Conflict is a pivotal component of any good story.
Without conflict there is nothing at stake. Without conflict there is no reason for the reader to care about the character you have created. Without conflict it would be boring. Conflict adds an interesting element to your story and will always drive your protagonist to act, keeping your reader invested and engaged.
The conflict could be the characters conflict with themselves, a conflict with another character, or a conflict with society, for example.
So, how do we incorporate effective conflict into our book baby?
One of the most important places to start is making sure you know your protagonist inside and out. What drives them? What is important to them? Once you have these things worked out you can come up with something they are trying to achieve. What are they striving towards? What is their end goal?
Now you know what the goal is, put a barrier in the character’s way. For example, if they are applying for their dream promotion create a nasty antagonist who will try to destroy their chances at success for their own malicious reasons. Creating an antagonist is fun. Also, think about what drives your antagonist’s behaviour. What has shaped them?
Tell the reader what the stakes are for your main character if they don’t reach their goal. Show the reader consequences unfolding before the protagonist finds out. This will keep your reader turning the pages.
Think of the story as an obstacle course for your character to conquer. There must be a constant pace of just enough tension for the climax to have maximum impact. Ensure the amount of tension ebbs and flows throughout the story.
The climax must be where your character has a defining moment and there is a point of no return. A decision has to be made and we edge towards the conclusion of the story.
What scares your character? Bring their worst fears to life. Make your reader care about their wellbeing.
Just when the reader thinks your protagonist is nearing the finish line, throw another curve ball their way.
So, go forth and work out how your character will achieve their goal, but whatever you do, don’t make it easy on them. Your readers will thank you and hopefully, your character will forgive you.