Stories thrive on conflict. Without it, there would be no tension, no challenges, and, let’s face it, no story. To craft a captivating narrative, it’s crucial to understand and effectively weave in both internal and external conflicts. Let’s break them down:
1. What is External Conflict?
External conflict stems from external forces that impede your main character’s path. These can range from antagonists and natural disasters to societal norms or even time itself.
Example: In “The Hunger Games”, Katniss faces external conflict in the form of the Games themselves, her fellow tributes, and the oppressive Capitol regime.
2. Dive into Internal Conflict:
Internal conflict is the turmoil within a character’s mind. It’s their personal struggles with emotions, desires, decisions, or beliefs.
Example: In Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”, the titular character grapples with internal conflict over whether to avenge his father’s death.
3. Intertwining the Two:
The best stories often intertwine both conflicts, with external challenges amplifying the inner struggles and vice versa.
Example: In “Spider-Man”, Peter Parker not only battles villains (external conflict) but also wrestles with his sense of responsibility after his uncle’s death (internal conflict).
4. Evolution of Conflicts:
As your story progresses, so should your conflicts. They need to escalate in intensity, pushing your characters to grow and adapt.
5. Resolving Conflicts:
While it’s not necessary to resolve every conflict, it’s important to address them in a way that’s satisfying for your readers. This doesn’t always mean a happy ending; sometimes, it’s about character growth or the realization of certain truths.
6. Using Conflict to Develop Characters:
Conflicts, especially internal ones, are great tools for character development. How characters deal with challenges reveals their nature, strengths, flaws, and values.
7. Side Characters and Conflicts
Main characters aren’t the only ones who face conflicts. Side characters can also have their own challenges, adding depth to your story.
A story without conflict is like a heart without a beat. By understanding and effectively using both internal and external conflicts, you ensure that your narrative pulses with tension, emotion, and growth from the first page to the last.