resolving it too quickly.
Make sure your protagonist has agency by creating conflict opportunities that produce choices and consequences.
Find out why your character needs to fail if they’re eventually going to win—and how to use conflict to bring those failures about.
Internal conflict is huge for any character working a change (or failed) arc. Read more about how this kind of conflict fits into character arc, five ways to add it to your story, and tips for showing this internal element to readers.
Want to keep your conflict scenarios vibrant and engaging? Vary them, ensuring that they touch on multiple areas of your character’s life. And don’t forget the dialogue. Sometimes it’s a character’s everyday conversations with others that can set the conflict ball rolling.
We know that we can’t make things easy for our characters. One way to do that is by giving them truly difficult choices to make. This post covers 9 different decisions your character can encounter over the course of a story.
Learn how to escalate your fiction by making the stakes meaningful.
Need conflict? Look no further than the setting. Make it a challenge by messing with the weather, taking away something vital, adding an audience, or triggering sensitive emotions.
If podcasts are your jam, have a listen to this conversation between Becca and The Rebel Author Podcast’s Sacha Black on how to craft conflict in your novel.
We’ve uploaded some of the appendix tools from the book to our Tools page so you can have easy access to them. There, you can find a Character Conflict Response Flowchart that shows how to plot a character’s route to success of failure, along with an Internal Conflict Brainstorming Resource to aid in figuring out their main source of inner conflict.
One Stop for Writers Tools
You know we’ve got you covered with tools and resources at One Stop for Writers specifically created to help with conflict development.
The Conflict Thesaurus includes all the entries from Volume 1 AND Volume 2 (coming in September)—as well as a few extras!
Our Formal Scene Maps tool helps helps you lay out the necessary elements—including inner and outer conflict options—to make each scene strong and compelling
Looking for more conflict brainstorming options? the Idea Generator has a drawer full of Plot Complications that just might fit the bill.
We’ve also got a few handy worksheets around this topic. Emotional Progressions helps you plan out the conflict scenarios in a scene so you can map a character’s emotional ups and downs, while the Emotional Value of a Setting worksheet guides you through an exploration of possible settings to determine which ones hold the most potential for your scene.
And if you’re into bite-sized learning, we’ve got a handful of conflict-based tip sheets that might interest you. This includes sheets on Adding Conflict, Using Pacing and Pressure Points, Raising the Stakes, and Central Story Conflicts.
Other Mother Lode Posts
If you found this collection of resources helpful, you might be interested in some of our other compilation posts.
Writing about Character Occupations
Showing (Not Telling) Character Emotions
Creating Phenomenal First Pages
Writing about Emotional Wounds
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.