What is Conflict?
I’m sure we have all heard or read that you cannot have a good story without conflict. But what exactly is conflict? In a word….EVERYTHING! That’s right. No conflict no story. However, if you must have the technical version, the dictionary defines conflict as “a struggle or clash between opposing forces.” Most likely your character have a goal, and throughout the story as he/she are trying to reach their goal they will, hopefully, run into some trouble along the way. These would be the opposing forces and they will either be internal, external or a combination of both.
Internal conflict can be described as the struggles your character face within their selves that would stop them from reaching their goals. Maybe your character is a pilot who, after an accident, develops a fear of flying? Or maybe he/she is afraid of commitment and pushes away anyone who tries to get close? Keep in mind however that internal conflict can be more than just fears. Internal conflict can include self-doubt, addictions, desires. The list is endless.
External conflict is the opposing forces, or obstacles that your character faces outside of himself. The weather is a great example of an external conflict. Rain, snow, high winds, tornadoes, earthquakes…all of the above can impact your character’s journey.
Why You Need Conflict
Imagine you have the chance to be in a room full of all your favorite writers, celebrities, athletes, etc. Amazing right? Now imagine they are just sitting around, maybe talking about the weather, but really not much going on. Not so interesting anymore, right? No matter how wonderful your main character is or how villianious your antagonist is, if there is no conflict there is no reason to read. Conflict is what drives the story, keeps the readers interested, and gets them invested in the world you have created for them.
So, why do you need conflict? To keep the story moving and keep the readers interested.