The Conflict Box

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The key to a great conflict is that neither the protagonist nor the antagonist can resign from the action
. They must keep fighting each other to the bitter end because they need their goals and because they cannot escape each other’s actions. One way to analyze the strength of your story conflict is with a conflict box.

A conflict box is a table with six cells, one cell each for goal, action, and conflict for both the protagonist and the antagonist. Continue reading

External and Internal Conflict

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One of the most common causes of weak or sludgy plots is the confusion of internal conflict with external conflict.

Writers who focus on character love sittin’ and thinkin’ scenes where protagonists look out windows and contemplate their pasts or ponder the meaning of reality, the battle raging within them over conflicting needs and values. That’s internal conflict. Continue reading

Conflict and Trouble

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A lot of stories have slow starts because their writers confuse trouble with conflict.

Trouble is what happens to all of us, usually daily.  Things go wrong, we make mistakes, others screw up and we have to clean it up.  Trouble is part of life.

Conflict is a struggle between two people who both want goals and who are blocking each other.  Conflict is a battle, a war.  Conflict escalates because both sides push back.  Conflict is a specific struggle between two people, the escalating action of which moves the story forward. Continue reading