A couple letters ago, I talked about External Conflict – all those forces in the universe that are bumping up against the protagonist. Now we’ll discuss Internal Conflict – the sometimes black hole of doubt within the hero. Like External Conflict, Internal Conflict must get in the way of the hero achieving his goal. Most importantly, Internal Conflict forces the hero to make hard choices.
3 Tips for Writing Internal Conflict
Find your hero’s flaw. Inner conflict often arises from a character flaw. This is common in superhero stories where the hero has a powerful ability he can’t always control. So he’s always conflicted about using this power to achieve his goal, weighing how much it can help versus how much it can hurt.
Use your hero’s fear. Fears make great internal conflicts, and can be anything from a fear of heights to a fear of failure, as long as this fear makes it difficult for the hero to achieve his goal.
Challenge your hero’s morality. Characters with beliefs that counteract their goals are always interesting to read! War stories and crime dramas often feature heroes that are morally at odds with their situation.
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe features a character brimming with internal conflict. First of all, she’s a recovering drug addict, and this daily struggle affects every aspect of the story. Second, her and her dead best friend share a secret that causes her a lot of emotional pain. Third, her attraction to her dead friend’s brother gives her all kinds of conflicting feelings. A character so full of flaws, fears and confused morality makes for a great read!
HOW TO LEAD A LIFE OF CRIME by Kirsten Miller has a fascinating protagonist fighting to maintain his moral standards at a school for psychopaths. Now that’s some powerful inner and outer conflict!
1 Link for more help
Since Inner Conflict is the basis of a great character arc, here’s a post on How To Create A Character Arc using what we talked about in this post: flaws, secrets, fears and morals.
And in case you’re just dropping in now, here’s our April A to Z list thus far: