What makes a story good? Is it characters or plot? The answer is neither. It’s the conflict.
Trust me, ever have a story start with a character who would tell you every detail of their life? It was boring, right? Or when the story opened with the plot kicking in instantly with event after event? That just didn’t give you anytime to get accustomed to the characters.
It doesn’t really matter since it requires both to make a good story. Most importantly, it is knowing how to make them work together as a whole. So as to create a compelling problem. A conflict which would keep the reader turning the pages.
Conflict is the glue that keeps both plot and character together. It makes the reader care for the character but not at the detriment of the plot. It is also what ensures that a character would be well developed. The harder you make the obstacles, the more chances you have to show and define the character while ensuring the plot is tight.
Conflict is truly what keeps the reader hooked. And here are some ways to raise it:
#1 Introduce a problem that would make your main character’s life hard
Make your main character’s life hard with this problem. Make it something that they can’t ignore. That they would need to do something about. Without having the chance to avoid solving it or showing that even the easy way out can’t solve their problems.
Ensure that they would need to face it regardless of whether they like it or not. Or have to make a choice between two very very difficult choices and terrible outcomes if they choose wrongly.
This will raise the kind of conflict the main character faces. It can be internal or external, but it should put the main character unsure of what to do next. And it’s also good if they still have to deal with the consequences of their choices, and that no matter what they would have to give something up.
#2 Make it personal
It doesn’t need to always bet the world. What it can do is mess their life so bad or they just can’t leave it alone because it will be against their own principles.
As such, it is something that must affect them very personally. Although for me it’s been more of the latter where their personality and beliefs simply can’t bring them away fromit.
It’s things that they can walk away from but they won’t because they can’t. And it’s their character which prevents them from doing so. Because to them, it is impossible to not turn away. And it’s best if it’s inherently difficult for them to turn away.
#3 Don’t hand the answers to them
This is important as it might be tempting thinking that it would make the story good. It won’t. I can assure you. If it is all at one go, it runs the chance of feeling too convenient and making everything seem too easy.
And ensure that each of them can be used to create more problems, more issues until the climax and the resolution. Make it so that the main character has an insurmountable task, or that there are so many unknowns as opposed to what is known.
And their solution would be coming from putting all the pieces together. Or something that has been within them this whole while.
These are just some of the methods I used to introduce, increase and expand the conflict. But to a story, it is the most crucial aspect. Conflict is the one thing that will make or break your story.