Search This Blog

Stirring the Plot: Internal Conflict

#writingfiction, #writingtips, #fiction, #critiquegroup, #genre, #novel, #storybuildingblocks, #screenplay, @Diana_Hurwitz,  #temperament, #storybuildingblocks
In addition to the problems the story world, antagonist, friends, and foes cause for our protagonist, there are internal obstacles that prevent him from achieving his overall story or scene goals.

Internal obstacles are supplied by the protagonist’s own mind. They are difficult to overcome because most characters lack objectivity and insight into their subconscious motivations. Rarely are characters self-aware enough to know their strengths, weaknesses, and triggers. 

Friends and foes and the antagonist can hold up mirrors so the character can see himself better. Most people lack self-awareness. Have other characters point out their faulty thinking.

Other characters reinforce these obstacles or help him overcome them. All characters have emotional triggers and cause explosions by pulling other people’s emotional triggers.

Internal obstacles can take several forms:

[ Internal resistance based on temperament to things that go against his natural inclinations.

This is where you can utilize their core traits (introversion/extraversion, intuition/sensing, feeling/thinking,  perception/judging) for or against them. If they are introverted, make them go public. If they are an on the fly guy, make them have to come up with a plan and stick with it. If they don't, the plan goes to hell and creates further conflict. If they hate being in the limelight, shine it on them. If they struggle with commitment, give them no choice.

[ Fears and phobias that keep him from going where he needs to go or taking the action he needs to take.

You can make this a crippling phobia (though a lot of these have been overused). You can make it more subtle, but equally effective if they overcome an unreasonable fear to solve a problem.

[ Desire for a personal currency that tempts him to do the wrong thing or sidelines his efforts.

We covered the sixteen currencies in earlier posts. It is hard to encourage someone by promising them something they don't want or threatening to take away something they don't care about. 

Tapping Your Character's Currency

Character Currency in Action

[ Character flaws such as low self esteem, arrogance, or pride that keeps him from doing what needs to be done or makes him do things that are better left untried.

In SBB II, I talk about ways to bend and twist your character's personality. You can use those emotional wounds and neuroses to create intense conflict at the scene and overall story levels.

[ Psychological barriers, such as conditioning, belief systems, mental illness, anxiety, depression, and addiction keep a character from seeing the situation clearly or keep him from making healthy decisions about what needs to be done or said.

Your characters don't live in a vacuum. There are societal rules, family rules, or organizational rules that they have internalized. Some characters break rules easier than others.

Make it hard. 

For more about how to craft characters, pick up a copy of Story Building Blocks II: Crafting Believable Conflict, available in paperback and E-book and Story Building Blocks: Build A Cast Workbook, available in paperback and E-book.

No comments:

Post a Comment