Friday, Feb 18, 2011

The Function of a Scene: To Generate Conflict

This week we conclude our discussion on the functions of a scene by exploring conflict. A good scene includes conflict that will lead to the ultimate conflict or story crisis. 

Most of us hate conflict in real life, but shying away from conflict in a scene is disastrous to your story. A good story thrives on conflict. A good scene, which is a building block of story, also thrives on conflict. So include lots of conflict in your scenes. 

Fiction-writing authority, Randy Ingermanson, defines conflict as follows:  “Conflict is the series of obstacles your POV character faces on the way to reaching his Goal. You must have Conflict in your Scene! If your POV character reaches his Goal with no Conflict, then the reader is bored. Your reader wants to struggle! No victory has any value if it comes too easy. So make your POV character struggle and your reader will live out that struggle too.” (“Writing the Perfect Scene” at 

In order to create conflict in your scene, you need to give your character an obstacle in that scene. The obstacle must hinder your character’s journey toward his goal. In so doing, the obstacle creates conflict in your character.  We all know the conflict we feel when a goal of ours is thwarted.  Give your characters these same conflicting emotions (frustration, anger, fear, etc.) when writing your scene. 

There is much more to writing conflict than I’ve said in this short blog entry. For great insight into writing conflict and writing fiction in general, I refer you to Dwight Swain’s classic book, Techniques of the Selling Writer.  It is considered by many to be the bible of fiction writing. If you don’t own a copy, you may wish to add it to your library.  It is available through my affiliate, as indicated, or you may obtain it through your venue of choice. 

Happy Conflict Writing! 🙂 


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