Defining Internal Conflict In A Character



I learned at an early age about oral storytelling from elderly family members, was read to as a tiny child, and have had a lifelong love affair with writing. That being said, in a traditional classroom, I was a terrible student and hardly listened to two sentences put together by my teachers. There are a lot of things I either ignored willfully or daydreamed through, specifically English, which is not a good thing.

One particular section of storytelling has been a challenge: conflict within a story character. If you don’t have an excellent grasp of internal conflict vs. external in writing, it’s difficult to give your book people depth. I use the Scrivener Character templates commonly found in the software, and they always ask the character’s internal and external conflicts.

I stumbled across this page on Internal Conflict: Definitions, Types & Examples, and the accompanying video are excellent! Unfortunately for me, partway through the video they ask you to subscribe.

Quizlet has “flashcards” on Internal and External Conflict, and you can use them for free. Internal & External Conflicts Flash Cards categorize into Man vs. Self, etc.

I love’s definition of Internal Conflict, drawing on the turmoil in Prince Hamlet’s mind for internal conflict drive his inaction.

NaNoWriMo Prep for Creating External and Internal Conflict is another clear post on the Antagonist’s Internal and External Conflict. For young writers, NaNoWriMo offers elementary, middle school, and high school “notebooks” with a wealth of writer helps, including internal and external conflict. This is part of their Young Writers’ Program in November, but the notebooks are available year long. NaNoWriMo Notebooks for Young Writers

In my case, a major character of a Work in Progress is at war within himself in a new relationship and an old (can’t give away my storyline!). How many of us can relate to that? Harboring feelings for an old lover versus opening our hearts up to a new one? Going back to work after having a baby, but feeling guilty about being away from it? Moving away but feeling guilty about leaving elderly parents behind? There are loads and loads of Internal Conflicts humans face.

Internal Conflict can make you sick if it’s not resolved or at least dealt with by compromise. Of course, Hamlet’s technique for dealing with Internal Conflict causes regicide, suicide, homicide, and a plethora of other bad things at the end of the play. Nothing like a Shakespearean tragedy to tie up all the loose ends!

So these are a few things to think about when asking what internal turmoil makes your characters interesting.



Importing A Scrivener File Into A Genre Template

In April, I blogged about discovering Jami Gold’s Romance Template and beat sheet, and a friend of mine asked how to incorporate her work in progress. At the time, I didn’t have the answer but can give some insight now.

If you “Pantsed” your way through Camp NaNoWriMo with a romance project, Jami’s template is an excellent way to get organized and recharged. All those feverishly written chapters can be lassoed into a logical storytelling order, and free you to hone and polish. And if you Pants like me, sometimes all that free-flowing storytelling needs to be stitched together logically. A template gives you structure to tell the story with all the sections needed to make it engaging to your readers.

Here’s how I did it.

Make sure you have backups of your Work in Progress just in case.

If you’ve created a new Scrivener fiction document and chose a genre template, it will open up brand new and ready for writing.

adding template

If you already have a work in progress and want to import it into the new template, it will take a little time and patience, but will be well worth your effort. After creating the new document and giving it a brand new unique name, back it up. Next, you’ll want to import your previous work in.

Under FILE, you’ll scroll down to IMPORT, then choose SCRIVENER PROJECT…  Select the Scrivener file you want to import into the new template. Once it’s imported, it will be in a folder marked “Imported Project”, probably beneath your Trash Icon. Open the Imported Project folder to make sure you’ve imported the correct project, then SAVE.


See the bottom folder that says “Imported Project”? Mine had 122 items in it. Yours could have much, much more, or less, according to the size of your WIP.



If your new project file is in Bulletin Board, the Imported Project folder should look similar to the picture above.

Right away you can prune out things you don’t need. Here’s where you save yourself a lot of grief. Your Characters are already there, as are your Manuscript Pages, just waiting to be dragged into the corresponding sections of your Binder. Some research may need to recouped, so DO NOT overwrite your original Scrivener project until all your data has been checked. SAVE the old file just in case.

Now save and backup before you start dividing up your new template driven project.

If you spot an error, please let me know, or have suggestions. Unlike my husband and eldest son, I’m no IT expert and am just sharing what I’ve learned.

Jami Gold’s wonderful template that I used can be found here: Jami Gold’s Romance Writers New Scrivener Template