There are two things a story can’t live without: characters and conflict. A “story”—fiction or non-fiction—without characters is a technical report. A story without conflict isn’t a story at all. Without conflict, characters have nothing at stake, there’s nothing that forces them to do anything at all, much less change or grow.
Now, conflict doesn’t have to mean a character having a gun to his head. Conflict can be internal, too. In fact, that’s the primary form of conflict in much of “literary” fiction. In a 2011 seminar, playwright and author Jeff Helgeson identified five kinds of conflict:
- Person against self,
- Person against person,
- Person against society,
- Person against nature, and
- Person against “fate.”
While four of these are external, each has an internal...Read More