Write It Short Fiction
Write It Home
Chat With Fellow Writers
Publish Your Work
Build Your Portfolio
Short Fiction
Teacher Center
Educator Resources and Community Subscribe to classroom magazines
Creating Conflict

Strong, vibrant characters may drive a good story, but the engine behind any great story is CONFLICT. It’s simply not enough for a writer to describe a character. In order for a story to leap off the page, its characters must face tough challenges. In fiction, conflict comes in many shapes and sizes. In fact, one of the best ways to show what your characters are made of is to place them in difficult situations.

Here are a few tried and true ways to create conflict.

Characters vs. Characters
Conflict exists when a character WANTS something and has to overcome obstacles in order to get it. One of the most effective ways to create conflict is to write characters with mutually opposing goals. In such stories, characters must use everything in their arsenals to get what they want from each other.

  • Make a list of characters with opposing goals.

Characters vs. The World
Conflict also unfolds when a character is forced to struggle against external events or circumstances.

  • Make a list of characters, their goals, and the external obstacles against which they struggle.

Characters vs. Themselves
Sometimes a character can be his/her own worst enemy.

  • Make of list of characters, their goals, and the self-imposed obstacles that get in the way of their goals.
Your Turn
A story unfolds when characters with opposing goals come into conflict.
  1. Decide which type of conflict, or combination of conflicts, stands at the center of your story. 
  2. Complete the Conflict Questionnaire PDF.
  3. Based on your answers, write the first draft of your story.

You’ll be amazed at how characters in conflict will drive the action of your story!

Need More Idea

Ready For The Next Step

View and print items marked (PDF) using Adobe Acrobat Reader© software, version 4.0 or higher. Items marked (PDF Form) feature editable areas. Save edits with version 7.0 or higher. Get Adobe Reader for free.