Some writers want to create a very different type of story, one without conflict. This can be a challenge as it is challenging to write a book like this. So can you have a story without conflict?
You can have a book without conflict, but you are more restricted to the type of writing you can write. For example, you can do a biography, a book covering a specific time in someone’s life, an analysis of people or events, a collection of essays or many others.
What is Conflict?
Conflict in a story is, in the simplest of terms, the struggle between two opposing forces. In an argument, both sides try to convince you that they are right and the other side is wrong. For example, one wants a dessert to be apple pie while the other wants cake.
OK, that is a very simplistic example, but you get the idea.
Conflict can be very obvious such as a good guy vs. a bad guy. Or it can be more subtle such as friendship vs. loyalty to your family or a more simple issue, such as a choice between going left, taking the shortcut via a dark street, or right the long way but with lots of light and people.
Conflict is commonly there in a story, even if we don’t recognize it at first glance.
The first thing you think about as conflict is probably the obvious one. Good vs. Bad, or in other words, a Hero and a Villain (Hero vs. Villain).
But what happens when you have two good guys arguing? Is that really conflict? Yes. It is a struggle or fight between two forces trying to achieve the same beneficial outcome, but they have conflicting plans to achieve it.
They don’t want to destroy each other, so they might as well be on the same side. They just happen to disagree about how to achieve their goal. So, can we have conflict without good and bad?
Yes! And in fact, this can be a fascinating kind of conflict.
Story conflict doesn’t have to be physical. It can be mental, emotional or spiritual. As long there is an obstacle that needs to be resolved, a story has some conflict.
Moral conflict would be if your main character needs to decide between doing wrong or right. There is also internal conflict when a character has the same desire but chooses differently because of some reason like pressure from friends or family or they don’t want to look bad in front of someone they admire.
So, Do You Need Conflict In a Story?
No, you do not need to have conflict in a story for it to be interesting. There can be a story, and it can still be interesting, but the conflict is generally in a story to create some sort of tension for your audience.
If there is no tension, then why should anyone care about what is going on?
It would just be like watching someone on T.V. or reading a book with nothing happening.
For most types of writing, when writing a story or creating a plot, it is essential to know that for there to be a story, there has to be some type of conflict.
No conflict can work depending on the type of story, but it is likely to be uninteresting to most readers.
Some Writing Types Without Conflict.
Some types of stories that do not have conflict are :
The Slice of Life: A story about a person just living their life, such as a book about your own experiences. This doesn’t mean that there can’t be anything interesting happening in the book, but it is unlikely that you can tell a story without any conflict or tension. Generally, fact-based but not a biography per se.
Escapism: A book in the escapism genre is a book that wants to take you away from your problems and just want you to relax. It could be an adventure story like a book about someone who travels to a faraway land with no conflict or tension, but the main character isn’t really in danger. This is similar to the slice of life but is fictional.
A Biography: Telling the story of someone’s life and experiences. Very possible for this to have little or no conflict depending on the person being covered.
A Discussion: A book written like a chat between two or more people. Some writers have done this type by writing letters to each other that later become a long conversational discussion in book form.
A Book of Facts: A book that is just a bunch of facts. For example, a book on building creative writing skills does not have conflict, just education how-to information.
An Analysis: A book that does an analysis of some event that happened in the past. This would not have much conflict or tension since it gives information and an opinion about something.
A Book of Essays: someone who is expressing their opinions about things. There may not be any direct conflict in essays, but there will likely be responding essays that conflict in opinion. This type counts as the conflict is outside your writing.
An Instruction Manual: A book to teach people how to do something or tell them about a process. Because it is not trying to hold your attention with interesting events, there is no reason for tension so conflict can be nonexistent as it is an informative text.
Why is Conflict Important in Fiction?
Without conflict, your characters are just going through their day with no problems whatsoever. Nothing is challenging, no obstacles to overcome, and it just seems pointless for them to be doing anything.
The whole point of a story in fiction is that there has to be conflict or tension; whether the character does well or does poorly, resolving the conflict still makes your audience want to keep reading.
So while yes, you can have a story without conflict, it is a far more complex type of story to craft into something engaging.
Most stories need some form of conflict to be interesting to the audience.
Ways to keep a story without conflict interesting
First, you need to have real character growth that means something in the end. Without this, there isn’t really anything for the reader to care about – meaning that they will get bored with nothing that keeps them reading.
Second, you need to have good pacing. This is how you tell the story – it means that nothing should be too rushed or boring so that your reader gets bored or confused.
The third and final is to have a good variety of scenes. This means that you should not spend too much time on one type of scene.
It is important to note that all three of these points are vital in some stories and less so in others.
So if you want to write a fiction book, you can write without conflict, but it will generally be a more limited type of book you will produce. It is very difficult to write any traditional kind of fiction without at least some level of conflict as this is key element that drives the story.
Did you write a book without conflict? Let us know about the challenges you had to overcome in the comments below.