7 Types of Conflict to Use in Your Writing!

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If you want to know how to write in the most effective and efficient way possible, it always pays to know every aspect of a story. One important aspect of a story is the conflict. In truth a story cannot be complete without conflict. 

The conflict is the moving force of the story. It is the struggle, the obstacle, the adversary that the main protagonist must overcome. And without it, a story cannot begin or end. 

So before you even think of writing a story, you should know the kinds of conflict that you can use in your writing. 

Here are 7 Types of conflict to use in your writing:

  • Man vs. Man

This type of conflict pits two individuals against each other. The reason for the conflict could be a lot of things. It could be due to conflicting opinions, ideals or a past wrong perpetrated by one of the characters. 

Such great examples of conflicts between people are the legendary conflict between the Greek hero Achilles and the Trojan Prince Hector. Both men were immensely powerful warriors. Both men were brave and skilled in the arts of war. 

But the difference between the two is of a more philosophical sort. Achilles was a slayer of men. He was a conqueror who wanted to make his mark on history as a warrior. Hector on the other hand was a decent man. 

He was a doting father, and his only reason for fighting was to defend his family. It was already a foregone conclusion that both men would meet on the field of battle. But it was even made more urgent when Hector killed Achilles’ cousin Patrocolus.  

This type of conflict packs a lot of dramatic effect because it enables the writer to create great characters.

  • Man vs. Himself

This type of conflict is of a more internal nature. It usually takes place inside the character’s psyche. The conflict usually shows two conflicting desires or selves. 

One great example is Fyodor Dostoevsky‘s classic Crime and Punishment. The story follows Rodion Romanovich Raskolnikov, a former law student who in a fit of rage murders an elderly pawn broker. He flees from the scene of the crime.  

He soon goes on an external and internal journey where his humanity is tested.

  • Man vs. Destiny

This type of conflict pits the character against destiny itself. The usual premise of this conflict, is that the character is destined to fulfill an inevitable action, and it is the character’s motivation, not to fulfill this action. One great example is the legendary Irish hero Cuchullain

He was destined to kill his long lost son Conall, due to a curse from a former lover. Being the champion of the kingdom of Ulster, Cuchullain was expected to fight anyone who challenges the honor of his king. One day a strapping young youth gets into an altercation with the king. 

Cuchullain is forced to fight the youth. And after a long and hard battle, Cuchullain was able to mortally injure the youth. But his victory soon turns to horror when he spots a ring on the young man’s finger. 

It was the very same ring he gave to a former lover. Thus Cuchullain, fulfilled his tragic destiny of killing his own son.

  • Man vs. The elements

This type of conflict pits the character against the elements. This type of conflict presents nature as the antagonist. It makes nature an obstacle to overcome. This type of conflict is best used on survivalist stories where the protagonist has to fight against an uncivilized world.

  • Man vs. the unknown

This type of conflict uses the unknown as an opponent. The unknown could be of an extra-terrestrial, metaphysical or supernatural nature. The novels of Haruki Murakami uses this type of conflict right away. 

Most of Haruki Murakami’s novels have a metaphysical quality about them. One great example, is Murakami’s novel Kafka on the Shore. The antagonist was very mysterious and was of a metaphysical and supernatural nature.

  • Man vs. Society

This type of conflict pits the protagonist or a group of protagonists against corrupt and evil elements in society. This type of conflict was predominantly used in the Victor Hugo’s Le Miserable. This is especially evident when Marius, one of the main characters in the book, took part in the French revolution.

  • Man vs. Technological change

This type of conflict pits the protagonist against technological change. Technology has evolved throughout the centuries. And in the past few decades, there have been great strides in technological advancements. 

These advancements have also created fears that machines will rise up against humanity. These fears can be used as a conflict. For example, you can create a story where humanity is enslaved by an evil mechanical race.

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