A fun aspect of books are when they have side characters who have their own problems. We love a good side character, and what’s more fun than seeing them in pain, right? 😜 The problems they experience lead to multiple conflicts, and having all those conflicts is pretty intriguing. This keeps readers interested. There are a couple of things to remember when creating these, however.
- Learn the 3 things multiple conflicts must have
- Apply these to your own writing
1. They Must Matter
The number one rule to having multiple conflicts is that they must matter to the main character. If they are relatable (see past posts mentioned in the recap) and we’re interested in the story due to them, then everything that happens in the story will only be interesting if they are somehow important to the main character.
This leads to another point: there is a main conflict of the story. The rest of the conflicts – the ones we’re talking about today – must be smaller than the main conflict. Otherwise, they would mix up the reader. What is the character really trying to overcome the most? What matters to them the most?
Remember, they all must matter. Just one has to be bigger than the rest.
2. They Can’t Be Overwhelming
There should not be too many conflicts in a story. You, as the writer, and the audience, as the reader, will become very confused if you have too many. Both of you will loose track of what’s going on, what should be going on, and how they’re advancing. They might clash as well, which you definitely don’t want. A story can only hold so many conflicts before it breaks. You don’t want more than one or two side conflicts.
3. They Must Be Necessary
This is basically the same thing as the first point, except that this time, we’re talking about the side-characters. Side-conflicts spring from the side-characters, meaning that they must be important to the side character.
But not just that; they must be necessary in the sense that they advance the plot. How will this affect the side character in the way that the side character will affect the main character? Side conflict → Side character → Main character
If it is going to affect the main character in some way, it must be important to their story. Make sure that all conflicts are necessary in some way.
This past school year, I read the novel To Kill a Mockingbird for English class. It’s a great example of a book with multiple conflicts that are all contributing in a necessary way to the main character and the plot line.
Side conflicts can be very fun to include in books. I enjoy scheming some things for my side characters, and they’re going to be another thing that will interest the reader. So, even if they somehow aren’t interested in the main character, they might keep reading to find out how that side conflict resolves. (that’s happened to me before with books I’ve read 😂)
Now it’s your turn!
Go out there and make life miserable for your side-characters! It’s no longer limited to just the main character 😜 You’ve got this. 😃
Have you ever written side conflicts before?
What is your favorite book with multiple conflicts?