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Plotting Along For The Ride: 9 Basic Conflicts

Today's Card: Five of Pentacles (rev.) ~*~ March 1, the 60th day of 2023 ~*~ Today's Color: Yellow


Welcome back to another delve into crafting a good plot. Last week, we discussed the very basic tips in general. Now, we’re starting at the top, Conflict. Before you can craft a good, powerful, central conflict, we should discuss what the conflicts are. And here’s where it gets fun. There’s debate on how many basic conflicts there are. Some people go with four basic conflicts, some go with six. I, of course, think big. I’m going to tell you about NINE basic conflicts.

Some of these are lumped together in the smaller numbered versions, but I think each conflict has a nuance to it that does mean they should be separate. So, while some state that fate and God belong together, or unknown and supernatural are the same, I disagree. And, I’m going to explain the differences in each conflict and give examples to help you understand those nuances.

These conflicts provide a framework for understanding the various types of conflicts that can drive a story forward. Buckle in, kids. This is a big one.

Man vs. Self

The conflict of man vs. self is an internal struggle within a character. This can be a battle with their own emotions, values, or beliefs. In this type of conflict, the character must overcome their own flaws or limitations in order to achieve their goals.

Man vs. Man

In man vs. man, the conflict arises between two or more characters. This can be a physical battle, a verbal disagreement, or even a battle of wits. The goal of this conflict is often to achieve dominance or control over the other person.

Man vs. Society

This conflict arises when a character goes against the norms or expectations of society. This can be a battle against an unjust law or a societal expectation that the character cannot or will not conform to.

Man vs. Nature

In man vs. nature, the conflict arises between a character and the natural world. This can be a physical battle against the elements, such as a storm or wilderness, or a struggle to survive in an environment that is hostile to human life.

Man vs. Machine

In man vs. machine, the conflict arises between a character and technology. This can be a battle against a computer program or a robot, or even a struggle to keep up with the pace of technological advancement.

Man vs. Fate

In man vs. fate, the conflict arises between a character and the forces of destiny or fate. This can be a struggle against an inevitable outcome or a battle to change the course of events that seem predestined.

Man vs. Supernatural

In man vs. supernatural, the conflict arises between a character and a supernatural force or entity. This can be a battle against ghosts, demons, or other paranormal entities.

Man vs. God

In man vs. god, the conflict arises between a character and a higher power or divine force. This can be a battle against religious beliefs, or a struggle to find meaning and purpose in a world that seems indifferent to human concerns.

Man vs. Unknown

In man vs. unknown, the conflict arises from the unknown or unexplained. This can be a battle against a mystery or a struggle to understand an unknowable or incomprehensible force.

By understanding these nine basic conflicts, writers can create stories that resonate with readers on a deep and emotional level. The conflict can be used to create tension, build character development, and drive the plot forward. A good plot needs a strong conflict to engage the reader and keep them invested in the story.

When developing a plot, consider which of these conflicts will be the driving force of your story. What kind of conflict will best serve your characters and the world you've created? Take the time to really explore the different options and choose the conflict that will make for the most interesting and engaging story.

Once you have chosen your conflict, be sure to develop it fully. This means giving your characters clear motivations and obstacles, and creating a world that is fully realized and consistent with the type of conflict you've chosen. By fully developing your conflict, you'll create a rich and complex story that readers will love.

Understanding the nine basic conflicts is an important tool for any writer. By choosing the right conflict and fully developing it, you can create a plot that is compelling, engaging, and resonates with readers on a deep and emotional level. So take the time to explore these different types of conflicts and choose the one that best serves your story.

And since you've made it this far, you should check out the burgeoning conflicts in Fire in the Mountains. It's a romantic thriller serial I've released on Kindle Vella. Give it a read, give it a thumbs up, and give it a follow so you know when new episodes are released! I look forward to hearing from you!


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