on Jami Gold:
The Four Levels of Story Conflict
A cardinal sin of storytelling is to skimp on conflict, and no wonder. Those problems, challenges, obstacles, and inner struggles help keep readers engaged, casting doubt on the character’s ability to achieve their goal.
Because readers are focused on what’s happening from one scene to the next, it can appear that conflict is only occurring moment to moment. It’s actually present at different levels in the story, not just at the scene level. Understanding the levels of conflict and how various challenges will interact is key to building a rich, powerful story, so let’s dive in.