The most important element of any story is ‘conflict’.
Conflict is critical because it gives your main character a challenge to overcome.
It creates tension that keeps the audience interested in what is going to happen next.
It propels the story forward towards a grand confrontation and a resolution.
It forces the character to make tough choices, to transition, to evolve and ultimately emerge in a new place which might be better or worse.
And it makes the resolution of the story much more rewarding.
Conflict can be internal (your character could battle his own psychological issues) or external (he could face opposition from other characters, nature or society at large).
And there can be more than one conflict in your story. You can have your character deal with both internal and external conflicts at the same time.
You also need to figure out what role your brand plays in the story.
Does it actively help the character overcome his challenges? Does it simply recognize and support his struggle? Does it reward him when he finally triumphs? Or… is it the character’s antagonist all along, determined to prevent him for succeeding?
Walk down each of these conflict paths below to see which one yields the freshest and most suitable story for your brand.
Character vs. Self
Give your character some flaws.
Let her have doubts, prejudices, fears, hang-ups, compulsions, temptations and impulses.
Make her struggle to choose between right and wrong.
Overcome her with emotions and feelings.
Get her to fight with an alter ego or a split personality.
Or let her embark on a challenge of her own making.
Character vs. Character.
Let your character face opposition from one or more other characters in your story.
Let the good guy battle the bad guy.
You have a world of bad guys, both natural and supernatural, at your disposal.
Take your pick from ruthless bosses, envious colleagues, school yard bullies, rival candidates, jilted lovers, cut-throat pirates, scheming villains, marauding hordes, creepy psychopaths, transforming robots, fire-breathing dragons, slinking ghosts and vengeful Gods.
Character vs. Nature.
Have your character battle a natural force.
Make her escape from a tornado, a flood, an earthquake, a gale-force wind, an avalanche or a fire.
Let her battle to stay alive in the heat, the cold, the dark or the deep.
Bring her face to face with the worst in the animal kingdom.
Character vs. Society.
Have your character struggle to either stand out or fit in.
Make him a hero. Or a victim.
Have him confront institutions and laws, customs, traditions, rules and cultural norms.
Compel him to fight for a cause, against injustice and inequality.
Send him out into the world as a revolutionary, a rebel or a freedom fighter.
Or turn him into a much-ridiculed loser who simply wrangles for social acceptance.
Character vs. Technology.
Have your character struggle to keep up with technology.
Frustrate her with computers, codes, automation, de-humanization and the ever-growing complexity of the modern world.
Confront her with the moral dilemmas that the progress of civilization brings – like factory farming and environmental destruction.
Character vs. Fate.
Pit your character against his own destiny.
Let him yearn to be someone else, or something he can never be.
Weigh him down with loneliness and isolation.
Make him fight disease or death.
Have events turn against him, thwarting his best-laid plans.