8 Types Of Conflict That Will Improve Your Story

Thursday 29 November 2018

We all know that without conflict of any kind - there's no story. But, figuring out what kind of conflict works best for your narrative - that's not always so simple! 

Which is why today, we're covering 8 different types of conflict that can be used in any genre or medium with a quick and easy summary.

So, whether you're a screenwriter, author or playwright, take note of the following examples. 

*All scripts available to read and download in this post have been sourced either from Script Slug, IMSDb or Simply Scripts

(Please note the following terms have been taken from the wonderful resource TV Tropes, and that 'Man' can be interchangeable with 'Woman')


Example: Winston Churchill from The Darkest Hour

The typical story is character A (the hero/protagonist) must overcome obstacles - usually set in motion by character B (the villain/antagonist), as seen in The Darkest Hour - Winston Churchill must decide how best to overcome the threat of Hitler. 

What does it mean? 

Character A must defeat Character B to win.


Click HERE to read the screenplay! 


Example: Bucky Barnes from Captain America & Captain America: Winter Soldier

The problem with your character LIES WITHIN themselves.

After Bucky was captured by HYDRA and turned into The Winter Soldier -  to use as one of their most deadly assassins, he must learn to remember who he really is once he encounters Captain America. 

This isn't so easy when you're reprogrammed and returned to a cryogenic state after every mission. 

It also proves to be an emotional source of conflict for Captain America as he tries to re-establish the identity of his once best friend. 

What does it mean?

Character A must deal with an internal struggle/problem. 

The CONFLICT is that the protagonist is unable to express themselves, LEADING TO CHALLENGES/STRUGGLES  they must overcome within their story.

Click HERE to read the screenplay! 


Example: Pi from Life Of Pi

Your protagonist, Character A must overcome obstacles and problems set by untamed nature. 

What does it mean?

Character A must deal with a problem that comes from a source or origin of Nature. 

The CONFLICT is caused by a natural source - either predatory animal (think Jaws or Lake Placid!), natural disease, disaster, or extreme weather. 

Click HERE to read the screenplay!


Example: Carrie White from Carrie

Character A struggles with problems due to society, and the rules they govern in their social environment. 

What does it mean?

Your character's central source of conflict are the expectations and rules that their society governs. Much like Carrie, they struggle to be heard, seen or valued by others. 

They are constantly put down, usually because of a significant trait they have - in Carrie's instance, her supernatural powers - which usually either leads to their demise or salvation. 

The CONFLICT is caused by the pressure your character feels from society's expectations. 

Click HERE to read the original 1976 Carrie screenplay!


Example: Tom Lincoln and Sarah Jordan from The Island

This is evident in The Island, when Tom and Sarah discover the luxurious island they have dreamt of living on does not exist - and their purpose as clones are in fact destined to be used as organ donors, surrogates etc. 

What does it mean?

Your character must navigate any challenges caused by their expected fate/intervention from a 'higher' power. 

The CONFLICT your character faces is that a prophecy or fate is destined to happen to them. 

Click HERE to read the screenplay!


Example: Dr Alan Grant from Jurassic Park

Poor Dr. Alan Grant! 

He did not sign up for the babysitting job from hell on a remote island with a bunch of prehistoric dinosaurs. But aren't we glad he did! 

The conflict in Jurassic Park may seem obvious - running away from man-eating dinosaurs, sure! However, remember we need to CARE about those people running from T-Rex. 

Alan Grant is the man caught in the middle. He is NOT paternal when it comes to children at the beginning of this story, yet must take on the protector role when the park's security systems fail. 

He is also literally on the run for his own life, and must figure out exactly how to navigate himself around other characters (Lex and Tim Murphy mostly) and dangers on their journey (so many dino-related obstacles!)

What does it mean?

The CONFLICT lies with your central character being CAUGHT in the middle of other characters and conflicts within the story. 

Click HERE to read the screenplay!


Example: Logan/Wolverine and Laura/X23 from Logan

The idea of MAN versus/replacing WOMAN before realising they can't beat the obstacle by themselves - so they join forces to beat it. 

When something is held dear/considered important to Character A (a loved one, an imposing threat, their own life is in danger), and with the option of an 'offer they cannot refuse' from Character B - they decide to team up. 

Much like X23/ Laura and Logan - he has no interest in helping her until he realises she is like him - fused with adamantium and possesses the same mutant powers. So when the threat of Pierce shows up to capture her, Logan knows they are alike and must protect her.

What does it mean?

Character A must team up with Character B to overcome Character C - the opposing villain/force/threat.

The CONFLICT is between the MALE and FEMALE characters, struggling with the decision to overcome any differences because they make a much stronger team together.

Click HERE to read the screenplay!


Example: Colter Stevens from Source Code

Exactly what it says on the tin! 

Your Character A feels threatened by the machinery attempting to take their life, or literally replace their identity. 

This is seen in Source Code, Colter Stevens a former US Army Pilot whose mind has been trapped inside the Source Code - an experimental computer system which forces the subject to live out the final 8 minutes of another human in an alternate timeline. He later discovers that in reality, he is in a comatose state missing most of his body, and is on life support. 

While Colter is being kept alive by the machines, he is desperate to stop being used in the Source Code and begs for his life to be terminated once the mission is complete. 

What does it mean?

The CONFLICT is your protagonist STRUGGLING with the threat of advanced technological machinery.

Click HERE to read the screenplay!


  1. A great guide. Much appreciated. Saw your post on Instagram about this.

  2. Woooow Olivia.God Bless you simply entering Screenwriting injections.