Characters and Conflict

Outtakes 189

Characters and Conflict

By Cait Collins


Setting up conflict in a story can be tricky. A writer who is not in tune with the various idiosyncrasies of his characters may have difficulty in creating the tension needed to craft plausible conflict. The story is not the incident; it’s in the characteristics of the people involved. Human resources and training department employ personality profiles to help determine the traits that each team member possesses. Knowing the personality types for a team enables managers to better assign tasks and manage a group.

For example, two co-workers have a difference of opinion regarding the best way to handle the upper management directive to set up a data base to track expenditures for the past ten years. The information pertains to the sales department, the tax department, and the advertising department. One of the people charged with the task is methodical; compiling the necessary information with attention to detail.

A second worker approaches the job in a helter skelter manner. There’s no organization or precision in the work. Errors are abundant. It’s impossible for the data to correlate with the more methodical worker’s.

A third person, the peace maker, tries to help out. Instead of getting involved with the project, the team member keeps looking for a “we are friends” moment. Everyone must get along he or she insists. By trying to force peace, the other co-workers become more stressed and less productive. The project stalls and management gets involved.

This is your assignment. Write the confrontation between the three co-workers and the managers.