Conflict & resolution

Wrapping up

See you next time!

That's it for this lesson. We covered a lot of territory, so let's take a moment to consolidate the concepts:

  • Conflict is a powerful element in narrative and story.
  • Conflict sits on a continuum with contrast at one end, and confrontation at the other.
    • Contrast represents natural sources of difference in the world.
    • These differences, when juxtaposed, can create friction and tension, which in turn can create conflict.
  • Conflict is the sustained struggle for dominance between opposing forces. 
    • Opposing forces can be characters, groups, or wider environmental and social systems.
  • Conflicts are meaningful only if characters care about the consequences.
    • Whatever characters stand to gain or lose in a conflict are called the stakes.
    • It's not the size of the stakes that are important; it's how much a character cares about them.
  • Conflict can emerge on multiple fronts, including relationship conflict, environmental conflict, and internal struggles.
  • Conflict can be expressed in moments of confrontation, which can include physical, verbal, and emotional struggles for dominance or resolution.
  • The resolution of a conflict often marks the end of a story. Resolutions can include:
    • competitive win/lose/draw situations
    • compromise and cooperation
    • personal growth, maturity, and learning
    • an impasse.

Infographic showing contrast conflict confrontation and resolution in a wilderness story

Advice for developing a story
When you're reading
When you're out in the world

Where did the snippets come from?

Cover of The Third Day, the Frost

The Third Day, the Frost, by John Marsden

Third in the Tomorrow War series, which is one of the greatest action-adventure war stories ever. A group of teenagers in rural Australia become insurgents against an invading army.

Cover of Written in the Stars

Written in the Stars, by Aieesha Said

The story of an American Pakistani girl whose parents catch her with an American boyfriend and then take her to Pakistan where they force her to a marry a complete stranger.

Cover of Across The Nightingale Floor

Across the Nightingale Floor, by Lian Hearn

First book in a stunning fantasy epic set in an alternately-imagined feudal Japan. Takeo, the orphaned member of a persecuted village community, is mentored by a sympathetic lord to become a powerful assassin.

Cover of Kids of Kabul

Kids of Kabul, by Deborah Ellis

Novels like The Third Day, the Frost tell stories about heroic teenagers fighting invading armies, blowing up planes and boats, and generally kicking ass—bu they're fantasies. What's it like to really grow up in a war zone? Kids of Kabul captures accounts from children in Afghanistan in the years after the retreat of the Taliban—stories of fear, frustration, courage, urgency, and hope.

Cover of Looks Like Daylight

Looks Like Daylight, by Deborah Ellis

Frank and honest interviews with Indigenous children and teens in North America and Canada, including many who have lived in residential schools and foster care. Stories of struggle, hope, and trying to find a place in the world.

Cover of Walk Two Moons

Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech

An intricate and layered story of a teenage girl and her father both struggling to come to terms with her mother's departure from their lives, including fighting over new homes and new relationships.

Cover of Catching Teller Crow

Catching Teller Crow, by Ambelin Kwaymullina and Ezekiel Kwaymullina

A dead girl returns as a ghost to help her grieving father solve a mystery involving a burned orphanage and an unidentified body. Published in the U.S. as The Things She's Seen.

Cover of Does my Head Look Big in This

Does My Head Look Big in This, by Randa Abdel-Fattah

The only Muslim girl in a private school decides she wants to start wearing her hijab in public, and has to deal with everyone's reactions, including teachers, friends, and strangers—while also trying to win over a cute boy. 

The cover image

The cover image for this lesson is a detail from a digital painting by Piotr Jablonski.

Image of a group of young children boxing

That's it! See you next time! 👋  

Trouble with Tribbles bar fight GIF from Star Trek

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