Fighting With Yourself – Making Internal Conflict

On this week’s podcast, we talked about the types of conflict in your story. You can check it out here.

But I wanted to delve into internal conflict a tiny bit more.

Internal conflict is when your character is waffling about something important in the story. Sometimes that’s hard to figure out.

Here are some hints about creating internal conflict.

Think about the character.

Yep, that’s it. You have to think and know about your main character to understand their internal struggle.

Think about:

  1. What are their morals? Are they all about peace? Justice? Freedom? Creativity?
  2. What are they afraid of happening more than anything else? What’s their biggest fear?
  3. Is that biggest fear related to their core values?
  4. What do they want more than anything in the world? What do they yearn for? Why?
  5. How can their biggest fear and their biggest values mess up them getting their goal in the story?

Boom. Done. Brilliant right?

If you’re still stuck, this author, John Vorhaus, uses the BUT method.

I love my husband, but sometimes he turns into a Big Foot and I’m allergic to fur.

I want to get promoted, but my boss never promotes gerbils and I’m super proud of being a gerbil and don’t want to be a hamster.

My twisted brain

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Killer Trees and Let’s Get Fighting Conflict in Stories Is Good

Dogs Are Smarter Than People: Writing Life, Marriage and Motivation
Killer Trees and Let's Get Fighting Conflict in Stories Is Good
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In our random thoughts, we talk about:

  1. Killer trees in Maine
  2. FBI agents looking for gold
  3. Chainsaws being a hot stolen item.

One of the big things that pretty much every traditional story in Western culture needs is conflict.

CHARACTER + WANT + OBSTACLE = CONFLICT

In your story or your life, you have wants? Sometimes there are obstacles in the way. They keep you from getting your want. Therein lies the conflict. The story becomes interesting because of how you or your character deals with that obstacle.

A lot of writers wait a long time to get that conflict into their stories.

Don’t do this. It is usually boring when you do this.

Nobody wants to be boring. There are two overall types of conflict – internal (inside the character) and external (outside the character), but they can be broken down even more.

AND There are tons of different types of conflicts. Choose One. MAKE THAT Little Jerk your friend.

First off, there are all sorts of lists about the types of conflict in novels. Sometimes you’ll see four. Sometimes you’ll see three. Whatever. Nothing is ever set in stone.

Character vs. character -Podcaster Carrie is trying desperately to not get an explicit rating, but her co-podcaster, Shaun, likes being explicit. How will Carrie make $5 a year off her podcast if it is banned?

Character vs. society – Podcaster Shaun must fight against an overly oppressive society that doesn’t like his explicit nature. How can Shaun survive in a society that crushes his inherent Shaunie-ness?

Character vs. nature – Nature or an aspect of it is about to kick your ass. Think Jaws. Think tidal waves. Think the moon messing up the Earth’s axis. How will there be a podcast if you are fighting off a Sharknado?

Character vs. technology – Your submarine breaks and you have only hours to fix the tech and live. Your mechanical love doll decides to kill you. Your downloads keep buffering. HOW WILL YOU PODCAST?

Character vs. supernatural – The ghosts have invaded the podcast studio and keep whispering, “WHO YOU GONNA CALL” over the audio. HOW WILL YOU PODCAST?

Character vs. self – The Reedsy blog states

Internal strife will stem from a debate that occurs within a character. It might originate from any combination of the character’s expectations, desire, duties, and fears.

Reedsy

Carrie has massive social anxiety, but also a hammy tendency. Every time she has to do a podcast, she panics and paces the house. Will she get it together enough to podcast? Can she get over her reluctance to speak aloud because her s’s are sloshy in order to finally have a voice?

Character vs. fate – Think Greek tragedy or boy wizards and prophecies. You are fated to die at the hands of a monster, in battle, via evil male wizards. You are stuck throwing an evil ring into a volcano. You are stuck becoming a podcaster in a prescribed fate sent from God. How do you deal with this once you know? How do you fight your fate?

WRITING TIP OF THE POD

Put lots of conflict in your story. Put it in early. You can use more than one kind.

DOG TIP FOR LIFE

Don’t create drama in your life when you’re bored or for attention. We all know people who try to create grievance and controversy out of random events. We all know people who go trolling on Facebook or Twitter or try to create drama and get that negative attention in their own post or life.

Spoiler: Negative attention isn’t the best kind of attention. Go for the positive.

RESOURCES

Articles mentioned in random thoughts are all linked here. And here.

Let’s Hang Out!