Conflict: The Basis of a Story

By Jared Omoke. Jared is a legal clerk and lives in Nairobi, Kenya. Please read his article and leave thoughts and comments down below.

Stories are a part of our daily lives. They are told to entertain, educate or inform. Stories can be told in different forms like; oral narration, writing, arts or films. Whichever form, a story should have a theme, conflict, and characters.

This piece sets to highlight the various forms of stories and show that conflict doesn’t merely play an important role but is a crucial element of any kind of story.

Conflict, which is a serious incompatibility between two or more opinions, principles, or interests, is an aspect of our daily lives.

The desire to have what we don’t or the drive to change the situation we are in are some of the things that make our lives livable, thus our own lives are full of conflicts.

Stories that are told to entertain like novels usually present an individual who is in a situation that needs to change. The conflict doesn’t have to be violent or confrontational; it could be a simple thing like deciding whether to relocate from one city to the other.

One of the reasons why people go to church is to confess due to the unending struggles between rights and wrongs urges in our lives. Besides, without conflicts therapists would have no work.

In works of fiction, there is always a protagonist and antagonist, opposing the protagonist. The story will follow the protagonist as he finds ways to improve or change the situation.

Autobiographies and biographies which are similar to fiction because they are character-driven, aren’t written just to entertain but because the writers have a lesson to teach or an experience to share. Whatever the reason, they must ask themselves why they think people would read their books, they must consider answering questions like “are there people who are experiencing the same conflicts that I did?”, “are they resisting something?” “What are they doing about it?” as with fiction, the conflicts could be external or internal.

When writing on the development of something, or an invention of new technology, the writer is required to show the challenges he faced during his research or what made him abandon what was already in use. He is even expected to show the possible side effects of the invention.

Inspirational or motivational stories would be very boring if they just shared the best sides or their success stories without including their failures. In essence, the objective of such books or stories is to help people with their personal struggles.

News items that get reported take the form of “man bites dog” which in itself is a conflict. Also when reporting on the progress of a business or offering a testimony, we find it reasonable to share the ups and downs.

We all have personal struggles and challenges, and we all want to find a way out of them. That’s why we need to learn from others who have been in the same situation. Most importantly, when doing a self-assessment, look at our strengths and weaknesses, the two conflicting sides, if you are going to talk about a good life with no challenges or obstacles, I wouldn’t say you have a story but a bunch of words or a riddle without a solution.

Take as an example the life of a boy born in a rich family, where the parents are in love, and they love the boy so much, he gets everything he wants and has no worries because he has everything working perfectly for him without any struggles, and he has no interpersonal challenges, he is confident and has no desires at all. This kind of a “story” begs the question, “Why are we being told this?”

It’s due to these that I agree with Veronica Roth that, “If there’s no conflict, there are no stories worth telling – or reading,”




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