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Short Story Writing Tips - Does Your Character Overcome The Conflict Himself?
by: Nick Vernon
Your story belongs to your main character. And because it’s his story, everything associated with that story is his. The goal is his, the problems are his, the conflict is his etc. And because the conflict will arise from a situation in his life, then he has to be the one to solve the conflict in the end.

Why does he have to do this?

For the ending to be satisfying and most importantly, believable.

If a major conflict is occurring in your life and you solve it, will you feel pleased with yourself? Won’t it boost your confidence and give you the strength to overcome anything? Will those feelings be aroused in you if your friend solved the conflict for you?

What if you were to tell that incident to someone, where you outlined all you had gone through and how you resolved the conflict? Wouldn’t they feel pleased with you too? Wouldn’t they think you are a strong individual?

It’s the same with your story. Conflicts that are solved by another character or something else, don’t have satisfying endings. When we become engrossed in the problems of the character and the character himself, we feel cheated when he doesn’t pull through. He disappoints us in the end if he doesn’t resolve his own problems.

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Let’s see an example….

Your character has just lost his job. Christmas is three weeks away.

What’s his conflict?
That he has to go home and tell his wife and kids they won’t be celebrating Christmas as planned.

What are the problems associated with this conflict?
He doesn't want to let them down; he feels like a failure... etc.

How will the conflict be resolved?


1) By another character lending him the money? (Conflict resolved by another character.)

2) By winning the lottery? (Conflict resolved by something else.)

3) By taking on two jobs so his family can have the Christmas they’d planned or an even better Christmas? (Conflict resolved by the character.)


If the character takes option number three and resolves the conflict himself, it would be much more believable because that’s what’s most likely to happen in real life.

Winning the lottery is not too believable – it does happen but it’s a feeble way out in a short story.

Having someone lend him the money is not too believable either. Christmas is approaching. Who has the spare cash to lend at this time of the year? (Besides being another feeble way out)

Although you don’t see it in the brief description of the plot, in the story I have been building up my character to be a strong individual - a survivor who doesn’t give up without a fight. So taking the easy way out will not be believable of his personality either.

By having him take on two jobs and showing that he doesn’t give up without a fight, my ending reinforces all that I had been building up about this character.


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Don’t disappoint your readers. Allow your character to deal with his conflict himself.


About the author:
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Besides his passion for writing, Nick Vernon runs an online gift site where you will find gift information, articles and readers funny stories. Visit http://www.we-recommend.com



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