For the past few weeks, I’ve been doing a series of posts on the conflicts that can be found in a narrative. Today is the final one! Depending where you look, and whose advice you ask, there’s anywhere from 4-10 types of conflict that can drive a plot. I’ve only covered six, though. Those being:
Character vs. Machine/Supernatural/Other
The final conflict we’re going to talk about is one that I often write, and is found in paranormal, sci-fi, dystopian, fantasy, and speculative writing. These are fantastical stories about things that don’t happen in the real world, like zombie invasions, robot uprisings, and doing battle with powerful wizards. People like fantastical fiction because it gets us away from the real world for a while. For as long as humans have been around, we’ve been telling ghost stories. As technology advances, the paranoia that it might turn against us is a common theme in society. This sort of conflict also covers things that PROBABLY won’t happen in the real world in our lifetime–like a worldwide sudden ice age, or finding aliens. This sort of conflict is a lot of “what if?”
When we see characters banding against something that we can’t even imagine happening in real life, it’s also an opportunity to explore humanity in a way we can’t in real life. The way people who are in constant conflict in the real world would band together against an “other,” outside force is interesting to think about. It can also be a way to explore how we’d get creative with our resources if something non-human threatened us. It’s a way to put ourselves in an entirely fake world and still enjoy the sort of human themes and conflicts we’re familiar with. Even if your characters are elves or aliens, they’re fighting against something, fighting for something, and desire a certain outcome. That helps us connect with fantastical fiction.
Genres like horror and sci-fi have always been big sellers, I think because those imaginary things tickle our brains. Even people who grew up fearing the monster under the bed now want to know more about the monster. Sometimes, this non-reality is actually a reflection of ourselves. Unreality can be very human.
Character vs. Machine/Supernatural/Other needs:
- An element without basis in reality. From supernatural creatures to a fantasy world or alien planet, the story is set in some universe where these things are a fact instead of fiction, and may be a major part of the conflict. It could also be our world, after a huge disaster, natural or otherwise.
- A conflict not based in reality. Maybe your characters have to kill vampires or werewolves, or maybe they have to stop an intergalactic force from destroying planet Earth. This sort of conflict is great for stretching your imagination.
- Realistic motivations. No matter what your characters are, where they are, or when they are, we understand why they’re doing the things they do–we understand their struggle, and we even support it.
This is my favorite type of conflict, as I write a lot of paranormal stuff. This is also my last post on the subject! Did you enjoy this series? If you’d like to check out the other posts, click on the links at the top. Thanks for reading!