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Conflict in Stories. Conflict. In a story, conflict is the struggle between opposing forces. Plot: Conflict. Conflict is the dramatic struggle between two forces in a story. Without conflict, there is no plot. Protagonist vs. Antagonist.

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Conflict in Stories

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  • In a story, conflict is the struggle between opposing forces.
plot conflict
Plot: Conflict

Conflict is the dramatic struggle between two forces in a story. Without conflict, there is no plot.

protagonist vs antagonist
Protagonist vs. Antagonist
  • The main character struggles against the antagonist.
  • The antagonist can be a person, idea, emotion, decision, nature, rules and laws.
four types of conflict

Character vs Character

Character vs Nature

Character vs Society

Character vs Self

Four Types of Conflict

There are three types of external conflict

man vs man
Man vs. Man

The struggle is between two or more characters in the story.


Man vs. Nature

This type of conflict pits a story's main character or characters against a natural force such as a flood, fire, blizzard, or disease epidemic.


Man Against Society

In many stories, the protagonist battles against element of government or culture.

stop and jot
Stop and Jot

External conflict occurs when one faces someone else or some situation that is working against one's own desires or goals.

  • What do you want?
  • What is working against you?  What stands in the way between you and your  goal?

Internal Conflict takes place inside of the body/mind.

man vs self
Man vs. Self

The struggle or opposition is withinthe character--making a tough decision or overcoming guilt for example. A character struggling to overcome fear, sadness or personal issue is struggling with internal conflict.

stop and jot1
Stop and Jot

Inner conflict occurs when one is confronted with a problem that presents difficult choices.

  • Think about the events in your life and try to recall a time when you experienced an inner conflict.
  • What was the problem?
  • What happened as a result of your decision?

Decide what type of conflict is being illustrated in the following pictures


Now that you have mastered pictures, let’s try some text!

8 man vs
8. Man vs. ?

“If she had only proceeded more slowly.

If she had only taken the Southerly route, avoiding the icebergs. If only the watch had had a pair of binoculars.”

(news story about the Titanic)

9 man vs
9. Man vs. ?

Charles decided to break all the rules the day he decided to steal that car. He was immediately arrested and sent to jail to await his trial. He should have known better than to mess with the “rules.”

10 man vs
10. Man vs. ?

“I don’t care who you talk to!” screamed Sarah to West. “I just wish I had never met you!”

11 man vs
11. Man vs. ?

After the light in the cave was completely gone Tom began to stumble through the cave blindly cutting his hands on what appeared to be sharp rocks.

12 man vs
12. Man vs. ?

Tom found a dry spot to sit down in the dark and began to feel guilty over an argument he had had earlier in the day with his mother in which he had said, “I hope I never see you again!”