How Does Internal Conflict Fit into the Character’s Arc?

Today’s guest post is by Becca Puglisi.

If you’re writing a story in which your attribute will need to evolve internally to achieve his goal, a cohesive and well-planned character arc will be vital to its success. This type of arc( a change arc) requires internal conflict, which will provide opportunities for your persona to adapt and grow.

But first, let’s speedily summarize what the vary arc is and what it looks like.

At their nerve, most stories boil down to a simple formula: It’s a story about A( the specific characteristics) who wants B( aim/ outer motivation) because Y( inner motivation ). That Y explains why the character so desperately wants to achieve the goal. If you look at the movie Groundhog Day, Phil Connors( A) is intended to win Rita’s adore( B) so he can find meaning in an utterly meaningless life-time( Y ). This example shows how the character’s outer and inner motivations work together in the story.

The outer conflict is the main external thing stopping the character from his aim. Phil’s conflict comes in the form of the supernatural forces that have him reliving the same day over and over, inducing it virtually impossible to get Rita to fall in love with him.

But what internal conflict or strive does Phil experience throughout the story? Or, as Michael Hauge throws it in Writing Screenplays that Sell: What is standing in the way of the character achieving real self-worth as he prosecutes his inner motivation? In Phil’s case, he simply desires himself too much to adoration anyone else. This is why his initial attempts to win Rita’s heart fail–not because of time limitations but because his motivatings are selfish. She meets him for the pretentious, deigning, self-absorbed prat he’s always been, so he has to resort to deception and trickery to achieve his goal. And it never works.

At his core, Phil determines himself as superior to everyone else. His inner conflict arises from the incongruence between this core perception and the truth: that every person has worth, and intent is detected not so much better in being desired but in caring and serving others. His neglected attempts to connect with Rita through subversive signifies provide internal conflict opportunities as he realizes that his ideology is shortcoming; until he can learn to value others and stop living alone for himself, “peoples lives” will always absence necessitating. Once he’s able to realign his perception with the truth and modification his action, he sees purpose through love, and his internal conflict is resolved.

So this, in a nutshell is the change arc. It’s made up of some vital components that you’ll need to know if you’re going to map things out successfully during the course of the tale: the character’s outer motivating, their inner motivation, the primary outer conflict, and their inner conflict.

Figuring Out the Inner Motivation

It’s not surprising that the internal pieces are the hardest to nail down. These are subtle, and very often, they’re actively being obscured or stifled by the character. But the inner motivation becomes obvious when you start looking for their missing human need.

Each person, and therefore each character, is unique and distinctly different. But certain elements are universal to the human experience–namely, the human needs that we require to be fulfilled.

When any of these needs are unmet, subliminal warning bells start running off. And the bigger that unmet need develops, the more motivated the character will become to fill the void. The drive to regain a missing human need will often become their inner motivation–the reason they’re pursuing the outer narrative goal.

As an example, Phil’s missing human need is intending( self-actualization ), something a life spent serving himself merely doesn’t furnish. Deep down, he’s trying that the aims and subconsciously believes he’ll obtain it if he can find true love with Rita.

Once you know that a missing need is the key to the character’s internal motivation, that article of the puzzle often becomes clear. Sometimes it actually helps to start your investigate of their arc with this element. If you can easily identify the void the character is desperately seeking to fill, use that information to fill in the remainder of the gaps.

What tale goal might he engage because he subconsciously believes that achieving the goal will satisfy his need? What external conflict generator could realistically oppose him in the pursuit of that goal throughout the story? What internal conflict would get in the way?

Tips for Figuring out the Internal Conflict

And here’s where it gets tricky, because the internal material is harder to identify. When you’re nutting out your character’s internal conflict, think about things the specific characteristics wants that put him at odds with himself–things like…

Opposing or rivalling craves, needs, or lusts Confusion about how he should feel Questions surrounding his core beliefs or appreciates Indecision, insecurity, self-doubt, or another emotion that throws him at odds with himself Conflicting duties and responsibilities Grappling with an aspect of mental health A are concerns that preserves him from doing what he known to should do A secret he envisions must be protected( perhaps on issues related to a past wounding experience ?)

These are just a few possibilities. Basically, you want to look for internal areas that are a source of struggle for the character. These are places where they’re always opposing with themselves–or homes they consistently eschew or deny. Identifying those areas can help you narrow the field of possibilities for your character’s main source of internal conflict. Then it’s a matter of finding the perfect one to fit your attribute and their story.

Two Truths about Your Character’s Internal Conflict

It Will Directly Oppose the Inner Motivation. We see this with Phil Connors. He’s seeking connect with others as a path to gain purpose for his life, but his ideology in his own advantage maintenances him from being able to do that.

Whatever form the character’s internal conflict takes, it typically will block their inner motivation, denying them the one thing they desperately crave or need. This conundrum will be determined by tons of conflict for the hero. It will also provide opportunities for the character to scour his magnitudes and eventually understand what change needs to occur so he can be free of that inner struggle.

It Will Be Tied to Self-Esteem or Fulfillment. The strongest internal conflicts are ones that touch on the most vulnerable parts of the character’s psyche: his feelings and perceptions about himself. These fundamental thoughts are like the ground level of a house of cards. Poke at them and the whole thing could come crashing down.

When Phil obtains himself reliving the same day over and over, he applies the modus operandi he’s utilized all his life: he does exactly what he wants and doesn’t care how his actions impact others. But as one day blends interminably into the next, self-indulgence terminates to satisfy. He’s unhappy because he’s been chasing the wrong objective. Until he is able to elevate others above himself, he’ll continue to be conflicted and will never be at peace.

This is story-level internal conflict–the main wrestling match that your character will struggle with over the course of the story. If your persona is spanning a modify arc, you must know what their main internal conflict is so you’ll know what they need to address before the final page. The same is true if your story contains a miscarried arc; the only difference here is that the character will fail to embrace the modify that is necessary for them to become fully realized, and their travel will end with them in the same place( or a worse one) than when they started.

Unearthing the important elements of your character’s arc can be tricky, but with a little digging, you can identify them to see how they fit together. To help, Angela and I “ve created” a free resource that you can download from our Writing Tools page. We likewise explore the many forms, generators, intents, and benefits of conflict in our newest volume, The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles.

Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach-and-four, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and other resources for writers. Her books have sold over 700,000 copies and are available in multiple expressions, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers–a powerhouse online resource for authors that’s home to the Character Builder and Storyteller’s Roadmap tools.

Featured Photo by jean wimmerlin on Unsplash

The post How Does Internal Conflict Fit into the Character’s Arc ? firstly appeared on Live Write Thrive.

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