I‘ve been voraciously reading through a few books on enhancing both conflict and suspense in our fictional worlds. I was preparing to delve into the topic when I realized I haven’t offered a single post on the core types of conflict. Let’s take a day to carve out a foundation before we start building castles (or blowing them up).
Most of us can agree that conflict is what keeps our readers coming back for more. Some people will say character is primary. Maybe for a few of us a character split the universe and resonated with us immediately. This is rather rare though. I would say the reason most characters have become endeared to us is through the clever application of conflict.
A majority of the characters who we know and love were put through the literary meat grinder. We’re talking about broken hearts and bodies. Our bond is forged through the furnace of conflict and we grow to love (or love to hate) the character. Once that bond is built, we can happily spend hours reading about them crocheting and making peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
Let’s consider some of the more classic ways conflict is applied in fiction. Today I’m going to take a “cheat” day and let the imagery I generated do the talking for me. The only debatable form of conflict you will see below is the argument over whether God (or god) should be in it’s own category or if it’s really more of a supernatural conflict. I’m not here to debate religion; I’m just offering the most widely accepted forms of conflict.
It should be noted all of this imagery was made or re-purposed by me and contains no copyrighted materials. I also marked the images “Public Domain” after I created them. There isn’t a ton of copyright free images on the internet for folks to use on their blogs and webpages with zero risk. Everything I create is absolutely free to share and use (unless I put a disclaimer on it saying otherwise). Also everything I make is linked on my sidebar to my Flickr account where I store them for the blog; feel free to pilfer.
These are the meat and potatoes of conflict. The best stories combine many of these into what Chuck Wendig would call, “…a spicy hell-broth that nourishes” (The Kick-Ass Writer). That’s the kind of frothy stew I like dipping my grilled cheese into!
Are there classic forms of conflict missing from my list? I don’t claim this is the “All Powerful List of Conflict Destiny,” so if you feel I missed one let me know. If it’s a solid recommendation I may even throw together a graphic and add it too the image list. What forms of conflict do you use in your stories? What kinds do you like to read about? I’d be curious to know about your spicy-hell broth of choice. Until tomorrow, keep reading, keep writing, and as always – stay sharp!