What would a story be without a conflict? It would be boring. Perhaps that is why all stories worth telling have a problem. Most scholars agree that there are six basic types of conflicts in literature. I will define each of these. Then I will provide PowerPoint lessons and worksheets that reinforce these ideas. Use these resources to help your students master the concept of conflict in literature.
Person Versus Person
In this type of conflict, the central character clashes with another person. It doesn't always have to be a person. They could be animals for instance. I guess It's just easier to say person instead of entity.
Not all conflicts are between characters.
Jimmy and Eric compete for the same position on the baseball team.
Person Versus Self
When a story has a person vs. self conflict, the main character battles him or herself. He or she may lack confidence or ability. He or she may have to make a difficult choice. Or he or she may have to address a personal problem. The key here is that the battle occurs within the character, though it may involve and affect other characters.
Alexa caught her friend Jamie stealing from a classmate. Now Alexa must choose between keeping her friendship with Jamie and doing the right thing.
Person Versus Society
With this type of conflict, the main character challenges a law, tradition, or institution. The main character or characters may battle against the forces that represent these institutions.
Vanessa makes an art project protesting police brutality. Her art teacher loves the project and tries to feature it in the town art show, but the county commission rejects the project. Now Vanessa, her art teacher are going to fight for the freedom of expression.
Person Versus Nature
When a story has a person vs. nature conflict, the main character fights to endure or overcome forces of nature. He or she may struggle to survive harsh elements, navigate through a disaster, or meet his or her basic needs. Stories with this type of conflict may occur in the wilderness often, but they can occur in urban settings too.
Alex and Scott are out at sea on a small fishing boat when a large storm hits. After their boat flips over and sinks during the storm, Alex and Scott struggle to make it back to the shore. Just when they think that things can't get any worse, they see a shark fin circling them.
Person Versus Supernatural
In stories with this type of conflict, the main character resists forces that are not of this world. He or she may battle monsters or strange creatures. He or she may challenge beings with magical powers. Or he or she may encounter hostile aliens. The key to this conflict is that forces that are not of this world threaten the main character.
Tara and her friends accept a dare to sleepover in the old abandoned house on the hill. They acted brave at first, but when they started seeing ghosts they tried to run. Trapped in the haunted house, Tara and her friends struggle to escape with their lives.
Person Versus Technology
In a story with this type of conflict, the main character resists technological forces. He or she may battle rouge robots or hostile computers. Or he or she may just struggle to accept or use the technology of a changing world.
Bob is a salesman who never adapted to the new ways of doing business. Now he has a new boss who forces Bob to send text messages and emails. Bob struggles to use these technologies and fears that he will lose his job. But maybe some help from his youngest son will help Bob catch up to the pace of business today.
Worksheets and Lessons
These worksheets and PowerPoint lessons are great for reinforcing this information. Worksheet files are saved in RTF (for editing) and PDF (for printing) format. Feel free to modify or change the content on these worksheets for use in your classroom. They are also available as preview files and the answer keys are included in web format as well.
Types of Conflict Worksheet 1
Looking for worksheets about the 6 types of conflicts in storytelling? Check this out! In this conflict worksheets students read ten short story descriptions. Then they determine the protagonist, antagonist, and type of conflict in each. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9.
Types of Conflict Worksheet 2
Students need practice to master literary skills. This worksheet has ten more problems to reinforce students' knowledge of conflict types in literature. Students will identify the protagonist, antagonist, and conflict type in each problem. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9.
Types of Conflict Worksheet 3
Here are ten more problems covering conflict. This worksheet will help students master conflict types in literature. They read descriptions of stories and identify the protagonist and antagonist. Then they determine the type of conflict. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9.
Types of Conflict Worksheet 4
This is the fourth conflict worksheet in a series of four. These conflict worksheets will help students achieve mastery of this basic reading skill. Students will read the short plot descriptions, identify the main character and the opposing force, and determine the conflict type. Suggested reading level for this text: Grade 5-9.
Types of Conflict Lesson 1
Here is a PowerPoint slideshow covering the six types of conflicts in literature. The lesson covers definitions of the six types of conflicts, examples, and few helpful tips. This slide show has animated transitions and a five problem practice activity after the lesson.
Types of Conflict Lesson 2
Here is another PowerPoint slideshow covering the six types of conflicts in literature. It is pretty similar to the lesson one but contains different examples and practice problems. This is great if you are teaching an 8th grade class that you also saw in the 7th grade, for instance. It contains defintions, examples, and practice problems covering the six types of conflicts in literature.
Conflict Cars: Literary Conflict Video Game
Here's a fun and interesting way to review literary conflict. Students can choose from fifteen different cars, including a hot dog truck. Then they race on 20 different tracks. When they bump into an NPC car, they will have to answer a question about literary conflict correctly. If they get it wrong, they will get wrecked. Try it now!
Common Core State Standards
Conflict Anchor StandardR.3
- Analyze how and why individuals, events, and ideas develop and interact over the course of a text.
RL.K.3 - With prompting and support, identify characters, settings, and major events in a story.
RL.1.3 - Describe characters, settings, and major events in a story, using key details.
RL.2.3 - Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges.
RL.3.3 - Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.
RL.4.3 - Describe in depth a character, setting, or event in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., a character's thoughts, words, or actions).
