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Parts of a Story Conflict


Appreciating an interesting short story or well-written novel involves understanding the development of the story and the elements that keep the reader's interest. Once a story introduces the characters and sets the scene, the author adds both major and minor conflicts. The plot line revolves around the central conflict and the resolution of the problem in the story's eventual climax.

Story Conflict

Despite what the creators of the television show "Seinfeld" maintained, all story lines incorporate some sort of conflict, even if only a minor development. A well-written story has some sort of conflict facing the main character. The plot involves either direct or indirect conflict or a combination of both.

Types of Conflict

Conflicts involve external and internal forces or a combination of both types of conflict. External forces include conditions outside the control of the character, while internal forces involve conditions in the character's mind. External conflicts feature things such as natural phenomenon, including hurricanes, tornadoes or floods; the role of fate in the story; another character opposing the main character or societal pressures, including legal and political struggles. Stories and novels using internal conflicts detail a struggle within the character's mind over a course of action. The character may deal with internal conflicts such as fear, indecision or physical limitations.

Kinds of Conflict

The kinds of conflict pit the main character in the story against a variety of forces. A common conflict involves man against man or woman against woman. This conflict is also known as the physical conflict between two characters. Another conflict involves man versus the circumstances presented in the story This kind of conflict, known as the classical conflict, features life's circumstances as presented in the narrative or the character struggling against simple fate. Man against nature tells the story of the characters fight against weather or geographic features, including rivers or conquering nature, such as climbing a tall mountain. Man versus society pits the single person against a government, popular customs or the legal system. The conflict of man versus himself includes the psychological conflict between doing what is correct and what the character believes to be wrong. Other internal conflicts involve isolation or physical problems that limit the character's actions or choices. The internal struggle might also include fighting with what the character, or the author, interprets as his soul.

Resolving Story Conflict

The resolution step in a short story or novel unravels the conflict in the climax and resolves the issues creating the conflict. In a traditional storytelling format, the conclusion follows the resolution of the conflict. The conclusion wraps up any loose ends and answers any question the reader has about the resolution. The Purdue University OWL Writing Lab notes that not all stories involve a resolution, also known as a denouement, after the unraveling of the conflict. The use of a resolution depends on the writer's personal style and the genre of the short story or novel.

About the Author

*I have written chapters and articles for Oxford and Harvard University Presses, ABC-CLIO, and others. Arcadia Press published two of my local history texts and I have also written for numerous "article sites," including Pagewise in 2002. My "How to become a...real estate agent" is available as an online text from a Canadian publisher. *I taught writing courses at a branch campus of Indiana University. *I held a California real estate license and have remodeled four of my own homes and advised others on financing homes, repairing credit to qualify for loans, and managing construction (including meeting local, state, and federal regulations for restoration and development grants). *I served as an AmeriCorps*VISTA volunteer and wrote nearly $75,000 in small education grants (under $1,000). *My travels include frequent road trips in Canada, Mexico, U.S., and Europe. I attended school at Cambridge University and used this as a base to explore the UK and Europe.

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