Narrative Writing



Conflict is the main ingredient of any story.

Your main character (protagonist) must want something very badly. A bad guy (antagonist) stands in their way. The conflict that ensues is what makes your story interesting.

There are six main types of conflict.

1) Person vs. Person

Most commonly, the conflict is between a "good guy" (protagonist) and a "bad guy" (antagonist). Here is one example:

Detective Jones has been assigned a new case: To find the serial killer who has been terrorizing New York City. Can Jones discover the murderer's identity before he strikes again?

Sometimes, however, the conflict is between two good people who have opposing goals.

Susan is a fashion consultant who loves her high-paying job in the city. Joe is a laid-back rancher who has a passion for protecting wild horses. Can they overcome their differences to find true love?

2) Person vs. Self

A person struggles against himself. We also call this internal conflict.

Joe has discovered a clever way to steal money from his church—money that the church is planning to donate to a local orphanage. The best thing about his plan is that no one will ever find out. Will Joe carry out his plan, even after befriending an orphan who thinks that he's a hero?

3) Person vs. Society

Sometimes we call this a "fish out of water" story. Typically, these stories involve people who find themselves at odds with the expectations of society.

Stargirl doesn't fit in with the other students at Micah High. They think she's weird, and even her boyfriend, Leo, wants her to act more "normal". Will she succumb to peer pressure and become just like everybody else? Or will she stay true to who she really is?

4) Person vs. Nature

A person struggles against the forces of nature.

Robinson Crusoe has been stranded on a deserted island. To survive he must battle cold, hunger, and wild animals. Can he survive against the forces of nature?

5) Person vs. the Unknown, Extraterrestrial, or Supernatural

A person must struggle against forces that are not of this world (including monsters, magical beings, aliens from another planet, etc.).

A babysitter discovers that the Fitzroy family practices secret voodoo rituals. Her terror increases when she discovers that they have made a voodoo doll that looks a lot like herself. Can she uncover the family's dark secret before falling victim to their voodoo magic?

6) Person vs. Technology

Joe suspects that there's a downside to time travel: Some of the visitors who have come from the future don't seem completely human. Can he protect his town from an invasion of super-intelligent robots?


Here, once again, are the six main types of conflict:

  1. Person vs. Person
  2. Person vs. Self
  3. Person vs. Society
  4. Person vs. Nature
  5. Person vs. the Unknown, Extraterrestrial, or Supernatural
  6. Person vs. Technology

Instructions for the Quiz

Identify the type of conflict.