Bakers Dozen: Creative Writing Workbook (Chapter 4, page 1 of 2)


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Chapter 4

By now, you should already know basically what conflict is. It is a struggle usually between the protagonist and the antagonist. The protagonist wants something, a motivation for acting the way he/she does in the story while the antagonist, whether it be a person, society, force, or something else, stands in the way of the protagonist's getting what he/she wants. There are different kinds of conflict.

A. External conflict-a conflict involving a lot of physical action that may cause physical harm or even death to the characters.

B. Internal conflict- a conflict going on within or inside a character. It might be emotional, mental, or a battle of will.

A lot of action and horror movies that are so popular in the theaters have lots of physical action with people in danger of dying or actually dying all the time. These have external conflicts in which people can and do get maimed, hurt, or killed.

A lot of serious, "literary", movies have internal conflict. There may not be a lot of physical action, but a character struggles nonetheless. Maybe, he/she battles a mental/emotional disease; or tries to deal with some guilt he/she feels for something in the past; or tries to overcome a dangerous drug or alcohol addiction.

Practice: 1. List three movies that have mainly external action.

2. List three moves that have mainly internal action.

3. List three books or stories that have external action.

4. List three books or stories that have internal action.

There are also specific types of conflicts. Although the list varies, below are the ones most commonly cited.

1. Person versus person - one person against another in external or internal conflict.

2. Person versus society - one person against the society in which he lives 3. Person versus nature - one person against the forces of nature such as tornadoes 4. Person versus himself - inner conflict. Person struggling by himself over something mental or emotional. (Like someone suffering from mental illness)

5. Person versus supernatural -against monsters, aliens, ghosts etc.

More practice 1. Write the name of a book or movie that features a person/person conflict 2. Write the name of a book or movie with a person versus society conflict.

3. Write the name of a book or movie with a person versus nature conflict.

4. Write the name of a book or movie with a person versus himself conflict.

5. Write the name of a book or movie with a person versus supernatural conflict.

Note: Some works can and do have more than one of these conflicts.

6. Write the name of a book or movie that has at least two of the above conflicts and in a short paragraph describe what they are.

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