Conflict Confusion

Question: I've had this idea in my head for a while now and have been making notes in a little journal I've been toting around, but I'm not entirely sure if it would end up being a strong enough story?? I mean, the 'conflict' doesn't seem to really be there, like it would be in an action-adventure story or anything else, really.


"A group of 4 reluctantly band together in order to achieve their own goals. Will they turn on one another or form an unbreakable bond as they travel through thick and thin?"

I guess I'm asking for advice/feedback.
Any would be appreciated, since I don't really have anyone else to turn to in order to help me.

Answer: Actually, this sounds very much like it could be the premise of an action-adventure story. It depends whether those individual goals are action goals or decision goals.

If I'm reading you correctly, your dilemma concerns that fact that the four characters are primarily pursuing separate goals. Yet, there obviously is something that binds them together. Most likely they come to see that working together will make it easier for them to accomplish their individual goals.

It is normal for characters to have individual goals and agendas, but to nonetheless be involved in or affected by the Story Goal, which is the concern or effort that unites them. The Story Goal is also the goal the protagonist will be concerned with (externally). The main character, whether or not this is the protagonist, will also be concerned with his or her personal growth and internal conflict.

If you don't envision a big external, action-type goal, it may be that your Story Goal is an attitude that must be overcome within the group or a psychological change. For instance, in order to work as a team, perhaps they have to give up some of their old habits, or learn new habits, train new skills, give up resentments, have a realization about themselves, discover a new way of working together, etc. Your protagonist could be the person who rallies them in this effort. Your impact character could be the person who sees this as a waste of time.

What you would have then is a story more about relationships, character, and deliberation than action. But such stories have just as much potential to be emotionally gripping.

Best of luck.

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