Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Developing Characters, Part 6: Conflict

I've discussed five aspects of developing characters: motivation, perspective, personality, quirks, and speech.  Today, I'm finishing up my series on developing characters by talking about conflict.  I'm sure there are many other aspects to developing characters, and every writer will go about developing their characters in various ways.  But when I think about how my characters develop, these six subjects are the primary building blocks for my characters.

Every character needs conflict.  It can be outside conflict—something happening around the character that's causing the problem.  It can be inward conflict—there's major turmoil going on within the character.  They often go hand in hand.  Inward conflict can be caused by the outward conflict.  And sometimes outward is caused by the inward—the character is so troubled inwardly that he/she does something that causes huge problems outwardly.  There are times when the characters are conflicted by each other and that opens a whole different can of worms. 

A lot of times, you can give your character conflict by keeping them away from what they want.  This goes back to the characters' motivations, when I talked about how all of them want something.

Maybe you have trouble making your character miserable or uncomfortable because you love him/her so much.  Or on the opposite side of things, maybe you find it easy to rip apart their fictional lives.  I, personally, don't have trouble throwing horrible things at my characters—because as hard and painful as it sometimes is to write these conflicts, I know what waits for them once they've come through it. 

Do you have trouble with conflicts?  What stumbling blocks are in the way of your characters?  What stumbling blocks—external or internal—can you put in their way?


  1. Thanks for stopping by my blog - enjoyed this post and will go back and look at your prior one's on character. Many thanks!

  2. My absolute favourite piece of character development (of my own) was a MISTAKE I MADE during NaNo, where I typed "his rebellion" instead of "this rebellion" and all of a sudden had every single piece of conflict I needed to push Daeyeros and Palamon into part three. ;)

  3. Sometimes I throw my characters into conflict just to learn more about them. I have trouble with pre-defining who they are.

  4. I've never had any trouble doing horrible things to characters... perhaps that's not such a good thing. I'm far more likely to think "Gosh this part is boring. Who can I kill?"


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!