Does conflict equal action?


Ponder the above question with me.


I’ve been told my writing “lacks conflict”.

So… what is conflict anyways?

Disclaimer: I’m referring to short stories, not novels. :lumi:


Conflict can come in multiple forms, some of which includes the following:

  • Internal conflict (“can I handle the consequences of my actions?”)
  • Outer conflict (“The world is crashing and burning around me”)
  • Romantic conflict (“We can’t be together because of this”)
  • Plot conflict (“The world is crashing and burning around me and I must do something”)


So, would you consider a person being unable to sleep due to restless thoughts a conflict?


I think this can be considered to be a matter of opinion. I think that any contrast of ideas can be considered conflict. For example, emotional tension can be considered conflict, although actions taken can also be used as conflict. Conflict is commonly used as a plot driver, without it the story lacks a purpose (in simple terms). I think the best way to create conflict is through contrast of ideas, characters, and motivation. You could even have two characters who have the same goal, although they have different reasons for trying to achieve it.

I hope this helps… ^-^


Conflict really is anything that prevents your protagonist from achieving their goals/motives.

If you have a man vs. self conflict, then the antagonst (the protagonist) is conflicted. It can be anything from the protag feeling insecure in life and feels that they aren’t good enough to achieve their goals.

Conflict doesn’t necessarily need to be “in your face” crazy. A lot of amateur writers believe this to be the case, so they’ll start their story with some over the top scene full of cliches and melodrama. A conflict really can literally be anything.


It does. Thank you.


I don’t write “in your face” crazy and everyone in my writing class is bitching about it to me.

Even my TA is telling me that I lack conflict or that it’s very weak.


The prompt was interiority, so getting up all in your character’s thoughts.

So, I gave them insomnia because they’re stressing and worried and shit.

Got deep into their thoughts while describing the scenery around them.

Ended it with them making a mental resolution to better things around them.

They even managed to fall asleep, which solved the conflict of them not being able to.



Ugh, that is super annoying when the TA’s get like that. My teacher said the first chapter lacked conflict, and it did but I presented the third chapter, very emotional and rich chapter… And he loved it. It had tons of conflict and he changed his tune about my story.

The thing is that the conflict wasn’t in your face. It was a realistic situation and one that really made the reader think about what’s going to happen to the character.

As long as you have realistic obstacles the conflict should ring true to the story…

Is the TA a good writer? Or understanding?


Was there anything at stake if they didn’t get to sleep? Obviously restlessness, but I mean did the protagonist feel anything was at stake?


Problem is… we had to do it in very short stories with very specific prompts.

So, we have to craft a complete short story WHILE linking all the short stories together.

And then, if you do one well but fail at the other, you get people bitching at you.

I’m so glad we don’t have to stick to our prompts for revisions.

Yeah, I’m doing that, too!

Everything is realistic.

Good writer? I have no idea. Never read their stuff. Understanding? Eh… maybe.

To summarize my crappy story up 'till now, my MC was forced to become a soldier for a war she doesn’t agree with. So, the reflection piece I did was her being homesick, thinking about how training was going (even legit looking at scars she’s gotten), and then she finally gets around to her motivations for fighting… which is the fact that she wants to go back home. Thinking about reliving some of her favorite memories again motivates her enough to want to fight and then she sleeps. It’s quite a decent piece for one I wrote last minute yet the TA in my class wrote that:

  • lack of scene and conflict
  • no real character development or development of action/plot
  • ends very flat, one dimension

So… I am very confused and these comments make me feel like a shit writer.

That’s literally all they wrote.


I guess I should just rip everything apart and do fake action scenes to please people.

My TA is the one that will be grading this.



I’m sorry you’re having such a bad experience with this class. I wish I could transport you to fiction classes here, but I think they’re being taught by the cocky professor who thinks he’s the best. XD


Well, it’s almost over, so that’s a plus.

It still sucks to have your writing get shit on with… literally no suggestions how to fix it.

The only praise I got from my TA was a check plus in grammar on the rubric. :rofl:

I might have to hit up some people on Wattpad to get some real critiques.


I’ve had to do that before. Ask people on Wattpad, but my class was pretty solid. We had at least 10 really good critics out of 25 students. Granted, most of the class knew what the heck they were doing. So there’s that.


That must have been nice. Meanwhile, I’m surrounded by people who don’t care, a tutor who has completely given up on us, and a TA who is so busy that they can only give feedback on 2 pieces.

So… I literally have no usable feedback. I just have a lot of shit people threw at me.


Sounds like the worst writing division I’ve ever heard of and I’ve seen a lot of crappy ones in the past… this one takes the cake. :confused:

If you have student opinion of teaching soon, blast it for all its worth.


Mmhm. Definitely a mess. Then again, it was my professor’s first time teaching.

So, maybe she didn’t really know how to organize stuff?

I actually applied to be a writing tutor myself, and I got the position.

I just need the go ahead from the professor before I can enroll.

Thankfully, it’s a different professor from the one I took.


In what way was she not organized? I had a very intelligent but scatter brained intro to literary criticism professor. She was a wonderful lady, but she was soooo disorganized. She didn’t even give us a syllabus that semester. It was a disaster… grading took her 1 month after midterms were turned in. 1


Oh cool! Being a writing tutor is awesome :slight_smile: At my school it’s the grad student English masters who get the priority over the others, but there are a few tutors who aren’t English people. At least there have been in the past.