Conflict in a Story | Reading Comprehension Review


Conflict in Literature
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Conflict in Literature

Conflict is a central element of plot in any piece of literature, and it is going to be the struggle or problem around which the plot centers. Whenever you’re thinking about conflict, think about problem. What is the problem in the story? What is it that they’re trying to figure out a solution to? What is it that everyone’s worried about?


That’s going to be your main problem, or your conflict. When you’re deciding what the conflict is, there are generally two basic types. You have external conflict, which is just what it sounds like. It is when the main character has a struggle with another force. It’s external. When the main character has a struggle with another force, the conflict is external. An example of another force would be another character or a force of nature.


Having a problem with another character is pretty self-explanatory. They have some problem with another character. They think the character is doing something wrong and want to fix it. They are mad at another character. They are in love with another character. That’s going to be having a conflict or a problem with that other character that needs to be resolved. That would be an external conflict. It could be with a force of nature. Forces of nature are external. They are outside of the main character, which makes it an external conflict.


An example of a force of nature being the main conflict source would be if there was a bad storm coming. That storm is a force of nature and it could be the conflict. If a man is trapped on an island, that would be a conflict, because they’re trapped there, all of nature is keeping them there. They can’t get away. The struggle to survive could be another conflict with nature.


The other basic type of conflict would be an internal conflict. We had external, where the problem was outside, so internal conflict is when the main character has a problem that they’re struggling with internally. When the main character has a struggle within himself or herself. It isn’t anything outside. It isn’t anything other people are affecting. They could influence it with their actions, but the problem is really going to reside within that person.


An example of that would be deciding between right and wrong. Other people can tell you that this is right and this is wrong. One person may say that it’s all right to steal a loaf of bread if you’re hungry and you have no money. Someone else may tell you that it’s wrong to do that, because it’s still stealing. It’s an internal conflict within that character when they have to decide for themselves if something is right or wrong. Whenever you’re looking at conflict, whenever you’re trying to find what that conflict is in a story, look at the main problem is.


To delve deeper and better understand the conflict, ask yourself if it’s an external conflict or an internal conflict. Remember that external is going to be when a character struggling with another force; something outside of himself or herself, another character, or a force of nature. An internal conflict is going to be when the main character has a problem within himself or herself where they have to decide something only based on what’s inside, not any external force. A good example is deciding between right and wrong.


The most important thing to remember is what conflict is. Just keep saying to yourself that a conflict is a problem. Conflict is a problem. That should help you be able to figure out what the conflict is in any story.



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Last updated: 05/02/2018

 

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