How to Create Conflict when Writing a Novel

When writing is lackluster and you begin to lose interest in a book, it is often the result of there being too little conflict and thus there is not enough driving your curiosity to find out what happens next or how things resolve. To avoid this common beginner's mistake, here is a guide to creating conflict when writing your novel.


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    Use conflict between characters to create tension and resolution. A classic form of this can be found in romantic novels, for example, where two characters clash until they discover something unexpected in one another. In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, for example, Lizzie Bennet discovers that Mr Darcy is a far more likable (and, ultimately, lovable) person than her initial impressions suggest.
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    Pit a character against her environment. A classic example of this type of story is the Little House on the Prairie series, along with the many adventure novels detailing the trials of stranded characters who have to battle for survival.
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    Make the central conflict of your novel a character's internal struggle. This is a particularly effective way to create tension. A character who is self-destructive or has some essential flaw or self-deception can provide a level of depth and complexity that brings a novel to life vividly.
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    Make the central conflict a situation in which an individual is pitted against the collective. This can make riveting reading and allows you to criticize a certain aspect of society. The conflict itself can help you to write your novel, by creating the foundation for a whole community of complex, individually-motivated characters.
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    Write a supernatural story involving conflict of a paranormal nature. Many of the great writers who have dealt with supernatural themes, from Stephen King to H.P. Lovecraft, have understood the creative and imaginative possibilities of pitting characters against otherworldly and mysterious forces. The success of books such as the Twilight series rests (in part) on the fascinating drama and spectacle that the supernatural offers readers.
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    Build conflict between a character and technology to drive the dramatic pulse of your story. Think of the box office success The Matrix - like supernatural fiction, this movie creates a fascinating alternate world where technology has evolved into something ominous. At the same time, sci-fi elements can be used to examine contemporary society.

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Categories: Ideas and Inspiration | Writing