Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Conflict vs Crisis: Preparing for Nano Part 5

How do we keep the reader on the edge of their seats, turning page after page? We use conflict and crises. A book can have both, and most do. You can have a book without crisis, but you CANNOT have a book without conflict.

“Conflict is what makes a story worth reading. Without a struggle, a moral choice, tension, and opposing forces, a story would be nothing but a boring discussion of facts.” How to Write Conflict

The difference is that crisis is usually a circumstantial event or action, such as a car accident, a robbery, a break-up in a relationship. Conflict is the choices or struggles the character has to make, sometimes because of crisis. Conflict happens inside the character.

These are the Basic Types of Conflict in a Story:
  • Inner Conflict: The character is struggling within themselves, with what they want or what they do
  • Relational Conflict: The character is struggling with someone else
  • Social Conflict: The character is struggling with a group
  • Survival Conflict: The character is struggling with fatality
  • Situational Conflict: The character is struggling with a situation -- in this case, the character’s problems involve the interests, problems, ambitions and situations of others and their affect on the character.
  • Man vs Nature
  • Man vs god or religion
More websites on conflict and tension in fiction:
Fiction Factor—a list of essays on conflict.


  1. This was a short and sweet post on conflict. You did a great job of breaking it down! It's too easy to get caught up in all the different sorts of conflict and how they could apply. This post boils conflict down into easy to understand, easy to apply format. Thanks!

    Sooooo excited for NaNo!

  2. I'm bookmarking these for the end of the month!


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