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Internal and External


Internal ConflictDefinition: A struggle that takes place in a character's mind is called internal conflict.


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Internal Conflict is:

~NOT a visual or tangible opposition.
~a character dealing with his or her own mixed feelings or emotions.

Example: A character may have to decide between right and wrong or between two solutions to a problem.


External Conflict
Definition: A struggle between a character and an outside force is an external conflict.

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Examples of External Conflict:

~Characters may face several types of outside forces.
~The outside force may be another character. It may be the character and the community.
~The outside force may also be forces of nature. For example, a story might be the main character struggling against the arctic cold.


Types of Conflict Explained:

Man vs. Nature
Man vs. Nature

Man Versus Nature

Nature serves as the obstacle for characters. You could choose to write a particular scene around a natural calamity such as a typhoon or tsunami. There are many stories waiting to be explored because, in my opinion, an inspirational story such as the triumph of human spirit over adversity will never go out of fashion.
Example of Man Versus Nature Conflict
The excerpt below is from Life of Pi by Yann Martel and a great part of the book is set in the middle of the sea.
The ship sank. It made a sound like a monstrous metallic burp. Things bubbled at the surface and then vanished.
Everything was screaming: the sea, the wind, my heart. From the lifeboat I saw something in the water.
I cried, "Richard Parker, is that you? It's so hard to see. Oh, that this rain would stop! Richard Parker? Richard Parker? Yes, it is you!"
I could see his head. He was struggling to stay at the surface of the water.
"Jesus, Mary, Muhammad and Vishnu, how good to see you, Richard Parker!
Don't give up, please. Come to the lifeboat. Do you hear this whistle? TREEEEEE! TREEEEEE! TREEEEEE!






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Man Versus Self

These are internal battles that characters wage within themselves; these are internal issues that affect their actions, motivations and interactions with other characters. The conflict can be a recurring theme throughout the story or at a particular point in time. In Julius Caesar, Brutus constantly struggles with his feeling towards his friend Caesar and his country.
Example of Man Versus Self Conflict
The below excerpt from Gora by Tagore is an example of a momentary internal conflict.
“…as the cab drove away, the girl joined her hands in a brief namaskar. Utterly unprepared for this gesture, Binoy remained frozen, unable to respond. Back home, he repeatedly cursed himself for this minor lapse. Scrutinizing his own conduct in their company from their first encounter to the moment of parting, he felt that his manner had been rather uncivil. He tormented himself with futile thoughts of what he could have said or done at specific moments.”




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Man vs. Man

Man vs. man is the most easily recognizable conflict in literature. Man vs. man simply means that one or more characters in a story is at some form of odds with one or more other characters in the same story. The conflict could be intense or subtle.
Example of an intense man vs. man conflict
The detective stories of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. His detective character Sherlock Holmes and the clients that come to seek his assistance are often directly at odds with a thief, a murderer, or a lier. Throughout the length of the story, there are normally many scenes of direct, sometimes violent, confrontation.
An example of subtle man vs. man conflict
The famous novel Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. Within this book there are a multitude of examples of subtle conflict such as: Lizzie vs. Darcy, Mrs. Bennett vs Mr. Bennett, Darcy vs. Wickham, Lydia vs. her family, and Mr. Collins vs. Lizzie. These confrontations are mostly verbal and even unspoken at times, but the strain of the conflict pervades throughout the story making the reader want resolution.
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Man Versus Society

These are conflicts where your characters’ firm beliefs are against norms that the entire society as a whole endorses. It could be social evils or discrimination practiced by society that is opposed by a minority.
Example of Man Versus Society Conflict
The excerpt below is from To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It is the story set in a fictional town in America at a time when racial discrimination was at its height.
“Scout,” said Atticus, “nigger lover is just one of those terms that don’t mean anything. It’s hard to explain – ignorant, trashy people use it when they think somebody is favouring Negroes over and above themselves. ..”
“You aren’t really a nigger lover are you?”
“ I certainly am. I do my best to love everybody. It’s never an insult to be called what somebody thinks is a bad name. It just shows you how poor that person is, it doesn’t hurt you. So don’t let Mrs. Dubose get you down…”

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Man Versus Supernatural

Supernatural elements are typically those that defy the laws of nature and are beyond scientific understanding. Such a setting adds gravitas and drama to the story. If you are using super natural elements you might want to make sure what genre you are writing in.
Example of Man Versus Supernatural Conflict
Excerpt from Vikram and Baital, an Indian fairytale.
Remember the old saying, mighty Vikram!" said the Baital, with a sneer, "that many a tongue has cut many a throat. I have yielded to your resolution and I am about to accompany you, bound to your back like a beggar's wallet.
But pay heed to my words, as we set out upon the way. I am in talkative mood, and it is well near an hour's walk between this tree and the place where your friend sits. Therefore, I shall try to distract my thoughts, which otherwise might not be of the most pleasing nature, by means of sprightly tales and profitable reflections.
The great king nodded.

Identify Types of Conflict

Click for a slide share on identifying conflict in literature.
Click for a slide share on identifying conflict in literature.




Explain the internal/external conflict from this photo:
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Double Cheeseburger Conflict
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Explain the possible internal conflict from this photo. What are some examples of what could be taking place in a person's mind for this internal conflict?


Calvin & Hobbes Cartoon
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Explain the external conflict from this photo. What is the subcategory of this conflict? How do you know?



Book Lists:


Man vs Nature:





Stranded
Stranded

Yes, by the host of the T.V. show Survivor



My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)
My Side of the Mountain (Mountain, #1)



The Raft
The Raft







cabinontroublecreek.jpg
cabinontroublecreek.jpg






icedrift.jpg
icedrift.jpg




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thehatchet.jpg



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Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin, 1948
Daughter of the Mountains by Louise Rankin, 1948






Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert, 1971
Incident at Hawk's Hill by Allan W. Eckert, 1971





Nature Girl
Nature Girl




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Man vs Self

Scorpions
Scorpions





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