QUIZ YOURSELF ON “ITS” VS. “IT’S”!
Words nearby external conflict
What is an external conflict?
External conflict vs. internal conflict
You can’t have a story without some kind of conflict, because it’s what makes the characters take action and progress the story along. If there was no conflict, then every character would just stay the same.
External conflict is one kind of conflict within a story. Internal conflict is another one.
Internal conflict happens within the self. It’s the conflict of a person against their own mind: grappling with a difficult decision, trying to live in line with their morals, seeking the best path forward.
External conflict, by contrast, involves the struggle between a person (or a group) and a force that is outside. This can come in the form of “Person vs. Person” (interpersonal conflict) or “Person vs. Thing.”
“Person vs. Person” is your classic hero-and-villain narrative, where one person is fighting another. Usually, one is the protagonist, while the other is the antagonist (think Luke Skywalker vs. Darth Vader).
“Person vs. Society” is another form of external conflict. This is where one person fights against a whole corrupt society (think The Hunger Games).
The subset “Person vs. Thing” can get a little out there. One example, “Person vs. Nature” is where an individual struggles against a harsh climate, a storm, or some other natural disaster (think Robinson Crusoe). And “Person vs. Fate, God, or the Supernatural” (like the Odyssey or Poltergeist ) is on another realm completely. Horror and fantasy genres often use this mode, while science fiction might play with “Person vs. Machine” (think The Matrix or The Terminator).
What it comes down to is …
- internal conflict = you vs. you
- external conflict = you vs. anything else
What are real-life examples of external conflict?
External conflict gets used a lot when talking about literature. Writers and writing teachers may mention how to build stories by finding a good source of external conflict. Literary critics might describe the external conflict that drives a story as a redeeming (or terrible) aspect of that new crime thriller. Your book club might decide that the latest offering was a little lackluster in the external conflict between Becky and Karen.
Mrs Altimus’s 7th grade Honors English class is discussing foreshadowing and internal and external conflict in their reading passage this afternoon. #7thgraderocks #SquireStrong pic.twitter.com/hmGgSAHi2K
— Dr. Jon K. Lippe (@jonlippe) August 20, 2019
In the geopolitical sphere, it describes international tension or wars between countries (as opposed to the internal conflict happening between the people inside a country).
— The Hindu (@the_hindu) June 25, 2018
The Game of Thrones television series is full of “Person vs. Person” interpersonal conflict, as various characters struggle for the throne. The novel Fahrenheit 451 is another classic full of external conflict, specifically “Person vs. Society,” where the main character is locked in a struggle against the entire culture and government that surrounds him. Remember Jaws? It’s also a good example of “Person vs. Nature” external conflict. The characters fight something in the natural world around them.
You might also use external conflict to describe your own (or someone else’s) difficulties experienced in everyday life like car troubles (Person vs. Machine), tensions at work (Person vs. Person or Person vs. Company), political or religious disagreements (Person vs. Government or Person vs. God).
We're sad to announce that due to an external conflict @TheMilesMcKenna will be unable to join us for #SitC2019 this year. If you selected Miles in your ballot you will need to log in and update selections! We hope to see Miles at SitC again in the future!
— Social in the City ☀️ (@sitc) July 29, 2019
External conflict is everywhere around us. It may be that the real key to understanding external conflict is figuring out how to best avoid it. Good luck out there!
Example sentences from the Web for external conflict
In the middle of all of that past suffering and present-day conflict, this Cosby bomb was dropped.
Their claims have led to both academic controversy and localized conflict.
The two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is dead.
World War II is still a long way off, but the seeds of conflict are already being sown on the continent.
So here we are with Abbas being the only one of three parties to this conflict still fighting for a two-state solution.
He must trust to his human merits, and not miracles, for his Sonship is of no value in this conflict.Solomon and Solomonic Literature|Moncure Daniel Conway
The conflict in Tom's puzzled heart sharpened that evening into dreadful edges that cut him mercilessly whichever way he turned.
In her he felt again, more distinctly than before, another person—division, conflict.
The conflict of these certainties left hopeless disorder in every corner of his being.
She had expected personality, magnetism, as a compensation for nature's external economies.Ancestors|Gertrude Atherton