Stories that have strong conflicts, that make you wonder “oh my goodness, how will they ever get together?” are the ones that linger in a reader’s mind long after closing the book. They have a satisfaction and resonance that makes the reading journey so addictive.
Think about it. If Romeo and Juliet were sweethearts betrothed since childhood, where’s the story’s excitement? It might be a nice read, but readers won’t feel compelled to keep reading. But make them children of enemy families where fraternization equals betrayal of kin, well… a story about two young people falling in love takes a gripping turn.
Shakespeare wraps the conflict around every decision Romeo and Juliet make. And yet, the more they are pushed apart, the more we find ourselves rooting for the star-crossed lovers. OK, so their story doesn’t have a happily ever after (HEA), so it’s not a something I’d be writing, but it is a powerful story.
There are different types of conflict. Some of the most common (with my take on interpreting them):
- Man against man (Hero wants to win ping pong championship. Antagonist has hated hero since he beat him at semi-finals in college. Will do anything to win.)
- Man against nature (Heroine must survive hurricane stranded on island)
- Man against self (Hero must overcome fear of flying to be able to journey with his heroine, a freelance photographer)
- Man against society (Hero must overcome zombie hoards to rescue heroine)
- Man against fate (Heroine, cursed at birth, must break the curse or forever be doomed to kill the one she loves)
- Man against technology (the Terminator….could there be a better example?)
The web has many great examples, and I recommend you check out:
More information on conflict in literature: http://www.literarydevices.com/conflict/
Goal-Motivation-Conflict wizard: http://www.shawntellemadison.com/writer-tools/gmc-wizard/
Beat sheets and story structure: http://jamigold.com/for-writers/worksheets-for-writers/
I hope you can use these hints to help strengthen the conflicts in your stories.