Three Kinds of Conflict

A character can be in conflict with three different things:

  • Himself
  • Someone else
  • A group

Internal conflict happens all the time.  I want to accept a job promotion that involves a transfer, but that means moving to Los Angeles, and I hate southern California.

I need to tell you that I want a divorce, but I’m scared to.  Or I’m not yet sure I really want one.

I want to go to my high school reunion, but I’m nervous about seeing my high school sweetheart again.

n-COUPLE-FIGHTING-large570Relationship conflict also happens all the time.  I want to take the promotion, but my wife doesn’t want to leave her family, all of whom live near us on the East Coast.  I am torn between my desire for success and challenge and my love for my wife (internal conflict), but I am also fighting with her about it.  I say living on the West Coast would be better for us as a family; she believes the opposite.

I’m in conflict with my boss, because I think I deserve a raise and he doesn’t.

I’m in conflict with my landlord, who still hasn’t fixed the door to my apartment.

Conflict with groups can run the gamut.  Family, church, state, community, club, business, society, Martians.

I’m a nun, and I’m in conflict with the Catholic Church, because I believe women should be able to be ordained priests.

I’m opposed to a new development project my township has approved.

I’m a whistleblower and I’ve been fired from my job for bringing environmental violations committed by my company to the public’s attention.

praying nunCombine all three kinds of conflict, and you start to create very powerful drama.  As a nun, I have an obligation to obey the Church, so I am torn between my devotion to God and my vows and my deep beliefs about the priesthood.  The priest in charge of my diocese is very vocal about his belief in apostolic succession and against ordaining women, and the fact that I am one of the leaders in this movement creates a lot of personal conflict between us, and not just about this one issue.  And, of course, I am in conflict with the Church as a whole, as a “corporate body”.

So examine the play you’re working on to understand the conflicts within it.  Who is on who’s side?  Where do you agree with others, and where do you disagree?  Who is sitting on the fence whose support you might need?  How do you feel about those who are for you are and those who are ag’in you?

Remember that you might both agree and disagree with someone.  You might think your sister needs to solve a problem, but disagree with how she is going about it.

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