Toothless Letter OMore often than not called conflict, I had to be a little creative with the words to get all my letters in 😛

Every story has conflict in it, that’s an essential part of stories. It’s what makes character get up out of their lives, and do something that is worth telling a story about.

1 – Man versus Self

The battle we have within ourselves. Doesn’t this sound familiar? For me it’s a constant struggle against that voice which say ‘go on, have that cake, it’s fine’. here is where we get to see and explore the values of a character, and how they are being tested. Is there something that can make them go against something that they strongly believe in? Or do they hold to that belief so strongly that it can’t be changed, and we look at the consequences. Do they have a flaw that they hate and try to change constantly? There will be a lot of internal dialogue, thoughts and thinking with these sorts of conflicts, because they happen within the character’s heads.

2 – Man versus Society

What happens when a belief goes against the norm of a society? Think of minorities that exist, and the prejudice (thoughts and feeling against them) or discrimination (actions based on those thoughts) that happens. Does your character cave to those social pressures? Do they act as though they believe but instead practice in secret? Do they not cave, and take everything that happens to them on the chin? An interesting variation of this is man versus technology. Technology has become so widely pervasive, but there are still people who don’t trust it – see I, Robot for a very good example film.

3 – Man versus Man

The most common of the conflicts, especially in classical fantasy (which dark lord shall we fight today?) where the actions of a character are opposed by or do oppose the actions, reactions and motivations of another character or group of characters. This can lead to interesting confrontations when the two come head to head, or battles of intrigue as they dance around each other, never actually meeting but opposing each other.

4 – Man versus Nature

Count how many films you’ve seen where the world ‘ends’ due to natural disasters. ‘The Day After Tomorrow’, ‘2012’, even ‘WALL.E’ shows what happens to the world when it goes wrong. This is the type of conflict here. Typhoon, volcano, earthquakes, it’s all about human overcoming something that they really have no control over, and giving it that fighting spirit. Maybe that’s why it’s so popular.

5 – Man versus Supernatural

Elements or characters that defy the laws of nature and have abilities beyond that of what we can explain with science (at the moment anyway). Supernatural can include gods (think about all the tales from mythology where gods would directly interfere) or something as big and vague as fate, because we sure can’t prove that exists with science (let alone understand it). This is the big one for the fantasy genre, although often you’ll have elements of the other conflicts in there as well. It is boring when you stick to just one type of conflict, after all. Variety is the spice of life and everything.

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There are quite a few different things that you can throw in front of your characters to make their life a little bit harder. Currently, editing Mechanica Awakening (or at least I am trying to, it is really, really hard at the moment) I have a lot of Man versus Man in there, a dollop of Man versus Supernatural, and a couple of sprinklings of self of society. Nothing about nature though, that’s not what I tend to write about.

What about you, my lovely readers – do you have a favourite type of conflict?

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