Conflict in Your Story

How do you use or deal with conflict in your story? Is it difficult for you to write about?

I’m taking an online children’s writing class and my current assignment is to write about conflict in my story. I’m stuck. I don’t know what I want to do. I have to be mean to my character. Oh no!

What is conflict? There are three basic types:

  1. Internal, which is conflict with one’s self.
  2. Relational, which occurs between two or more characters.
  3. External, which occurs between a character and another force.

External conflict is broken down into subtypes. Below are some examples.

  • Character and nature - surviving a snowstorm or tornado.
  • Character and the supernatural - living with a ghost or poltergeist.
  • Character and technology - dealing with a computer or robot.
  • Character and society - being involved in a riot or facing a scandal.
  • Character and destiny - deciding between fate and free will.
  • Character and group - resisting or fighting a government or religion.

Some of these may not apply to children’s books, but I wanted to appeal to a greater variety of writers.

What other examples of conflict can you think of or have you used? How did you resolve the conflict?

Now back to working on my own story.

Debbie A. Byrne has a B.S. in Mass Communication with a minor in History. She is a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and is currently working on her first children’s book.


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Shirley Corder said...

Good thoughts, Debbie. I use a lot of relationship conflict, where the one character has a clear set of values or a definite plan, and the other, who may even also be a "good guy" has a different set of values or a totally different plan, which involves the first character. Result=conflict.

Mary Jo Guglielmo said...

Interesting post. Actually I think all of your examples can apply to children's books also.

Anne Duguid Knol said...

I use internal conflict where my main character so wants to do the "right" think but has real fear of the consequences. Think I probably mesh all three of your basic type list, Debbie, as conflict is an everyday hazard in my settings lol.

Karen Cioffi said...

Debbie, great information on character conflict and nice breakdown of external conflicts.

And, I agree with Mary, depending on the age group, the examples can be used in children's books.

Thanks for sharing.

elysabeth said...

Congratulations, Shirley. picked you as the winner of the earthy day bookworm for this posting. Please email your mailing address ( and I'll get this in the mail straight away. - E :)

Elysabeth Eldering
Author of Finally Home, a YA paranormal mystery

Anonymous said...

Hi Debbie. Great post. Best wishes with your first children's book.

Debbie A Byrne said...

Thank you for the comments!

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