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Types of Conflict and why is conflict important in Stories

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  • August 25, 2023
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  • 7 min read


Conflict is the ingredient that adds flavor to storytelling, capturing our attention and making us care about the characters and their challenges. Whether it’s a physical altercation, a clash of personalities, or a battle against nature, conflict drives the plot forward. So, what are the different types of conflict found in stories, and why is conflict so essential to storytelling? In this blog post, we’ll explore these questions and uncover conflict’s powerful role in creating compelling stories.

Types of conflicts

Several types of conflicts exist, including interpersonal, intrapersonal, and intergroup. Each type of conflict requires a unique approach to resolve it. Below are the most common types of Self Conflict found in stories.

Man vs. Self Conflict

Man vs. self-conflict is an internal struggle that a character experiences. This type of conflict arises when a character faces a moral dilemma or is dealing with emotional turmoil. It is a battle between what the character wants and what they believe is right.

An example of Man vs. self-conflict can be seen in F. Scott Fitzgerald’s novel, “The Great Gatsby.” The protagonist, Jay Gatsby, struggles to reconcile his past with his present. He is trying to win back the love of his life, Daisy, and in doing so, he is forced to confront the person he has become.

Man vs. Man Conflict

The Man vs. man conflict, exemplified in stories like those found in 10 Must-Read Ecommerce Books for Online Business Owners, is a type of external conflict where characters oppose each other. This type of conflict can be physical, emotional, or intellectual.

An example of Man vs. man conflict can be seen in William Shakespeare’s play, “Romeo and Juliet.” The two families, the Montagues and the Capulets are in a feud that has lasted for generations. Romeo and Juliet, who come from opposing families, fall in love and must navigate the conflict between their families.

Man vs. Nature Conflict

The conflict between Man and nature, as depicted in Discover the Magic of Books Written by Patricia Polacco, is an external conflict when a character opposes the natural world. This can take many forms, such as dealing with extreme weather conditions or surviving in a wilderness setting.

An example of Man vs. nature conflict can be seen in Jack London’s short story, “To Build a Fire.” The protagonist is a man trying to survive in the freezing wilderness of Alaska. He must battle against the harsh conditions and the elements to stay alive.

Man vs. Society Conflict

In Man vs. Society, conflict occurs when a character opposes their world’s social norms or structures. This can include fighting against prejudice or discrimination or standing up for one’s beliefs in the face of opposition.

Margaret Atwood’s novel, “The Handmaid’s Tale,” depicts a conflict between an individual and society, commonly known as a man vs. society conflict. The protagonist, Offred, is a woman who lives in a society where women are subjugated and oppressed. She rebels against this oppressive society and seeks a way to escape.

5 reasons why conflict is important in stories?

Conflict is an essential element of storytelling. Without conflict, a story would be dull and unengaging. Conflict creates tension, drama, and excitement, forcing characters to confront difficult situations and make tough choices. So to understand why conflict is important, our Book Writing Services providers discuss the following reasons.

Conflict creates tension and drama.

One of the primary functions of conflict in storytelling is to create tension and drama. Conflict forces characters to make difficult choices and face the consequences of their actions. This creates a sense of urgency and keeps readers engaged in the story. Whether it’s a physical struggle, an emotional battle, or a clash of ideologies, conflict creates a sense of suspense that keeps readers on the edge of their seats.

Conflict drives the plot forward.

Conflict, a key driver of plot as detailed in Strategies for Promoting a Self-Published Book, is what moves the story forward. Without conflict, there would be no reason for the story to continue. Conflict creates obstacles for the characters to overcome and provides a sense of purpose to their actions. As the characters face these obstacles, they must make choices that affect the story’s direction. These choices lead to new conflicts and resolutions, creating a dynamic and engaging narrative.

Conflict reveals character

Conflict is a powerful tool for revealing character. When characters are faced with conflict, they must make decisions that reveal their strengths, weaknesses, and motivations. The choices they make in response to conflict reveal their true nature and can lead to growth and transformation throughout the story. Conflict can also create complex and dynamic relationships between characters. This provides opportunities for character development and exploration.

Conflict explores themes and ideas.

Conflict can be used to explore larger themes and ideas in a story, whether it’s a clash of ideologies, a struggle against social norms, or a battle against the forces of nature. This can be used to examine the human condition and explore the complexities of the world we live in by using conflict to explore these themes and ideas. This way, writers can create stories that resonate with readers on a deeper level.

Conflict creates emotional resonance.

Conflict is an effective tool for creating emotional resonance in a story. When characters are faced with conflict, they experience a range of emotions. These emotions are what make a story memorable and engaging. By creating conflict that resonates emotionally with readers, writers can create powerful and impactful stories.

Conflict creates a sense of stakes and consequences.

When characters are faced with conflict, there are often stakes and consequences at play. These stakes can be high or low, depending on the nature of the conflict. However, they provide a sense of urgency and importance to the story. As readers invest in the characters and their struggles, they become invested in the outcome of the conflict. Conflict can create a powerful emotional connection between readers and the story by creating a sense of stakes and consequences.

Conflict can be used to subvert expectations.

You can use conflict to subvert expectations in a story. By introducing conflict that goes against the reader’s assumptions, writers can create unexpected twists and turns that keep the story fresh and surprising. This can lead to moments of revelation and discovery that are both satisfying and impactful. By using conflict in unexpected ways, writers can create stories that challenge readers’ expectations and keep them engaged from beginning to end.

Essential Elements and Detailed Insights

Aspects of Conflict in Storytelling Characteristics Impact on Storytelling
Essence of Conflict Adds flavor, captures attention, makes characters and challenges relatable. Makes stories engaging and holds readers’ interest.
Types of Conflicts Interpersonal, intrapersonal, intergroup, with unique approaches to resolution. Adds complexity and diversity to story dynamics.
Man vs. Self Conflict Internal struggle, moral dilemma, emotional turmoil. Explores character depth and internal growth. Example: Jay Gatsby in “The Great Gatsby.”
Man vs. Man Conflict External conflict, opposing characters, physical, emotional, or intellectual clashes. Creates tension and dramatic moments. Example: Feud in “Romeo and Juliet.”
Man vs. Nature Conflict External conflict against the natural world, survival in extreme conditions. Highlights resilience and adaptability. Example: Survival in “To Build a Fire.”
Man vs. Society Conflict Opposing societal norms or structures, fighting prejudice or discrimination. Explores societal issues and individual resilience. Example: “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Importance of Conflict in Stories Creates tension, drives plot, reveals character, explores themes, evokes emotions. Essential for dynamic and impactful storytelling.


Conflict is a vital component of storytelling. It provides the tension and drama that keep us on the edge of our seats, invested in the characters and their struggles. From the internal conflicts of a character struggling with their own beliefs and values to the external conflicts of battling against an enemy or a force of nature, conflict drives the plot forward and creates the emotional resonance that makes a story memorable.

By understanding different types of conflict, as exemplified in Advantages of eBook Writing and Publishing Services, writers can craft powerful narratives. They can use these narratives and connect with readers and leave a lasting impression. So, the next time you’re crafting your own story, remember the importance of conflict and use it to create a truly unforgettable tale.

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