RL.5.3 - Compare and contrast two or more characters, settings, or events in a story or drama, drawing on specific details in the text (e.g., how characters interact).
RL.6.3 - Describe how a particular story's or drama's plot unfolds in a series of episodes as well as how the characters respond or change as the plot moves toward a resolution.
RL.7.3 - Analyze how particular elements of a story or drama interact (e.g., how setting shapes the characters or plot).
RL.8.3 - Analyze how particular lines of dialogue or incidents in a story or drama propel the action, reveal aspects of a character, or provoke a decision.
RL.9-10.3 - Analyze how complex characters (e.g., those with multiple or conflicting motivations) develop over the course of a text, interact with other characters, and advance the plot or develop the theme.
RL.11-12.3 - Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).
Click to VIEW Grade Level Standards for R.3
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M/ February 20, 2022
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Akhil/ January 27, 2020
This website is really good. Thank you for making this and well done.
San Diego Homeschool mom/ January 26, 2020
Dear Mr. Morton,
thanks you so much for your resources. You make things so clear I am able to teach higher concepts to two boys and they understand it. They will be be ahead of the game when they get into middle and high school.I hope you keep writing your worksheets as you are very talented at making clear points so that even old moms can get it! I can’t believe I just found this- I’ve been homeschooling for 12 years and I wish I had this years ago. Thanks so much for being so giving..
San Diego Homeschooling mom
Joe/ August 15, 2019
How can I verify that the answers are correct?
shellie mcallister/ September 4, 2019
he provides an answer document for everything. look below the link for each assignment and you will see it
Kimberly Arnold/ March 28, 2019
I cannot express my gratefulness for this website and resource. I am an intervention specialist/special educator on her own special ed. island, and I have to present all core content regardless of the fact that ELA is my only specific area of focus. Whereas ELA is my first love, I feel like I skimp on planning because every other subject requires so much of my attention because I’m learning as a go along. This resource is saving lives, and I am so grateful for the quality.
Mr. Morton/ April 1, 2019
Thanks for using my site and taking the time to comment. It is inspirational. Thank you.
jennifer/ October 23, 2018
These are so helpful! I have a question though, how would you explain internal v.s. external conflicts ?
Mr. Morton/ October 24, 2018
Internal conflicts occur within a character. This may take the form of a difficult decision or complex emotions. External conflicts occur outside of a character. There are more forms of external conflicts, so I’m not going to attempt to list them all.
Thanks for visiting my site!
Evelyn/ March 30, 2017
Hello, I’m Evelyn :Thank you so much for this information and resources I am a grandmother who is raising my granddaughter and a lot of what they are teaching now is somewhat indepth of what I learned. This helps me teach her just what is needed. Again thank you!
Evelyn/ March 30, 2017
Hello I’m Evelyn and I want to “Thank You” for these resources. It is just what I needed to teach my granddaughter diverse levels and traits of reading and some of them I have forgotten. This has allowed me to gather sources that is much needed and useful! Again “Thank You!!!”
Mr. Morton/ March 30, 2017
You are so welcome. I’m sure that you are doing wonders for your granddaughter.
Sandie/ March 4, 2017
Thank you so much for these resources. You are a life saver!
kayen/ January 11, 2017
Melissa/ December 13, 2016
This website is amazing!!! I have a reading midterm tomorrow and it helped me to recap what i’ve learned.
Wendy/ November 17, 2016
You have great resources! Thank you for sharing your talents!
Maqsood Alam/ October 18, 2016
What is the need of conflict in Drama.
Mr. Morton/ March 30, 2017
A story without conflict is not much of a story.
Annette Goldstein/ May 9, 2016
This website has a elaborate and very detailed genre of concepts. I am using it on a daily basis. What a phanominal resource.
Mr. Morton/ May 18, 2016
Thank you so much for saying so.
Kevin/ March 27, 2016
To be honest, I love what you are doing but disagree with the last 3. I believe they would all fall under ‘Person vs Environment’. Great work though!
Kevin/ March 27, 2016
Just to elaborate. This involves the environment or context changing and becoming hostile towards the protagonist (and others).
Johnny Simpson/ February 26, 2016
I am using this amazing website on a daily bases, and I love it, but the only problem is that your website needs more problems.
Mr. Morton/ March 15, 2016
I’m working on it, but everything takes time.
David Vazquez/ December 2, 2015
I need some kind of test template.
Mr. Morton/ December 2, 2015
Here’s a test template that I’ve been using. I hope that it helps!
Promee Mahbub/ June 27, 2015
When you steal something it is a conflict because you are doing something wrong. Is this right or wrong
Mr. Morton/ June 29, 2015
It’s all about how the author develops it. For example: Character feels bad about him or herself and steals a fashionable pair of pants… maybe internal conflict? Character steals a controversial flag, gets caught, and faces a trial… person versus society? Character wants to injure another character, so he or she steals the other character’s important possession… person vs. person. An action alone is not a conflict. The conflict is more than a single action. The conflict is developed by the author in a way that is central to the story.
bamlaku/ November 15, 2014
how the character conflict with a technology?
Mr. Morton/ November 19, 2014
Like, maybe giant robots are trying to take over the Earth. Or, as a more mundane example, maybe Grandpa cannot figure out how to work his phone.