The 3 Most Effective Types of Inner Conflict

The 3 Most Effective Types of Inner Conflict


Writers Write creates writing resources and shares writing tips. In this post, we write about the 3 most effective types of inner conflict to include in your books.

Torture Your Character

At Writers Write, we try to get writers to create meaningful inner conflict by introducing a worthy human antagonist. We show writers that the protagonist should not be his or her own antagonist.

This goes without saying. We are all our own worst enemies.

For a book to be brilliant, we should be fighting an antagonist and creating external conflict. We should also be battling our own demons and creating internal conflict.

Great writers, whether they are literary or commercial writers, do this all the time. They layer stories.

The 3 Most Effective Types of Inner Conflict

What are the three types of inner conflict you can put your characters through?

1. Mental

Can I do this? Am I strong enough – mentally and physically? Do I have the right attitude? Am I intelligent enough? Can I hold my nerve?

Often the people who overcome in life are the ones who are mentally resilient. They use their wits and think things through. Your characters are no different.

Example: in Time and Time Again by Ben Elton, Hugh has to travel back in time to change something. He has to constantly use his wits to cope with the unfamiliar world and unforeseen obstacles as he relives and remakes history.

This article has 3 comments

  1. Catherine Conn

    I just love your great articles! They always seem to either confirm what I know or teach me something new!

  2. Coreena McBurnie

    Thanks for this. Always looking for new ways to torture my characters! Sometimes I go a bit soft on them…

  3. Rina Tim

    Thank you for another thoughtful and very helpful article, Amanda! Even the authors who are well familiar with the task of “torturing their characters” can now do this much better! 🙂 I agree with you that that the best works of prose usually offer the reader a complex combination of internal and external conflict (think of Dostoyevskiy, Maugham, Salinger, Nabokov- ah, all of them!) In fact, it is the brilliant skill of creating, developing and resolving complex web of the characters’ internal and external conflicts that can make a work of literature a real piece of art, isn’t it?

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