How to Find the Conflict in a Story

One of the best difficulties of writing better stories is knowing precisely which scenes to compose. The very best scenes focus on the core aspects of conflict– which suggests before you can write amazing scenes, you have to discover the conflict in a story.

You might have a great story idea in your head. However the specifics of it– which moments to capture– are unclear. The result is frequently authors block, or a story that feels “off,” implying it isnt concentrated on the best stuff.

Thats where Conflict Mapping can make your writing even much better!

Strong scenes come from strong plans. And envisioning the dispute between your characters is an excellent way to do just that.

When Conflict in a Story Is Unclear

So when we take a seat to write, were actually just translating the image or concept we had into a word-picture.

Except that isnt dispute. When I decided to write a murder secret about a household in New Orleans, I experienced this in 2012. My wife and I even went on vacation there, remaining just outside the French Quarter. And while we saw a lot of stunning things, heard some incredible music, and created numerous intriguing scenarios, strong story conflict did not pertain to us as we sweated our way through the city.

Hardly ever does a storys dispute amazingly appear in our minds. Thats because inspiration often originates from other sources: beauty, music, or situations. Seldom are we inspired by a focused sequence of occasions built around pursuing an objective (which is what a story is), due to the fact that this tends to take place too rapidly to keep in mind.


The appeal, music, and situations that inspire you to write are fantastic– however these alone are not the dispute of your story.

Dispute is vital to a strong story.

How can we translate inspiration and concepts into clear conflict in a story?

Simple: Start by drawing two circles.

Conflict Map: Drawing a Relationship

To begin your Conflict Map, draw two empty circles. Then, connect them with arcing arrows, like this:

Then, consider what the other character might want from the first. Write it on his/her arrow.

Now, decide which 2 individuals are in a relationship in your story. You do not need names. Simply people. Mother and daughter? Partner and sweetheart? Owner and pet?

On the arrow extending from a characters bubble, write what he or she wants from the other character. It can be physical (more suitable) or non-physical (okay– simply include something physical to go with it, like “love = hug”).

As you do this, think about characteristics that might be necessary to each character. Write them in the circles. This is the time to develop without any worry or bookings.

Simply put something therein.

You choose.

And to keep it fear-free, do it in pencil so you can eliminate and alter to your hearts delight!

According to Robert McKee, there are four character types that nearly every protagonist has a relationship with in most stories. Whenever Im building a brand-new story in a brand-new world, I discover this to be a wonderful starting location, and its what I did as I developed the world of my New Orleans play.

Create 4 Relationships

The four character types to fill initially, as you prepare, are:

Friend: What one might want from a pal? What does the exchange of goals appear like in friendship?

Authority: How does this relationship create humane and/or negative energy?

Love: How does the protagonist think about, and possibly strategy to, pursue his/her love interest?

Opponent: Who opposes the protagonist? Is it direct opposition (contradicting the protagonists goal), or competitive (pursing the same or a comparable objective)?

The map was invaluable for planning the relationships and conflict I would require to make the story work. It gave the me the seeds of terrific, remarkable scenes.

When I was made with my Conflict Map, it was so big that my play could not possibly contain all the relationships and characters. So I cut 5 of them!


When you have characters in dispute, you have the makings of a strong story.

Not just does this provide you more characters to deal with, but it plants the seeds of conflict that will blossom into strong scenes. The conflict in between them takes place more naturally when characters are engaged in genuine relationships. It does not feel uncertain, nor does it come out of nowhere.

Go and add goals.

Plan out 2 (or more) characters who want things from one another that can not quickly be given.

You can see my protagonist, Isabels, relationship with 2 of these characters listed below: the Friend (her adopted brother) and her Authority (her mom, Natasha). Note that I had not figured out Andres objective. This really is a way to discover your protagonists “world!”.

Then draw arrows linking the characters to each other once youve established what the lead character wants from each of these characters. What might the Authority want from the Friend? The Friend from the Love? And so on.

And the outcome was a fun, thrilling play that amazed everyone with its genuine conflict!

My lead character, a bride, selected to “relieve” her self-important mother in order to get her objective of “real love and approval. The play would have been much various if she selected to “blame,” “lie,” or “neglect.” Verbs matter, and they can help you as you craft these important scenes.

You can check out a big view of my last map here. Its a mess– four notepads taped together and scanned into the computer system in three batches.

The planning procedure is expected to be untidy, not a perfect, ended up product! And a well-executed plan can result in a terrific end product!

There is something I didnt do, though, that I extremely recommend you do: Add action verbs to each characters goal. Theres a huge distinction in between an Enemy who selects to “obliterate” to get his goal, versus one who “humiliates.”.

Give Character Mapping a shot, and see your story get stronger immediately!

How do you discover the dispute in a story? Let us know in the comments.

PRACTICE.

Take fifteen minutes to prepare a character map for your lead characters 4 “world” characters: Friend, Authority, Love, and Enemy. Make sure arrows go out from each character to the others, recognizing what each wants in each relationship. Then add action verbs that explain how each character will tackle getting what he/she wants.


As soon as youve established what the protagonist wants from each of these characters, then draw arrows linking the characters to each other. Not just does this provide you more characters to work with, but it plants the seeds of dispute that will blossom into strong scenes. When characters are engaged in authentic relationships, the dispute between them happens more naturally. Take fifteen minutes to draft a character map for your lead characters four “world” characters: Friend, Authority, Love, and Enemy.

You are worthy of a great book. Thats why David Safford writes experience stories that you will not have the ability to put down. Read his newest story.
at his website. David is a Language Arts teacher, novelist, blogger, hiker,.
Legend of Zelda fanatic, puzzle-doer, hubby, and daddy of 2 remarkable children.

David Safford.

In the comments, sum up among these relationships by sharing what each character desires from the other, and what he/she plans to do to get it! Be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers!

And while we saw a lot of stunning things, heard some fantastic music, and came up with many interesting scenarios, strong story conflict did not come to us as we sweated our way through the city.

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