Posted by: victanguera | July 21, 2010

Writing Prompt #221

How do define conflict in a story? The usual types of conflict are man vs. man, man vs. nature and man vs. himself. If you are anything like me, the man vs. man seems like the area where most conflict would exist. But what about all those other great stories? Contemporary women’s fiction isn’t always about (wo)man vs. (wo)man. Some of my favourites are woman vs. nature or herself. They are the most emotionally gripping.

But I’ve discovered they are the hardest to write. Person against person gives an instant area for conflict to arise. One person says something, the other person misinterprets it. Conflict.

Another reason man vs. man stories seem more intense is the idea of a ticking clock. If your protagonist doesn’t stop the villain in x amount of time, the death star will blow up your planet/the Nazi’s will win the war/the shark will eat the swimmers (oh wait, that’s man vs. nature).

So for today’s prompt, think about different types of conflict. Write a scene where your protagonist struggles against something other than another person. If your conflict is man vs. himself, how do you get the sense of urgency?



  1. That assumes the shark exists in nature though: <- the sharuktopus would probably consider itself a man … thing.

    But yeah, most vs. nature are survival (or horror) but it would be interesting to tackle all 3 equally. Man lost in blizzard with friend; they fight over food. Man has multiple personalities, naturally.

    • Oooh, that’s a thing all right. Octopussy meets Jaws. That’s just… that’s just… words fail me.

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