• Welcome to the Fantasy Writing Forums. Register Now to join us!

My conflict problem. - Can you help me, please?

I still plan my novel. And during this process, I notice something is missing. It’s the conflict! Of course, I looked at nownovel.com and writer’s edit.com. Well, I found an article on nownovel.com. There the author wrote about the genres and their conflicts. For example, my idea would have the “Personal vs. paranormal”-conflict. Because North gods are paranormal. So, I moved one step forward. But I didn’t move to step “Wow! I got a story plan” yet. So, could you help me to find more conflict (or ideas), please? Or better: Find the good conflict for the idea.


When your read the news, what's pisses you off? That's your conflict. Write about what makes you angry. That's where you'll find the passion to make a good story.
goldhawk But when my character has to run away from furious North gods? What is my conflict here? And what’s the inner conflict of the character? How do I find it?

Conflict doesn't necessarily mean fighting bad guys etc. Your guy's running away from I assume an unpleasant death. Isn'tthat conflict enough? Why does he need to have an inner conflict as well? Just go with that. Set your goals for the story as to how he keeps one step ahead of these angry Norse gods, and you can throw in other little snippets along the way. He wants to help a girl but he has to run away from the Norse gods - straight up moral choice type stuff.

Give me more of the plot and I can give you more choices.

Cheers, Greg.
psychotick Well. Of course, you can choose one conflict. But the best novels, which are published in the last years, have at least two conflicts. For example, in the YA book(-series) Hunger Games Katniss must survive the games and start a revolution. In Divergent Tris start a revolution, too. But she falls in love with Four. And in Percy Jackson … well, do I really say more?


goldhawk But when my character has to run away from furious North gods? What is my conflict here? And what’s the inner conflict of the character? How do I find it?

All external conflict is about the protag dealing with injustice. Your protag does not have a conflict because you have not decided what injustice makes you the most angry.

All internal conflict is about the protag having an identity crisis. The protag was living a life where they thought they knew who they were. They are now confronted with situations and emotions which shakes their belief. The internal conflict is about they finding a new self-image.

It's hard to judge what would be the best conflict for your story. After all, it's your story. You need to answer some questions. Why are they running away? Were they falsely accused? Why run away; why not confront the gods? Or why not do a Loki and try to frame someone else? More to the point, what injustice has cause your protag to think running away is the best solution?

As for the internal conflict, what does running away make your protag feel? Did they think themselves brave and are now ashamed of running? Or do they think themselves wise for running but your readers realize it is the worst thing they can do? (And you protag is about to find out why the hard way.)

Writing a good story is not just a mechanical operation. You have to put your emotions and passions into it. After all, if your story does not move you, it's not going to move very many others.


goldhawk Ah! Ok. So, the external conflict decides the internal one? But there must be another one, too?

The external conflict drives the internal one and the internal one motivates the protag to attack the external one. They build up off of each other, increasing the tension as they do.

There is also a point in almost every story where the protag stops reacting to events and becomes proactive. This point has been given various names: Turning Point, Reversal, Crisis. In your story, this may be when the protag stops running and confronts the gods. Or it may not. It's up to you to decide. Again, it's hard to say what's best for your story.


Hey there! You're definitely onto something. It seems like you've decided on your larger conflict-- your character running from furious gods. Now you're looking for a more personal conflict so that your novel can feel layered. These intimate or "smaller-scale" obstacles that your character faces can pertain to having an identity crisis of some sort, as goldhawk mentioned, but in my opinion you could have a lot of fun playing with how the characters in your novel interact with each other and how that creates tension.

Personal conflicts can come from two or more characters having clashing personalities, differences in values... or maybe the characters get along perfectly fine, even love each other, and something is keeping them apart. Think of the problems that people face in everyday life and bring some of that into your novel. Readers might be pulled in by the intrigue of a daring adventure, but they're going to keep reading for the familiarity of a broken promise, or an unrequited love, or feeling like a disappointment to parents. You get what I mean.

Really dig deep with who your characters are, what their flaws are, what they want and don't want in life, and the questions you have about conflict will hopefully get answered. Hope this helps!
Ultimately, you need to decide what your character wants...what motivates them. For example, Frodo wanted to destroy the Ring, while preserving his friends and those he loved.

Now, what obstacles stand to prevent your character from realizing what they want. Frodo faced a whole bunch of things--the ordeal of crossing Middle Earth to get to Mordor, Mordor itself, Sauron's agents, those influenced by the Ring, like Boromir and Gollum, and so on.

The clash of these two things--what your character wants, and the obstacles they face in achieving that--is the foundation of conflict in your story. As your character encounters these obstacles during their narrative journey, conflict will naturally result. That conflict becomes the basis of your story, the stuff you actually write on the page.

So...what does your character want? What motivates them to keep putting one foot ahead of the other and move ahead through their day? This can be something explicit and external (destroy the One Ring), or something implicit and abstract (becoming famous), or things in-between. And what is stopping them from accomplishing these things? Whatever these obstacles are, they should be hard to overcome, but there ultimately needs to a path through them, one your character can follow, albeit with much effort, setbacks, and the real POTENTIAL for failure. In most cases, the character, if they're your protagonist, will eventually win through; if they're your antagonist, they'll probably fail. Now, this isn't ALWAYS true--heroes can fail and fall and villains can triumph--but that's usually in the context of setting up more story/sequels/etc.


This is something I struggled with for ages! I knew what kind of setting I wanted to use, what kinds of characters to populate it with, the overall atmosphere, and what values I want to communicate. And I had the plan to do it all in Sword & Sorcery stories like those of Robert Howard, Michael Moorcock, and Karl Wagner.

It took me a very long time to realize that this kind of template I wanted to use was based on characters and values that are quite different from those I want to use. And you can't simply make a story around a certain type of conflict when neither heroes nor villains are interested in the typical objects of those conflicts and don't have the personal dispositions that make them react to their clashes with violence. "I don't want what you want, and neither of us wants to have a fight" doesn't work as the basis for combat heavy action tales.

I guess the lesson here is to identify the things you already know you want to write about, like types of characters or a setting, and then go looking for existing stories that also have these as central elements of their plot. And then try to learn how these stories are structured and build conflict and try to come up with plot ideas simlar to that.
I realized that I shouldn't be looking at Conan to see what a story contains and what the conflicts are, but rather at Princess Mononoke. They have badass fighters, spooky magical places, and strange huge monsters, but everything else between them is completely different.


I don't know if this will help you, but when I run into similar problem I start asking, why? Why, to everything.
  • The main character is running from the Norse gods. WHY?
  • He/she is running because .... something. WHY?
  • The Norse gods what to get their hands on my main character. WHY?
  • My main character is trying to something... WHY?
I keep doing this until I find some answers, it often helps me find the answers I was looking for.
Sometimes I end up going through so many WHY, before I find an answer, because the answers I found were not good enough, so I had to keep asking WHY.


Your story is made of characters, people that have goals, dreams, passions and loves. What is the thing that they want, and who, instead, doesn't want them to get it? Think about your characters and make them as real as possibile, get to know them just like they were people. So, what do they want now?