Six Types of Conflicts in Stories

If you have a beautiful story, it has to have conflict. If you don’t have conflict, it can’t be a good story. – Donald Miller

In every good story there is some sort of conflict. If there was no conflict there would be no real story. It would be possible to write a story without a dream, but it would probably be very boring to read.

Sometimes it is hard to do conflict in stories because one does not want to be mean to ones precious, amazing characters. Unfortunately, if the story is going to be readable there has to be some sort of conflict.

So today I would like to go over the six different forms of conflict.

Person Vs. Self

In some ways this is one of the most relatable types of conflict. It is one that we ourselves have to deal with to some degree. This conflict can be used if the protagonist needs self-confidence, or needs to get over the fear of something, or there are multiple other ways that it would be able to be used. This one is used in many books, and can be used either as a main conflict or as a secondary plot. I like using this one along with the person vs. person or the person vs. supernatural one.

Person Vs. Person

This is a common one in fiction and in real life, but that does not make it less of an important kind of conflict. This is when two people are in direct opposition to each others opinions or beliefs. When it is a person against a group of people it might be person vs. society rather than a person vs. person. This is another one that could be used as a secondary conflict quite easily. This is one of my favorite to use, some of the other ones seem too impersonal.

Person Vs. Nature

This is the conflict of survival against the whims of nature. It may be the ocean or a deserted island, or even a shark. There are a lot of ways that this plot can be used and in many different settings.

Person Vs. Society

The protagonist may not have to fight a single person, but rather a group of people who are all out to get him or her. Or this one can be less personal pitting the protagonist against a form of society that the protagonist does not agree with. This is what happens in many dystopian and fantasy books. This one works much better as the main conflict then a side conflict.

Person Vs. Supernatural

When the protagonist has to deal with ghosts or fairies or aliens, it is likely to fit into this kind of conflict. Though, the other creatures cannot be too like humans, if they are too close it is likely to end up as a person vs. person or a person vs. society conflict. This one can be an interesting one to do and often it is fun to write.

Person Vs. Technology

In this day and age, technology is an important part of our lives. We are becoming ever more dependent upon it. However, one of the earliest person vs. technology conflicts happened in Frankenstein, where Dr. Frankenstein used science to create the monster. This kind of conflict can be used in many ways from the protagonist having to fight rogue technology to having to solve a technical problem aboard a spaceship to having to pilot a disabled plane to safety.

I hope this has helped you to understand the different kinds of conflicts that can be used in a story. It can sometimes be difficult to figure out conflict. I have found this kind of breakdown of the different forms of conflict very interesting

It has set me to wondering what kind of conflict do I have in my story? I think that I have person vs. self, person vs. person, and person vs. society.

What kinds of conflict are in the story that you are writing do you have? What kind of conflict do you enjoy reading about in books?

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