Stories that grip the heart often focus on two levels of conflict: internal and external. The external conflict comes from forces outside the character. The internal conflict stems from forces within the character, usually experiences from the character’s past.
The “two conflicts”, as I like to call them, engage in a dramatic dance throughout your story, moving your characters through your plot via tension, climax, and resolution.
Both the internal and the external conflicts work hand in hand, one feeding off the other. Yet, each is a separate story line in and of itself. But when the internal and external conflicts are intertwined in the fictional dream, the mathematical truism applies: the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
When writing your story, create an external conflict for your character that will maximize his internal conflict, and vice versa. Give equal weight to each conflict, realizing, however, that the internal drives the external every time.
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