How To Create Conflict Between Characters

By on February 5, 2020

If you create conflict between characters in your novel you'll build tension and ensure that your readers remain interested in the story. The bigger the battle, the more tense and dramatic the scene. This will encourage your readers to care about your characters. They'll root for the protagonist to overcome the troubles they face to reach their desired goals.

Conflict is a natural part of life. So including some will help to make your story feel more authentic and believable; it gives your characters flaws. It makes them more human, more relatable, which is so vital if you want your book to be a success.

So how do you create conflict between characters in your story? Here are some different approaches you can take.

Create conflict between characters - our top tips!

Personality clashes

Your characters should all have distinct personalities, and to create interest and contrast, some of the different figures you include will clash against one another, causing arguments, tension and conflicts that can build and then explode onto the page. Just as in life, we meet people who think and act the opposite way to us, in your novel use these experiences to pit characters against one another. Make one super organized, and practical, another goofy and forgetful, one kind and forgiving, the other rude and brash. Of course, you can take a more subtle approach and simply have two characters that, despite their best efforts, don’t quite gel. This could build tension or be used for comedic purposes too.

A conflict of interests

Another simple way to ramp up the drama is to create two characters who have competing needs, desires, or interests. If people want a particular object for different purposes, perhaps, or they want a different outcome from individual events to one another, this can again be used to create scenes of amusement or high drama too.

Internal conflicts

Of course, characters don’t necessarily have to have a particular desire or personality to feel as though they are working against one another suddenly. The conflict could be more subtle, more internal, and emotionally driven than that. Everyone has internal struggles and the different things that each of your characters finds challenging can have a knock-on effect on others.

Communication problems

Barriers to communication are often the reason why conflict occurs (just ask anyone in a long-term relationship). Things can be misheard, misunderstood, or simply processed in a way that they weren’t meant, and doing so can lead to vast amounts of unresolved anger, frustration, confusion, and hilarity. Use miscommunication between characters to build tension or humor in your book.

Remember, for your book to be readable, it is essential to create conflict between your characters. These issues and events that unfold add depth to your story and build up layers that provoke interest and intrigue. So if your novel doesn’t have enough conflict in it already, use the tips above to help inspire you!

So now you know how to create conflict between characters, why not learn about why it is important to create character empathy?

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