7 Types of Internal Conflict in Literature (Plus How To Use Them)

Here are several types of internal conflict:
  • Religious conflict. Religious conflicts occur when a character’s thoughts or feelings contradict their religious beliefs. …
  • Moral conflict. …
  • Self-perception conflict. …
  • Love conflict. …
  • Political conflict. …
  • Societal conflict. …
  • Existential conflict. …
  • Develop your character.

Conflict is the source of tension that propels all literary works, whether you’re reading a gripping family saga, an epic adventure, or a spooky horror tale. Although conflict is a crucial component of stories, not all conflicts are the same and can occur both outside and inside a character’s head. Internal and external conflict provide the templates for a variety of fascinating stories, from disastrous conflicts with nature to battles against evil villains to moral conundrums.

8 Types Of Internal Conflict That Sabotage Your Growth & How To Overcome Them

Types of internal conflict

Here are several types of internal conflict:

Religious conflict

When a character’s thoughts or feelings conflict with their religious beliefs, religious conflicts arise. This may cause the character to doubt their own judgment or their own feelings. As an illustration, a persona who was raised as a pacifist is conscripted into battle. Though they want to support their squad and their fellow soldiers, their religious convictions forbid them from engaging in combat.

Moral conflict

Moral conflict refers to a struggle between two opposing values. Characters might think about doing something against their morals in order to accomplish a goal or live up to expectations. For instance, a high school student might think about lying on a test to increase her chances of admission to a prestigious university.

Self-perception conflict

Self-perception conflicts happen when characters fight internally about their authenticity. They might wonder whether they are being authentic when they interact with others. For instance, a character seeking public office might feel conflicted between the carefully cultivated persona they present to the public and their true selves. Characters doubt their self-image and self-awareness.

Love conflict

When characters must make a choice that could harm someone they care about, a love conflict arises. These circumstances might arise when a character must act for the greater good or when their decision will ultimately help a loved one despite suffering some consequences. As an illustration, a mother might decide to send her kids to live with their grandparents while she manages her personal and financial issues.

Political conflict

Political conflict occurs when a character contends with their political beliefs, such as when they support a politician’s policies but dislike their demeanor. When a character learns that their own party is implementing a policy they disagree with, this can also lead to political conflict. Sometimes, political conflicts can overlap with moral conflicts. For instance, a politician might think about lying to advance a cause they believe will be beneficial to the general public.

Societal conflict

When a character has conflicting feelings about their place in society or what people expect of them, they are said to be experiencing societal conflict. For instance, a 1950s mother who is passionate about pursuing a career might struggle with the social pressure to be a stay-at-home mother.

Existential conflict

Characters experience existential conflicts when they question their position or goal in the universe. They could be worries or inquiries into the nature of the universe or the purpose of life. As a character deals with their grief after a traumatic loss, for instance, they might start to wonder what their life is all about.

What is an internal conflict?

When a fictional character feels conflict within themselves, there is an internal conflict. The opposite of internal conflict is external conflict, which happens when a character encounters outside antagonistic forces like another character or a natural disaster. Sometimes referred to as man vs. Internal conflicts occur when a character has conflicting needs, desires, or values. These conflicts can occasionally be seen as being between a character’s heart and feelings and their mind or subjective knowledge. Internal conflicts can include struggles about:

Characters coping with internal conflicts may feel fear, anxiety, doubt, and confusion. These emotions can result in climactic scenes that force the character to make a choice.

How to use internal conflict

A key element of fiction is conflict, which moves the plot along and reveals aspects of a character’s motivation, values, and personality. A character’s internal conflict aids in the character’s progression through the narrative. You can use internal conflict in your writing by following these steps:

1. Develop your character

You should create the character you want to work with before creating an internal conflict. Develop the characters personality, interests, motivations and desires. Your character will be more believable and easier to determine the types of conflict they might encounter if you can give them more depth.

2. Identify the characters goals

Determine what your character wants to accomplish in the story. This can be a personal or professional achievement. The characters goals help explain their motivations and behaviors. Knowing the character’s desires also makes it simpler to put a roadblock in their way and bring about conflict.

3. Introduce a conflict

Make a decision regarding the type of internal conflict you want to give your character. These specifics depend on your story’s setting, tone, and genre. For instance, the character’s internal conflict may be humorous and lighthearted if you’re writing a humorous novel. The conflict in your period drama may be one that puts someone’s life in danger.

To make the conflict believable for the character, the conflict should also be directly related to the goals and desires of the character. Think about what entities, programs, or occurrences might threaten the character’s objectives.

4. Strengthen the conflict

The conflict in the story should intensify as it goes along to keep readers interested. You can increase the tension in the narrative by adding more layers to the internal conflict, such as by fusing romantic and religious conflicts. This keeps readers interested in the protagonist and the way the conflict is resolved.

5. Create a turning point

When the internal conflict is at its most intense, your character should be forced to make a choice. Usually, this decision affects the character’s course throughout the remainder of the narrative.

6. Resolve the conflict

Internal conflicts may resolve in a variety of ways. The majority of stories have a conflict resolution, but characters might still be dealing with some internal conflicts. Make sure the conclusion makes sense for your character when writing a resolution or addressing the conflict to increase plausibility.

Tips for using internal conflict

The following advice can help you create internal conflicts in your writing:


What are the 3 types of internal conflict?

Internal conflict can come in three different forms: interpersonal conflict, group conflict, and internal conflict when working with others.

What are 5 internal conflicts?

Internal conflict usually falls into five main “triggers”:
  • Desire, or something the character wants.
  • Need, or something the character requires for survival.
  • Duty or any other duty that a person feels is appropriate or necessary
  • Fear, or a strong worry that drives the character.

What is the main type of internal conflict?

There are, in fact, a variety of internal conflicts, such as: Religious conflicts arise when a person starts to doubt their religion or culture. For instance, a person might question God following the passing of a loved one. Your morals and your sexual desires are at war in sexual conflicts.

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