Conflict & resolution

Internal conflict

Broken model

In this snippet from Catching Teller Crow, the narrator (the ghost of a dead girl) has just found out that her grieving father is not going to Grandpa Jim's birthday, which is a big deal to her and her surviving family.

How does this create an internal conflict within the narrator?

There was a queasy sensation in my stomach. Had I been getting things wrong, all this time? I'd been focused on getting Dad back to who he'd been before I died. Now I was thinking I should have been helping him to go on to become a person who knew how to live in a world where I wasn't alive. A person who'd go to Grandpa Jim's birthday.

I had no idea what to do anymore.

Catching Teller CrowAmbelin KwaymullinaEzekiel KwaymullinaSource
When our mental model of the world breaks
What was Beth's mental model of the world, and how has it failed?
What are the 'opposing forces' in this situation?

Here are some examples of characters struggling with similar mental model vs reality conflicts:

Vincent wanted to throw up. He had believed he was a ninja. He'd watched almost all of Naruto like it was a documentary: with hard work and tenacity you can achieve any goal; with kicks and flips you can defeat any enemy. But he'd done all that and now Expert was dead and Vincent wondered if the opposite was true: that it didn't matter what you did, the world was going to do what it wanted with you, and if you ever had a choice, you should run.

This way of thinking felt wrong, like he was living in someone else's skin.

I'd always thought you were supposed to try and make your girlfriend or boyfriend happy. You'd try and do what they wanted. So if Charlie said I was too clingy, I'd back off and gave her space like you're supposed to do. But as soon as I backed off, she'd say I was too distant, so then I'd come back and spend more time with her, at which point she'd say I was clingy again. Like a merry-go-round. Did I have it all wrong? Was I trying too hard to please her? Did that make it too easy to take me for granted? Would I be more attractive to her if I played harder to get? It was exhausting. 

I wondered how much of this was down to being the only two out lesbians at school, the claustrophobia of it. Sometimes it felt like we were two beetles in a terrarium with hot lights bearing down and a bunch of faces pressed to the glass, so there was no way we could ever act freely or normally.

But other times I wondered if the problem was with us.

To write a variation
Your turn

We could say this type of internal conflict is born of ignorance.

What about internal conflict born of competing desires or values?

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