I’m going to discuss first, then pose my question.
Ask one hundred authors how to craft a story, and you’ll get one hundred pieces of advice. Some might be helpful to you, some not so much. But one thing authors, editors, publishers, and readers agree on is this: good stories have conflict.
There are two types of conflict: internal and external.
- External conflict is an outside force acting on the hero.
- Suspense: Being stalked by a serial killer.
- Romance: Domineering father forcing his choice of suitors on his daughter (a man she despises) to improve the family’s socioeconomic status.
- Internal conflict is the turmoil self-imposed on the hero.
- Suspense: She’s a cop and wants to succeed at her job, but she’s afraid and wants to go into hiding.
- Romance: She’s a devoted daughter and wants to make her father happy and proud, but she’s in love with their stable boy.
If you can come up with internal and external conflicts that oppose each other, all the better.
So here are my questions:
- Which type of conflict makes for a more compelling plot?
- Do you have to have both types for a good story?
- If internal and external conflicts aren’t directly opposed to each other, do you need to add another conflict so they tie together?
- Is the type of conflict dependent on the genre of the work?
Basically, I’d love to know your thoughts on conflict in novels. Feel free to use examples from your own works to prove your points. Sound off below.