You can’t have stories without conflicts, or more simply put, without problems. Cozy slice-of-life short stories are one thing, but if you’re writing a novel, you need one big problem and then smaller problems along the way. That’s how you make a story. But what are good conflict ideas for stories that you could use for inspiration?
Conflicts need to be tailor-made for your story. It means that they need to fit your genre but also your protagonist. There also needs to be something about your protagonist that makes the conflict especially bad for them specifically, things like flaws and other existing problems. So let’s start stirring some trouble!
How to write conflict for your story
Whenever youre choosing your protagonist + conflict pairing, you have to remember that the conflict needs to be big enough for that specific person that it can’t be solved in a couple of pages or with a single phone call. Unless, of course, there was a reason why that phone call can’t be made. Maybe it’s the medieval times.
Sometimes you might have a global-scale problem, like alien invasion or a giant tsunami, which we can probably all agree are genuine problems. The problem with those types of conflicts is that your readers aren’t going to care about them if you don’t make them personal as well. Maybe your hero wants to save a group of schoolchildren from the tsunami or he needs to find his childhood sweetheart before the world ends.
Whatever kind conflict you’re writing, there should be a point where the conflict has originated and a point where your protagonist gets personally involved with it.
You also need to remember your genre and who you’re writing for. Teenage problems are different from middle-aged problems, and that’s okay. So with that in mind, here are some good conflict ideas for stories that you can use.
Good conflict ideas for stories of any genre
I’m going to get into genre-specific ideas later in the post but I’m going to start with ones that you can use for general fiction or tweak them to fit your genre. Also, I’m going to give the characters names because I don’t want to keep talking about “characters”, “them” or “a person”, but the names are not relevant. Change them! Or not!
- Billie’s mother dies leaving her with nothing but debt. To make things even worse, Billie has never had a job and she doesn’t know anything about the real world.
- Maya needs money to be able to keep her horse, so she decides to take part in a prestigious singing competition. Unfortunately, she’s deadly afraid of performing in front of people.
- When Charles finds a letter from his father that is dated way after the date he died in a car crash, he has to go find answers despite being estranged from his entire family.
- Greta has only just divorced from her husband of 40 years and she’s ready to start a new life in Spain. Much to her dismay, her plans have to change when a grand-daughter she knew nothing about turns up at her door looking for shelter.
- Katie and Myra like to prank each other, but could it be just another prank when Myra calls Katie in the middle of the night asking her to help hide a body? And what if Myra’s police officer father finds out?
- Toby’s father goes missing in the prairie, and Toby has to forget everything he knows about city-living and high society when he goes look for him.
Conflict ideas for fantasy
- When the war approaches his village, Avi has to escape before they find out he is only half human. To make matter’s worse, he has to accept help from someone who’s tormented him for his lack of parents for all his life.
- Marian falls in love with a girl who’s been promised to the king so she decides to duel the king to win her for herself. Will Marian let her drunk father train her for the duel?
- Avery has always trusted magic to solve everything. What will she do when a strange illness takes away her ability to feel magic?
- Arvid is just a farmer’s boy when a strange creature tells him a secret that he must protect with his life. What wouldn’t he do in exchange for healing his dying mother?
- Enja is the only one who sees the strange lights in the forest. She has to choose between staying with her ill-tempered step-mother and risking everything to find out what’s in the woods.
Conflict ides for romance
- When Padme falls in love with her childhood friend, she has to come to terms with the fact that their families will never accept their relationship unless she gives up her career as a dancer and he becomes a vegetarian.
- Mike swore he wouldn’t even look at girls until he graduates from med school. What he didn’t expect was to fall in love with a guy who volunteers at the hospital.
- Pedro and Isabel meet at a costume party and they’re convinced they’re soulmates. But how will they get on in real life when Isabel works at Victoria’s Secret and Pedro is in a death metal band?
- Diana is convinced the new teacher’s aide is the laziest person on earth. Will she change her mind when they’re both assigned to chaperone the school trip to Paris?
- Joy and Thomas were supposed to be nothing but a casual fling during the pandemic. So why does Joy keep thinking about him while planning her wedding with Nathan?
Find out exactly what to write a story about
If you still don’t know what to write about, you don’t have to worry. I’ve got exactly what you need to fix that.
Your Best Idea workbook helps you uncover your best story ideas using things you already know you love to read and write about. You’ll never run out of writing inspiration again and you could start planning your next novel the next day. Why should all those other authors have all the ideas when you’re struggling to find things to write about?
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