Storytelling Is Boring Without The Use Of Conflict


Remember, your story’s structure keeps your audience engaged.

They’ll want to know what happens next—they really care about what happens next. And, this maximizes the impact of your brand story.

Now we’re going to talk about one of the most important elements of a story’s plot, one that people too often leave out—at great detriment to the story– Conflict.

So, Plot is the structure of your story and conflict is the energy in it that drives your audience through its beginning, middle, and then to its end. There are six different conflicts, known as the 6 Universal Conflicts, and we’ll cover these below.

Where do you look for this conflict?

A powerful Heart to your story has a strong Desire.

The conflict then, is what stands in the way of that Desire.

Choosing to face the conflict starts your Hero on a journey to overcome this obstacle and reach her Desire.

Conflict is so critical in your brand storytelling because it creates a question for your audience. And, curiosity sets in.

  • “Will she make it to the top of the mountain?”
  • “Will he get the girl?”
  • “Will the father be able to keep all three of his daughters in school?”

Remember, Plot is about creating engagement, and conflict helps you achieve this by creating a question your audience wants the answer to.

Now, there are actually 6 Universal Conflicts, and at least one should be present in every story you tell. Understanding the 6 universal conflicts helps you to consider which are present in your story.

Here are the 6 Universal Conflicts:

  • Man vs. Man is a conflict of one person against another, such as Batman vs Superman.
  • Man vs. Self is an internal struggle of some sort, a person with an internal conflict, such as in the movie, Still Alice.
  • Man vs Society is when one person has a conflict with culture, society, or a group of people. Hidden Figures is a great example of a Woman vs Society.
  • Man vs Nature is less common but is as it sounds: a person against a storm or some other act of nature, such as in The Impossible.
  • Man vs Spiritual features a Heart’s struggle with the supernatural or higher power, which you’ll often find in horror films, and is one of the conflicts in Silence.
  • And Man vs Machine is when a character has a conflict with a form of technology or machine, such as in the movie I, Robot or several episodes of the Netflix series, Black Mirror.

Now that you know what you’re looking for, let’s look at how to find the conflict in your story.

How to Find Conflict in Your Story:
1. Review your Heart’s Desire.
To find the conflict in your story, look at your main character, your Heart’s, Desire. Look at what it is that this character is after, what they want to do, achieve, or what they believe.
What does this character want?

2. Identify what’s standing in the way of your Heart’s Desire.
The conflict is what is getting in the way of the character achieving her desire. Review the 6 Universal Conflicts to see if another person, society, nature, technology, supernatural forces, or the character herself is an obstacle to achieving her Desire.
What’s standing in the way of this character’s Desire?

3. Try to find at least three of the six universal conflicts.
While not all six conflicts will be present in every story, it’s good practice to find at least three of the six universal conflicts. Do your due diligence and listen well to identify all the possible conflicts that your story could be based on.

Alan Sarkissian

Director & Founder 

Storyfirst Films

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