Stakes and Conflict in Stories

  • Premium Member

    You can not have a story without conflict, but there are some conflicts or stakes that just ruin the story for the reader/viewer; These can be called Non-Stakes Stakes or Non-Conflict Conflicts. Even something that in any other story would be a good stake or conflict can be ruined by the story it is in, usually by past events in the story (like how every conflict in Fairy Tail ends). Even if say on a meta level we know the story has a future ahead of it, there can still be some amazing stakes and conflicts; the best being the types that the protagonist can lose or fail with one of the best examples I can think of is in the Dark Knight. The Joker in the Dark Knight could have won and still have a sequel, the people in the boats could have died, Two Faces Villainy could have been revealed to the public; The Conflict was not settled between a fist fight.

    I am just wondering what stakes or conflict you guys love and witch one you guys hated and why?

  • Premium Member

    As a slice-of-life fan, I like the "conflict" of "here's a new day; what do you want to do?" :P

    In all seriousness, the fact that "slice-of-life" is an established genre means that the whole idea of "a story needs conflict" can be twisted a little. I've heard criticisms of the slice-of-life genre over how it "lacks conflict" and I don't agree with such criticisms at all. It's not that slice-of-life stories lack conflict, but that conflict is usually much smaller in scale, usually going between various small "daily life" conflicts, or maybe a somewhat low-stakes overarching conflict (e.g. in K-ON, the girls wanting to perform as a band).

    In general I think I like conflicts that drive character and relationship development rather than plot. Low-stakes conflicts can work well in that regard. I also like slice-of-life conflicts because while the word "conflict" generally has a negative connotation indicating something that's making your life worse, slice-of-life stories show how these small "conflicts" are really not that bad and may even be what make life enjoyable.

  • Premium Member

    @stardf29 I too am a big fan of Slice of Life, and do not get me started on people who are like "Slice of life sucks cuz no Conflict!" Those people should learn what conflict is first, I mean they can just google it with ease. Conflict does not have to be the "Save the World," in fact, I hate those kinds the worst. Conflict can be as simple as wanting to be an average girl yet her immense power clashes with this goal. A conflict has two aspects, internal and external. The best conflict would be an external conflict that serves as a surrogate for an Internal conflict or that to deal with the external you deal with the Internal. The Monogatari series is the prime example of this masterful type of conflict.

  • In terms of conflicts you hate, I don't like it when you manufacture a conflict just for the sake of drama.
    It happens a lot in romance plots/sub-plots, for example
    MC: I'm going to choose side characters plan/method instead of love interests
    Later Love interest is either jealous or begins questioning how MC feels about them
    and now that is going to be the sub-plot/character motivation for this episode of love antics (added points if side character is actually another potential love interest)
    Or a none romantic example
    Side character: Why is MC acting so suspicious, instead of asking them about what they're doing I'm just going to secretly investigate/stalk them
    Or they ask and the character is just being vague for no reason

    But like with anything if it's written well enough (and/or for comedy) I'd still forgive it

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