6 Questions to Ask Yourself

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You have your story idea; you have created your main character already, you’ve developed your world, and you’ve even decided on the theme of your story. All that is left is to start writing.

But guess what? Nobody would care about your story unless you give them a reason to. One way to do that is to make it easy for the reader to connect with the characters of your story. And how do you do that? With internal conflicts.

But what is an internal conflict, and how can you create an irresistible internal conflict for your protagonist? Let’s discuss it!

What is an Internal Conflict?

Everything happening in your story would be meaningless without internal conflict. That’s quite a bold statement, right? But it’s true. Internal conflict is the electricity that powers a story.

Many writers mistake internal conflicts for the things that happen in a story, how dramatic it is and how much it makes a reader pumped. This simply isn’t true.

If you have read any of my previous blogs, you should know by now that all that is just the external conflict. The external conflict of a story is what happens. It is all just the plot of the story. However, internal conflict is the reason why whatever happened in your story matters.

If your story doesn’t have internal conflicts, readers wouldn’t feel like they have gone on a journey with your characters; instead, they will feel like they just watched the characters do a lot of things and get into a lot of trouble only to survive at the end to tell the tale. Not a very memorable tale if you ask me.

A good internal conflict- as I have explained before in my previous posts- is a very simple equation. It is the character’s desire clashing with their fear and creating a misbelief. If you have that, then you have created an internal conflict for your character.

But what makes internal conflict so powerful? Why is it so impactful in a story? It’s because every single person on the face of the earth experiences internal conflict. Everyone has a desire, something they believe would make them happy. And whether they know it or not, they also have fears. That little voice in their head that whispers “what if”.

So how do you unravel your character’s fear, desire and misbelief to create irresistible internal conflict that would hook your readers from the beginning of your story? To do that, all you need is to answer a few simple questions.

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6 Questions You Need To Answer to Create an Irresistible Internal Conflict

Question 1: How is your Protagonist unhappy or dissatisfied with their current situation?

This is the problem that has been boiling beneath the surface for a long time. It is something that makes them uncomfortable but isn’t strong enough to push them into action, making them begin the journey that they think will bring them happiness. This question would uncover your character’s desire.

Question 2: What does your protagonist believe would bring them true happiness?

This question would help you reveal your character’s plan towards happiness. It is the plan they think would bring them true happiness and contentment. They think it would bring them out of their problems; however, that plan would most likely lead them to a much worse situation.

At this moment, they are thinking, “What can I do to change my situation?” It’s only when they fail that they would realize that they should have been asking, “How can I change myself to improve my life?” and not the former question. This is where the “AHA moment” came to play later on.

Question 3: What are the steps they can take towards their goal and turn their greatest desire into a reality?

This is the thing that they have to do, the external conflict they have to face, in order to achieve their goal of happiness.

Question 4: How is their fear stopping them from going after their greatest desire?

This is what completes the equation that makes the internal conflict truly irresistible. They have a desire, but they also have a fear that is keeping them from pursuing that desire. They want something, but they are scared to go after it because of their deep-rooted fear. And they wouldn’t have the courage to go after it until something comes and pushes them out of their comfort zone. This is where the inciting incident comes to play.

This is what helps readers enter into the mind of the character and makes them feel what the character is feeling. This is how to make your internal conflict truly irresistible.

Question 5: What would it take to make your protagonist finally make the decision to pursue their goal?

Everyone likes their comfort zone. Nobody wants to let go of that one thing that makes them feel safe and secure. And it’s the same with your protagonist. They have to be pushed out of their comfort zone, as I mentioned earlier.

They’ve wanted this thing so bad, and now an opportunity has presented itself. This is what should push them out of their comfort zone. Or perhaps it’s not an opportunity that presents itself but the fear of something happening to them or perhaps a loved one. Whether it’s their desire or their fear, whatever pushes them out of their comfort zone should be rooted in their internal conflict.

Question 6: How do they plan to pursue their desire while steering clear of their fear?

Nobody likes pain, but this is what fear brings. Your character is just like everyone else; they hate pain. Hence their brain automatically thinks of a way to achieve their goal while steering clear of their pain.

They don’t know that they are going to have to face their fear in order to achieve happiness. Hence they try to sneak past their fear towards their ultimate goal. It’s not until the AHA moment that they realize they would need to face that fear before they can achieve happiness.

So there you have it. These are the questions you need to answer to create a truly riveting and irresistible internal conflict. If you can clearly show this internal conflict at the beginning of your story, then you can catch your reader’s attention and have them hooked on your story. It’s the internal conflict that grabs attention and keeps readers curious and interested in a story. It doesn’t even matter if your plot is a little cliche; great internal conflict would trump a cliche plot every time.

So answer these questions, create a truly irresistible internal conflict for your characters and hook your readers from the beginning of your story.

Samuel is a creative writer and a freelance ghostwriter. He has written books for a number and clients and published two of his own. He’s a lifelong learner and teaches others what he learns through his writing journey. You can check out more about his service here.

How to Create an Irresistible Internal Conflict for your Protagonist was originally published in The Writing Cooperative on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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Author: Samuel Olaniyan