Conflict 101: Internal Conflict - article

One of the key elements to any story is the conflict inside its characters that force them to grow.

Everyone has flaws and we all are striving for something more, just as the characters we create in our stories. Look around your real life. Someone you know can’t wait his or her turn, another is angry all the time, and someone else is determined to succeed at all cost.

In these individuals there is a reason for those traits. It could be that they were spoiled growing up and feel entitled, or maybe they were verbally abused and they haven’t dealt with those issues yet and so they’re angry at the world. Regardless, those are the elements that make up each individual’s internal conflict.

That means that internal conflict is the predicament facing your character and has an impact on that character’s actions. A strong internal conflict can make for really great storytelling. That’s why writers will regularly choose conflicts that provoke an emotional response from their audience, such as a universal inner need, desire, or belief.

That’s because, like us, our characters have bits of missing parts in their lives, some sort of horrible experience that has scarred them. This event has made them vulnerable, and now they must confront that demon through the story. This confrontation, whether it's successful or not, is what allows us to see the character’s growth.

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