Wednesday, July 22, 2015

75+ Ways to Make Things Tough on a Character

No story goes along smoothly for the main character. In fact, how they respond to adversity is how we get attached to the people in the novels we love. If they don't struggle to get what they need, we won't want to read to the end. There are innumerable ways for conflict to occur in a story.  I've listed the 75 I've come across in my or another author's writing.

1. Everything has been working fine, until now.
2. The best friend is disloyal/undermining/lying
3. They aren't his parents
4. The power goes out
5. The car beaks down
6. What she thought she knew is wrong
7. Injury
8. Attack
9. Not everyone made it to the agreed upon site
10. What was safe once is no longer safe
11. Supplies are lost or stolen
12. Weather change
13. Ambush
14. The character's arrival is expected
15. The character's arrival is unexpected
16. Sibling jealousy
17. Paralyzing fear
18. The parameters are changed
19. She refuses to go
20. Misplaced information
21. Locked door/cabinet/safe
22. Locked out of the city/house/business
23. Sabotage
24. Time is running out
25. He gets lost
26. Incorrect assumption
27. Malfunction
28. Loss of food supplies
29. Dangerous terrain
30. It is believed impossible
31. House burns down
32. Loss of parents/family
33. Loss of faith
34. Poison/illness/plague
35. Arriving late/early
36. Flight/bus/train cancelled
37. The store is closed
38. Misplaced keys/ticket/passport/spell/identification
39. Difficult terrain
40. Battery runs out
41. Old injury/illness flairs
42. Toothache/pink eye/infection
43. Curiosity
44. An immovable object
45. Prejudice
46. Mugged
47. Lost luggage
48. Missing vital ingredient/material
49. Lacks a skill/knowledge
50. A telegram/email/missive/letter
51. Inheritance
52. Loss of fortune
53. Ostracized/disowned/ignored
54. Waking up to a major change
55. Loss of memory
56. A misunderstanding
57. Death of a loved one
58. A major decision
59. Uncertainty
60. Phobias
61. A tool/skill/talent/gift has special powers, but the character can't figure out how to work it
62. War
63. The craft is spinning out of control
64. The world is coming to an end
65. The phone/communication device goes dead
66. Someone has released the dogs/lion/critters with unfriendly intent
67. Things just don't look/smell/feel/sound right
68. The other character would not normally say that
69. An unfamiliar vehicle has parked outside and the people in it appear to be watching the house/business
70. S/he won't/doesn't answer the phone
71. Heart-broken
72. Lack of confidence
73. Impatience
74. Tied up/trapped
75. supernatural/unnatural change of self/enemy/friend/general population (i.e., Zombies)
UPDATE to list provided by Marcy Peska.
76.  curses and other magical obstacles 
77. trolls under bridges
78. gastric distress from eating too many sugar-free candies
79. small and uncooperative children
80. hobbits too interested in mushrooms and second breakfast
81. abrupt changes in mental status/consciousness
82. being unable to act effectively due to being grounded or having to go to work. [?] 
83.  Oh...and having a small bladder which requires frequent bathroom breaks. [?]

If you are a writer or a reader, you are aware of many conflicts that characters have faced. What  conflicts have your favorite characters faced? What other conflicts can you add to this list.


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