A story, any story, needs tension. Without it, a story will stagnate and die, become like a wilting exotic flower in need of some water to survive. It will fail to move forward, to progress. Creating tension drives the story along, enabling your characters to reach their goals and desires, leaving your readers pleased to have read it.

I’m just at 30,000 words into my book, a contemporary crime mystery (not quite a ‘thriller’ yet, but I’m getting there), set in southern England. I have a strong female character and an equally weak male character, plus a sprinkling of characters on the sidelines that have yet to be fully developed.

Thriller – classed as a broad genre of literature, a story-line that has many twists and turns, keeping the reader on the ‘edge of their seats.’ A thriller usually has several sub-genres; suspense, action, anxiety, resolution, that allows the reader to feel thrilled and satisfied until the very end of the story.


In order for my story to progress, it needs a level of tension, or CONFLICT. Otherwise, the reader will think – what’s the point of that? when they read your story – and may even throw all your hard work in the trash. Heavens forbid!

So, I have a few tips for creating conflict in a story:

  1. Give your characters a purpose. They have to have some goals/desires that will drive the story forward. Maybe its a quarrel with a neighbour? A land dispute? A love conflict? Make this your story – arguments create plot lines!
  2. The conflict of Man against Man. In a time old way, creating tension between strong male characters is a well used formula that works. The classic Love Triangle scenario has been used time and time again, and still makes for an interesting story, working equally well in different genres such a Romance, Crime, and YA fiction, which has become so popular today.
  3. Remember ! Too much conflict can be exhausting for the reader. Feed them a little conflict at the start between two or more characters, so that they know where the story is going – then drip feed conflict, mix it up with some humour or romance – and you can’t fail!
  4. Keep the characters ‘on edge’ in your story – but not all the time! By the same token, don’t make their lives too safe, too complacent – otherwise, where’s your story?
  5. Give your characters opinions. In real life, people have disagreements all the time- family and friends simply can’t fall into each others wishes- its human nature to agree/disagree! This is the same for storytelling and makes your characters human.
  6. Have a bad character that does bad things in the story but a good character that does good! This creates conflict – but remember to give the baddie some good traits (ie loves and cares for his mother) and the good character bad traits (ie hates animals)  – and you can’t go wrong.
character vs character
Character V Character

Lastly, and bear this in mind – enjoy writing your story!

 Have a great weekend. 🙂

#writing #writerslife #iamwritingabook #tipsforwriters #conflict