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NaNoWriMo Day 23 - Characters: Part Four - Conflicts

Saturday 23rd November - Characters - Part Four – Conflicts

On Scrivener – my writing programme of choice – two of the headings on the character sketch pages is for internal and external conflicts. This is so important and will tell your readers all they need to know about the defining behaviours of your characters. You can take this as literally as you like.

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Smiling on the outside, what conflicts are on the inside?

Back when Facebook was still young (and I was much younger!), all those quizzes to find which character in X series you were most like were about the coolest thing you could do, they could have been summed up in two questions. What are your internal conflicts? and What are your external conflicts? If you could match these two questions to a character, you were definitely the most like them, never mind your eye colour or favourite animal.

In writing, outward conflicts are the easiest to convey. Character A dislikes B because of C. These show clear signs to the reader through the POV narrator, by their actions or words. It’s harder with internal conflicts. After all, all of your characters have them but, mostly, we don’t write from all points of view...

So here are a few things to think about in securing your characters’ conflicts:
  1. Only certain people say what they think – while this is the easiest way to disclose to your reader what inner conflicts your character is suffering, there are better, and more believable, ways to demonstrate this. Someone who is chronically shy is not going to announce to a full room that they’re feeling nervous!
  2. Conflicts are the gears of your character – every crucial moment in any story comes from a personal conflict of one of the characters coming to light. Your story grows in pace and involvement every time you use them.
  3. No one likes an infallible hero – you may think you do, but actually true heroics come from conquering conflicts rather than having none in the first place.


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