Conflict Concepts

Face it… stories are about fights. Who are you fighting and what are you fighting about?

Conflicts can be about…

  • people, family, villages, camps, societies,
  • rights, human rights, civil rights, constitutional rights,
  • beliefs, values, morals, ethics, standing up for something,
  • honour, duty,
  • money, possessions (possession), stuff,
  • pointless things, dumb stuff,
  • grudges, past transgressions, long ago wrongs,
  • rumours, gossip, innuendo, insinuation, inferences, implications,
  • the truth, lies, half-truths, lying by omission, subterfuge, secrecy, secrets,
  • family honor, family land, ancestry, clan stature,
  • deeds, heirlooms,
  • segregation, apartheid, racism, institutional divisive policy, sexism,
  • threats, danger, national security, personal safety, assassination attempts,
  • directions, plans, ideas
  • (marriage stuff) renovations, money, habits, savings, cheating, an affair, another affair, yet another affair, suspected affair,
  • heirlooms, artifacts, relics, antiquities,
  • prizes, winnings, championships,
  • power, the crown, the throne, control, domination,
  • politics, campaign, election, the Presidency, the House, parliament,
  • protest, anger, riots, public mobs,
  • treasure, sharing the spoils, the booty, the haul,
  • women, men, love, the coveted friend’s spouse, lust,
  • the crush, puppy love, infatuation,
  • friend, just friends, more than friends,
  • unrequited love, rejection,
  • embarrassment, humiliation, public ridicule, asinine behavior, going too far,
  • business, corporation, investments,
  • rules, the law, police, lawmakers, lawyers, the justice system, corrupt judge, circuit judge, summary law, military tribunal, inquisition, lynchings, vigilantism,
  • where to go on vacation, which movie to pick, what restaurant to go to,
  • religion, beliefs, doctrine, dogma, tradition,
  • arrogance, pride, righteousness, superiority,
  • challenges, dares, duels,
  • greed, avarice, covetousness, need, want, lust,
  • laziness, sloth, aloofness, carelessness,
  • belligerence, opposition, defiance,

Types of conflicts…

  • outright fight, overt, scrap, skirmish, tussle,
  • scheme, plot, plan, secret,
  • argument, bickering, quarrel, row,
  • whining, complaining, snivelling,
  • rumours, gossip, lies, deceipt,
  • poison, assassination, hired gun,
  • trap, snare, trick,
  • insults, put downs, sarcasm,
  • duel, challenge, dare, show, tournament, joust, head-to-head, mano a mano, contest, prize fight, bout, title bout,
  • battle to the death, deathmatch,
  • burning hatred, lingering wrath, deep¬†loathing,
  • backstabbing,
  • scorn, ostracize, outcast, disenfranchise, estrange,
  • smackdown, throwdown, put-’em-up,
  • high noon gunfight,
  • struggle, tussle, dust ’em up, scuffle, ruckus, fracas,
  • brawl, rumble, a “how-dee-do”, free-for-all, bar fight,
  • melee, skirmish, clash,
  • grudge, longstanding fued, generational hatred, drawn out affair,
  • religious fight, sectarian split, holy war, crusade,
  • lottery, contest,

Classic Literary Conflicts

Here are the classic literary conflicts. Each will be detailed, analyzed, dissected, and examined in further posts so you can get a bazillion ideas from each of them.

  • Character vs. Character (battle another being)
  • Character vs. Self (battle within oneself; often facing moral, philosophical, or ethical questions)
  • Character vs. Nature (battle for survival against the elements)
  • Character vs. Society (battle against the rules, constructs, and constraints of the “civilized” world)
  • Character vs. Supernatural (battle the divine, the gods, the universe, and other stuff that’s really way stronger than you are)

Other Conflicts

In the spirit of creativity, we’ve broken down the walls of “literature” and present some other ways of looking at conflict to maybe trigger some new ideas. Check these out, and please, add to the comments with any more that come to mind!

  • character vs. zipper (you know when you just can’t get the friggin’ zipper to work)
  • character vs. “your mom” (one of my favourite answers ever from a grade nine student when asked to name the literary conflicts; it is all too true!)
  • character vs. gravity (if you’ve ever followed someone who’s a really good skier, y’all know what I mean)
  • character vs. bedbugs (or lice, or mice when you don’t know how they’re getting in the house)
  • character vs. embarrassing situation
  • character vs. character vs. character (oh, yeah!)
  • character vs. a bad referee
  • character vs. slow drivers
  • character vs. an unreasonable drunk

Some Fleshed-out Conflict Concepts

  • Despite your love of gambling, you have had to quit as it was getting you (and your family) into too much trouble. Now, you are presented with the biggest gamble of your life, with something very dear on the line. Will you or won’t you do it, and how will it all turn out?
  • A task has been assigned to you, the world’s greatest assassin, but you just can’t follow through this time (love, debt, honour?). How can you get out of this without being banished from your order?
  • After losing a loved one, you vowed revenge, but time has passed and it smoulders so deep inside that you only find it if you go looking. You are presented with the opportunity now to play out your vengeance, but time makes you wonder if it is worth the price you’ll have to pay to dig up the old hatred again.
  • Presented with the ultimate cheat to win situation, you must decide: is the prize worth the personal price you’ll have to pay?
  • You made a deal with the devil; now you want to back out. Good luck with that.
  • A political race begins and… (pick one)¬†one of the candidates is corrupt, people are being hoodwinked, neither candidate is worthy, you have to run, the election is rigged, the son of a son of a son of a former king claims the throne, your character decides to run,