General, writing

Conflict: Versus Self

Man versus Self is one of six types of conflict. I discussed conflict and how it matters in writing in an earlier post. Each form has their own unique characteristics which sets it apart from the others.

Of each type, Man versus Self conflicts might seem like the easiest to identify. Often, these are the internal conflicts each character deals with that stem from moral dilemmas or opposing personal goals. Conflicts of the self are going to pit your character against their worst enemy: themselves.

That internal nature of the versus Self also leads this to be a huge component in stories of change and growth. The beauty of this type of conflict is that it’s one that can be utilized on practically every character (including your antagonist): What one personal thing holds them back from reaching their goal? And how do they feel about that obstacle?

If you’re struggling with character arcs, this type of conflict can be an underlying cause. Take a look at what your characters are struggling with and see if you can identify where they’re against others and where they’re fighting themselves and their own limitations. You might find there’s an imbalance between what your minor characters’ versus Self struggles and any other conflicts they’re involved in.


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