A conflict in a story is an essential element. Without it, you don’t have a story, you just have dialogue. However, how are you supposed to create a conflict that drives your story all the way to the end? A powerful conflict ties to your main character, or else the stakes aren’t high.
Examples of a Strong Conflict
Let us take a look at The Hunger Games. The entire series begins with a single conflict: Katniss wants to keep her little sister, Primrose, safe. If this conflict did not affect the main character, we wouldn’t have a story. There are other minor conflicts throughout the series, such as Katniss trying to stay alive and Katniss not knowing whether to trust Peeta, but the initial conflict remains the driving force. It is why Katniss feels overprotective of Rue, who is Primrose’s age.
Another example is from my novel, Divinity Falling, which is in the publication process. One of my two main characters, Addy, is doing everything she can to get her brother, Reed, out of hell (yes, the literal location). That is what drives the story. Addy’s need to protect her brother, get him back home safely, and ensure no one hurts him again is the heart of the story. Every time something gets in Addy’s way, the tension rises. The reader wonders, how will this conflict get resolved? Will Reed die, will Addy die trying to save him, or will someone die? And that is how you create a strong conflict in a story.
Creating Your Own Conflict
The trick to creating your own conflict is to make it hold emotional weight on your characters. How does it affect them? What’s at stake? If they can live normal lives with this conflict, then you have not done a good job. Don’t be soft on your characters. A strong conflict in a story is meant to shake your characters’ lives and make them suffer a bit. That’s what readers live for. So, make it tough and increase the stakes as the story goes on.
And whether your characters live happily ever after in the end or end up miserable is all up to you. But let the conflict lead us there.
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