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Conflict as a Core of a Dramatic Plot

06 Dec

Conflict as a Core of a Dramatic Plot

Posted By: 
Lucy Adams



Of course, when observing a conflict, the reader fills empathy for one of the sides. And that’s probably the best trick to make the story exciting and successful. Let’s not forget that literature and cinema allow creating conflicts of the highest intensity. Thus, the only limit is the author’s imagination.

First and foremost, the conflict is a struggle between two or more interests within the literary work. Secondly, it’s the source of dramatic situations, the catalyst for the tension of physical and emotional forces. This means that the characters involved in the conflict must show different traits that contribute to the resolving. From time to time, a collision between these two forces creates dramatic situations; that is the moments when a person is facing a difficult choice or tremble in the balance.

The Conflict as It is

Of course, not every literary piece requires a conflict: the prose is so diverse that easily plunges the reader in both reflections and descriptions. However, not every reader will like this kind of prose. The fact is that almost all modern mass literature (as well as cinema and theater) is built around the conflict.

So if the author writes an action book and intends to seize the attention of the audience firmly, he needs to base his endeavors on a thought-out conflict.  

Any good dramatic story always starts with a conflict. It is not necessarily to show it on the first page, but by the end of the first third of the narrative, it must be stated. Otherwise, the reader may simply get bored. How many times have you read books in which something is happening page after page, but it is still unclear why and for what purpose? It’s so because the conflict is not specified, and the reader can’t understand the essence of the events going on.

I believe the conflict should include well-defined powers. That’s the best way to convey to the reader “who is who.” Both sides should have a specific goal, the achieving of each is vital.

Let’s take an example:

  • Two couples with children go on two-day countryside party. In the evening, a poisonous snake bites the girl.  The father of the second family tries to help her, but the snake bites him too. The venom is deadly, but the man has an antidote. Two close-knit families at once become fierce enemies. Here the conflict appears.

In this story, the heart of the conflict is the vial of antidote. It is very important to take something concrete as a core. As for the clash of extremes, the more contrast the opposing characters, the brighter the conflict. Don't forget that the parties should create barriers to each other. In no case, their confrontation should be lethargic! The farther they are willing to go, the more exciting the story.


Antagonist and the Alternative Factor

The antagonist is the person opposed to the protagonist. However, considering that the main goal is to state the conflict of the "good" and "evil," the antagonist may take an abstract form; for example, fighting for life, internal conflict (a conflict between two opposing sides of the personality), etc.

As you can see, several conflicts are quite typical for a literary work. Why not, given that it makes the story multi-faceted and close to the realities of life? Of course, the author should bring each conflict to a resolution.

The alternative factor is a real threat that will overtake the hero in case of defeat in the conflict.

The key word here is real. That is, if the hero does not suffer, why empathize with him? It becomes boring. Thus, the alternative factor should be marked as early as possible.  

There are the next types of alternative factors:

  • The loss of self-esteem.

  • Professional failure.

  • Physical harm.

  • The threat of death or the threat to the well-being of life of the family/nation/mankind.

The degree of intensity goes on increasing. But this does not mean that the most exciting drama built around the threat of annihilation of humanity. Not at all. Here is the skill of the author: the conflict with weaker alternative factors gives rise to more interesting variations. In the example with the snake, the threat of death allows starting an additional internal conflict. However, if assume that the snake bites the kid from the antidote-powered family, there is no conflict.

I hope these theoretical foundations will help you to use conflict as a core of the dramatic plot successfully. I wish your best of luck in your writing endeavors!



Appreciate this article? This guest post is brought to you by Lucy Adams, an educate advocate and open-hearted author from http://edublogawards.org/. Lucy is fond of blogging, writing, education, and many other niches. Reach out to her at lucya@edublogawards.org.