How to Increase Conflict in Your Story or Book

How to increase conflict in your story or book

There is a sort of unwritten device to help authors raise the conflict in their stories and books. It is called “what happens then?”

Some good points to ponder when you are trying to up the conflict:

1. Does the character have a goal? This can be even at the paragraph level. Is there something that the character wants? Making a goal, even if it is unobtainable makes a more interesting story/scene.

2. Does the character achieve the goal? You can keep the desired goal away from the character over and over. It makes great reading to do that. Like scene one, your character wants to go to the store and buy ice cream, but first she has to get the car keys from her mom. This is a goal and the motivation to obtain it. She really wants that ice cream. The conflict is how to get her mom to let her drive the car.

3. If the character accomplishes the goal, (ie. gets the keys) what happens then? Does she make it to the store? Does she hear her mother say to drive really carefully and she has an accident on the way? Maybe she does manage to get to the store okay, well, what happens then? This is a new goal. New motivation and new conflict will arise out of the choices you are making as the author. Remember to make them matter!

4. If the character doesn’t accomplish the goal (getting the keys) what happens then? She really wants that ice cream. She’s not going to stop from her mission. So…she decides to go against her mother’s wishes and sneaks out with her boyfriend who doesn’t have a license but has access to a car. Oh! Think of the great things that could happen now!

These are some easy ways to consider how to lift the conflict in a story. Asking yourself what happens then and making it higher stakes than the last thing can bring dramatic and interesting results. For more great ideas on writing, check out my articles on this site.

About master

Kim Smith is the author of Disk of Death, The Dread Room, Love Inn, and An Unexpected Performance.

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