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5 Tips for Creating Conflict in Your Novel

Conflict in the novel of a self-publishing author offers the characters resistance as they try to meet their goals.

There are two primary types of conflict. External conflict is when the things that are getting in the way of the character achieving their goals are outside of themselves. Internal conflict is when the barriers to the character achieving their goals are inside themselves.

In most books, characters face both internal and external conflicts they must overcome to meet their goals. These conflicts create change within the characters, allowing them to grow throughout the story. They also keep the reader invested.

A woman fixing a flat tire representing a character in a self-publishing novel

Here are five types of conflict that can be added to a self-publishing author’s novel and tips for incorporating them.

1. Technology Malfunction

This is one of the simplest ways self-publishing authors can create external conflict in their novels.

In almost every genre, characters will use tools or equipment of one kind or another to work towards goals. A flat tire, a broken blade, or a hacked computer are all simple and believable obstacles that a self-publishing author can throw at their protagonist without making readers question plausibility.

Self-publishing authors should look for places in their stories where a technology malfunction will set the protagonist back and give them an obstacle to overcome as they strive towards their goals.

2. Weather

Unlike technology malfunctions, weather as a conflict has to be added to a novel carefully.

Readers tend to balk at random hurricanes and tornados thrown in a protagonist’s way. However, when such things are foreshadowed and inserted properly they can add many obstacles for the character to overcome.

Self-publishing authors should always consider what weather obstacles can be woven into the landscape of their settings to make it more difficult for their protagonist to reach their goals.

3. People

Many stories have an antagonist trying to prevent the protagonist from reaching their goals. However, other characters can also be thrown in as obstacles. Whether it is the doctor who can’t tell a detective vital information due to patient confidentiality or a pretty companion the protagonist is catching feelings for that distracts from their mission.

If a story is lacking conflict a self-publishing author should look at adding a character who creates additional conflict even if the story already has an antagonist.

4. Trauma

Characters with complex backstories often have more than their share of trauma. That trauma can impact how they interact with their surroundings and create difficulties in reaching their goals.

This can be anything from difficulty trusting after betrayal to fear that freezes the protagonist in their tracks.

Self-publishing authors should give their protagonists a rich backstory that impacts the protagonist throughout the novel.

5. Time

Another way for self-publishing authors to create conflict is to put their protagonist’s goal on a time limit.

Making a goal time-sensitive automatically brings up the level of conflict because not only does the character need to reach their goal, but they must do it fast or bad things will happen. The bomb will go off, the killer will strike again, the patient will die, or the impoverished family will lose their home.

Self-publishing authors should look at the protagonists’ goals in their novels and see if there is a way to put a short time limit on meeting the goal.

Conflict keeps readers interested in the story and invested in the protagonist and their goals.

Once the protagonist has defeated all the obstacles the self-publishing author has placed in their path and The End has been written on the last page, it’s time to think about sending the novel into the hands of readers. InstantPublisher offers book printing and binding services to self-publishing authors. Visit our website today to learn how we can turn your manuscript into a book and get that book into your reader’s hands.

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