The Craft Of Not-So-Subtle Conflict In Fiction

The Craft Of Not-So-Subtle Conflict In Fiction


Conflict in our stories can be subtle or overt. In this post, we look at the craft of not-so-subtle conflict in fiction.

In my previous post we discussed The Art of Subtle Conflict In Fiction. That would be conflict that isn’t necessarily violent like gunfights and fist fights. I hope you realised how important conflict is and that it can be gentle. Now, in this post, I want to talk about the not-so-subtle conflict. This post is all about the fisticuffs.

The Craft Of Not-So-Subtle Conflict In Fiction

It seems that when you are writing something with a lot of action that the conflict is easier to add, but remember, it is important to have conflict that adds to, or advances the story. We don’t want conflict for conflict’s sake. If that happens, we run the risk of having a series of fight scenes that don’t advance the story. Even Chuck Norris and The Karate Kid need something to fight for.

I always say good writing must have more than one function. Are you adding conflict just to make it difficult for your character, or is your conflict making it harder for them to achieve the goal? Good conflict should always be related to the goal.

Remember all characters have inner conflict and outer conflict. When you focus on the outer conflict you create action and those actions force the character to confront, give in to, or overcome their inner conflict.

Conflict can come in many forms.

Most Common Conflict

  1. Protagonist vs Antagonist
  2. Protagonist vs Nature
  3. Protagonist vs Society
  4. Protagonist vs Self
  5. Protagonist vs Supernatural
  6. Protagonist vs Tech

Keep The Following In Mind When You Add Conflict:

  1. Conflict should be related to the story goal.
  2. Conflict increases the tension.
  3. It should show character.
  4. It should advance the story.
  5. It should force your character to react.
  6. It should, mostly, come from the antagonist.
  7. It can also come from the setting.
  8. It can also come from the other characters.
  9. The outer conflict forces the characters to confront, or overcome their inner conflict.

I watched The Seventh Son. (It was very dark and kinda fun, but you don’t have rush off to go watch it.)

They used a fight scene to do a lot of their heavy lifting. You can watch it here.

This scene uses dialogue, physical action, and other characters to create conflict. It also introduces the setting, introduces the characters, and establishes the scene goal, which in this case, leads to the story goal. It is a hardworking scene.

The Last Word

I hope this leaves you feeling less conflicted about conflict, and will serve a reminder to not simply add conflict for conflict’s sake, but to make sure it advances your plot.

TIP: If you want help writing a book, buy The Novel Writing Exercises Workbook.

Mia Botha by Mia Botha

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