We have all faced conflict in our lives. From an argument with a friend to debating whether or not to take that £10 note you found on the floor you have probably faced conflict in some shape or form. It is conflict that drives us forward and the same is true for your manuscript.
Regardless of the format (novel, television series or film) there are some great examples of internal and external conflict in each and every piece of content you come across. I could list dozens of examples from films, books and television series such as Mick Carter dealing with his own irrational jealously to the news of Whitney’s engagement on Eastenders or even reality shows such as Can’t Pay, We’ll Take It Away where the defendants have to pay up or face the consequence of losing eveything they own.
However, for a real world example of a manuscript in progress you can recall back to yesterday’s post here where you will remember that I used the example of trucker girl and her motive for delivering supplies across the North of England. In this case trucker girl has both internal and external conflict to contend with.
Trucker girl wants to survive. It should be as simple as that; however in her world she has the issue of her missing brother to contend with. This creates internal conflict as she has to weigh up the pros and cons of searching for her brother in the midst of great danger and a possible bounty on her head while trying to survive. This is further complicated by a decision that trucker girl has to make when she reaches a safe haven where she is offered a permanent place to stay. This is a great example of how internal conflict can be depicted in fiction as she now faces the choice to stay or continue on with her dangerous quest.
Internal conflict is great for character growth and the decision your character makes will greatly influence how your audience feels about your character and if they understand their motives. Everything your character does in your own manuscript needs to have sound reasoning behind it or you risk losing your readers’ interest as they question why your character is so willing to go along with extraordinary events.
External conflict arises from conflict between your character and external forces. These external forces could range from a sinister organisation or an individual trying to woo the great love of your life or just plain bad luck encounters that hinders your character’s progress.
Now let us briefly go back to case of trucker girl and the conflict she faces. Applying external conflict to the case of trucker girl we can introduce conflict by introducing a group of menacing bandits who want to steal the supplies she needs to deliver to outposts across the country. The two groups have different goals: trucker girls wants to deliver supplies but the bandits want to steal them for their own reasons. There is a clear conflict and it is up to you as the writer to determine the outcome.
From conflict comes action and this call to action is what will drive your narrative forward and give your manuscript a sense of purpose. So think about your own writing- have you really thought about the conflicts that your characters face? Once you have a strong conflict in place that makes sense in the world your character inhabits you will gain a sense of direction and understand how to drive your plot towards the climax. Happy writing! TTYL.