Creating Conflict: Man against Society

A second type of conflict in storytelling is man against nature. This type of conflict is pretty self-explanatory. It involves man against some sort of opposition from the world of nature. This opposition could be in the form of a storm, the risks of mountain-climbing, or some catastrophic occurrence in nature. It could also include a character’s struggle against disease or the struggles against a geographic location, such as the wilds of the jungle or the frigid climate of Antarctica. 

Pitting man against nature can create great drama in your story. After all, you are putting your main character against a force that seems greater than he. In many cases, the reader could conceive that you are pitting your character against God since God controls the forces of nature. 

Using obstacles of nature can even enhance the other types of conflict. For example, if you are using the “man-against-man” conflict, you can enhance that conflict by having storm occur as the man-against-man conflict increases. The two conflicts–man-against-man and man-against-nature–can run parallel to each other, thereby maximizing the tension. 

Think about the times in your life when you felt helpless against the forces of nature. In my case, I well remember a major hurricane that occurred in my area when I was about nine years old. As a result of that experience, I wrote a short story for children called, simply, “Hurricane”.

On another occasion, I witnessed a fire in our neighbor’s garage, just behind our house. This too found a place in one of my stories. 

As you think back, you may be surprised at how many times you faced conflict with nature. Draw on those experiences by using them in a story. 

Next time: Man against Society

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3 thoughts on “Creating Conflict: Man against Society

  1. Sorry, I’ve been quiet for a while. Life has a way of taking up a lot of time. 🙂

    Conflict is KEY to good fiction. I’ve heard it said, what we hate in real life, we love in story.

    But I think we need to be careful not to have SO much conflict it frustrates the reader. And there needs to be breaks. The reader needs a breather and so does the writer! 🙂

    June 4, 2010 at 10:16 AM