The 6 Types of Conflict in Literary Writing

You might be surprised to hear this, but conflict isn’t limited to the fights in my historical fiction romance books. Since the term itself is confusing, let me explain what I mean by conflict in literary writing.

In simple words, conflict in literature symbolizes the struggles between two opposing forces. The forces could be characters, society, or any of the characters’ weaknesses. In literary writing, a conflict describes the characters’ values, struggles, and motivations. Also, let me add that conflicts play an important role in building the necessary tension and driving the story forward.

In this blog, I will discuss the six types of conflict in literary writing.

Open historical fiction books, with various conflicts, forming a stack

1- Conflict Between Character and Inner Self

The conflict between any character and their inner self is termed as the character vs. self conflict. But what does self mean?

In this kind of conflict, the character has to fight with their inner values and morals. Mostly, the character has to struggle to make the right choice. However, the self can also mean mental health issues that are troubling the character.

2- Conflict Between Different Characters

As the name suggests, this is the most common type of conflict in literature. In character vs. character, one character or group of characters fights against another character or group of characters. The conflict could be as simple as a fistfight or something as large and complex as a war.

3- Conflict Between Character and Nature

In literature, a character vs. nature conflict means that the character is coping with the stress of a natural disaster like an earthquake. You can find many examples of character vs. nature conflicts in popular literary pieces, where a person fights the horrors of nature.

A common example of this conflict is the popular classic Moby-Dick, where a group of sailors set out to hunt and kill a beastly whale.

4- Conflict Between Character and Society

You can find various character vs. society examples in real life, but literature is also filled with descriptions of characters that went against society, traditional norms, or the government.

Characters usually feel the need to struggle against a society based on moral grounds, like standing against injustice. A common example of this conflict is the classic tale of racism and defects in the justice system – To Kill a Mockingbird.

5- Conflict Between Character and Technology

Why do people conflict with technology when they can just enjoy it? However, character vs. technology conflict is present in various books. A common example of this conflict is Frankenstein, where Dr. Frankenstein uses technology to bring a dead body to life. However, the dead body ends up in a major conflict with Dr. Frankenstein himself.

6- Conflict Between Character and the Supernatural

This happens when human characters are against supernatural phenomena like ghosts, monsters, vampires, or other magical creatures. Writers who write this kind of conflict create an unfair battlefield certainly.

You might be amazed to hear this, but Macbeth also lies in this category.

a literature book lying on a sheet

How to Incorporate Effective Conflicts in Your Writing?

In my journey as a historical fiction author, I have often shown various kinds of conflict in my books. A good piece of literature should have tensing struggles and powerful competitions, as no story is complete without a conflict!

For more examples of incorporating conflict in writing, you can read my biographical fiction books The Three Husbands of Anabelle, Pocket Book of Short Stories, and Another Chance on my website, Joseph Woodward Stories.

You can also hit me up through my website or email for further queries on literature conflicts or fiction biography books. Have a conflict-y writing experience!

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Welcome to my musings! I’m an author who loves to write novels and short stories that you can read on-the-go. When I’m not holed up writing, you can find me in my garden or at my piano.