Two evils. No waiting.

choices
Either way, things aren’t looking good

Good conflict makes for good story, right?

There’s the overall conflict of the story (hero vs antagonist), but there’s also the conflict that must be present in each scene. That metaphoric moment where the two opposing forces collide on some level.

And sometimes that conflict comes from choices your hero must make.

Given the choice between an easy solution and a difficult one, the easy one is…well, easier. You’ll see this in a lot of new-writer scripts.

But easy’s dull, no fun and makes for a boring story.

Conflict is key. Showing how your hero deals with it shows what kind of person they are. Without it, how can they end up different than when they started? We want to see how they deal with all of the conflicts they encounter over the course of the story.

How about if your hero didn’t have any alternative but to make the difficult choice? They could make the easy choice, but that would take them further away from their goal, whereas making the difficult choice gets them closer to it, albeit in a now-tougher set of circumstances.

You’ve created a bigger conflict, and made things more interesting.

Now let’s take it a step further. What if both choices were difficult? A is bad, but B is worse, and the only viable option is B. Don’t just make things tough for them. Take those circumstances to the edge of impossible.

You’ve just multiplied the level of interesting, not to mention grabbed your reader/viewer’s attention, with them guessing “what happens now?”

The best conflict comes from when a character has no choice but to choose the option that makes their situation worse.

Bonus points if you can organically tie those tough options into the whole story, rather than have them seem like isolated incidents.

4 thoughts on “Two evils. No waiting.

  1. I agree 100% that character arcs make the story. Now I ask How do you determine what character traits are important to include in the character arc? Wonder if you pick the wrong ones or that you don’t emphasize the character changing enough? How can you tell?

    • It depends on how you want your character to change over the course of the story. You know what kind of person they’re like in the beginning, so should therefore also know how they change by the end.

  2. Great piece! I agree that “the best conflict comes from when a character has no choice but to choose the option that makes their situation worse” – what an excellent way of describing it!

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