Concluding this week, I’m doing a series of posts on the conflicts that can be found in a narrative. Depending where you look, and whose advice you ask, there’s anywhere from 4-10 types of conflict that can drive a plot. I’m only going to cover six, though. Those being:
Character vs. Fate
A character with a destiny–it’s a story we’ve heard often. Whether it’s a good destiny or a bad one, of course, depends on the story being told. From the child of royalty set to inherit a kingdom, to someone who has to carry on a legacy, to someone who is cursed, or Neo from The Matrix, this type of character pops up often in literature and storytelling. Sometimes this story is much easier to create conflict in, because there’s already a looming villain or destination that the reader can understand. The character either has to stop their terrible fate from happening, or they have to attain what is rightfully theirs. They’re on a course they can’t easily jump off of.
If it’s a terrible fate, this is a good way to build a character. How they react to their impending doom says a lot about them. Are they fighting it with every fiber of their being, or are they simply letting themselves succumb to it? What sort of terrible things will follow for everyone else if they meet their fate? If it’s something good, this is also a way to build character, and it’s important to show us why it’s good, either to the character specifically or the whole plot of the story. The conflict can also be something standing in the way of this character attaining their good fate.
Not many people in real life are born “destined” for a certain fate, so this is fascinating to imagine. Of course, people born with inheritances or diseases that will take their life eventually know exactly what it’s like, but for most of us, our lives are pretty much up to us. It’s interesting to explore the concept for many of us–in some cases, the idea of having things planned out for you gives a sense of security, even.
Character vs. Fate needs:
- A hard-to-avoid destiny. Whatever is in store for your character, it’s been decided for them before they even had the ability to choose. It’s a hard path to veer off of. There may not actually be a way to avoid it–the story may be in how they handle themselves until that fateful day.
- Consequences for a fate being sealed. Whatever happens, the world will change when this character meets their fate. At least, their world will.
- Reasons the character doesn’t want (or wants) this fate. The character shouldn’t be complacent in what’s happening, whether it’s something negative that looms ahead, or trying to fight toward what they’re owed. The conflict comes in how they face their fate and deal with it.
I do tend to like stories that show a character struggling against fate. I have no particular “destiny” in my own life, unless it was being a writer, and even that isn’t life or death for me. I like stories about people who overcome, or get what they deserve. Do you like these kind of stories? Do you write them?