Story Fundamentals: A Help Thread for Writers


In order to tell a story and tell it well, it’s important for a writer to know the conventions, the do’s and don’t’s.

This thread will help with that — I’ll be giving you guys writing help / advice by explaining narrative conventions and how to implement them. People are free to comment and generate discussions, ask questions or advice, even disagree with me and explain why.

I’ve been writing for almost ten years now, but I still don’t know everything there is to know about storywriting. Still, I hope my knowledge comes in handy for people!


If there is enough interest, I’ll do my best to update this thread often!


A source of inspiration for this was @fcukforcookies’s Tips, tricks, & discussions thread! I had been interested in creating a help thread before, but it really helped me with formatting and other areas. I definitely recommend checking out fcukforcookies’s thread if you haven’t already!


Definitely bookmarked in case I need some help :wink:

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Conflict is an important part of the story. Typically, it’s what the readers came for, what convinced them to click on your story in the first place.

So, what is conflict? If you’ve developed your story well, it’s at the heart of the plot. The conflict develops as the story does, and it’s resolved when the story has come to an end. If you were to remove conflict from your story, there would be no story to tell.

Your protagonist, or main character, should be struggling against something. That something could be external or internal, physical or mental. This conflict is what helps form the plot of your story.

There are six types of story conflict. You might remember them from English or creative writing class, but I thought it wouldn’t hurt to brush you guys up on them.

Read through these — you’ll find that your story fits in one of them. Or even multiple!


This is the most common type of story conflict in writing.

The protagonist, or main character, opposes the antagonist. This can be physical — they want to harm, even kill one another — or maybe mental, moral — they have different, clashing world views. Either way, they are enemies. This rivalry drives the story’s plot.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • Harry Potter series. Harry must defeat the Dark Lord, Voldemort, in order to save the wizarding and muggle worlds
  • The Hunger Games. Katniss must fight and kill other kids in an arena, as a means of survival
  • Sherlock Holmes series. Consulting detective Sherlock Holmes must find the culprit behind a crime, usually one involving murder

The protagonist must combat society, whether this is societal norms / expectations, cultural traditions, or the societal system as a whole. This conflict rarely appears in Episode stories, but I thought I should cover all the bases regardless.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • Animal Farm. Animals on a farm rebel against the human farmers and decide to govern themselves, only to be faced with new problems
  • The Handmaid’s Tale. Offred is a handmaid, struggling to live in a fictional future America where women have no rights
  • To Kill a Mockingbird. Scout, a young girl, learns about societal racism once her hometown is embroiled in a court case where a black man is accused of raping a white woman

This conflict is different from the others, which deal with external issues. Person vs. self has to do with internal conflict. The protagonist has a flaw that they must overcome, or are struggling with some aspect of themselves.

Sometimes the internal conflict manifests in an external conflict. This makes the story more interesting. An instance of this would be a story in which the protagonist struggles with their self-worth while in a toxic or abusive relationship. This kind of story incorporates person vs. person and person vs. self.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • Macbeth. The titular character Macbeth and his wife kill the king so Macbeth can become the next king; however, he finds himself struggling with guilt over his actions
  • The Bell Jar. As Esther worries about her future after school, she begins the slow descent into depression; over the course of the novel, she learns to overcome her mental illness

The protagonist must deal with a hostile element of nature, whether that is an animal or a storm. Think survival stories. A group of characters are stranded on an island, or facing an animal out for their blood.

Sometimes nature stands in for a deeper conflict or meaning. For instance, in Lord of the Flies, a group of school boys crash-land on an island. You’ve likely studied this novel in class before, so I won’t bore you with the details. The boys try to recreate a civilized society, only to regress into animalistic behaviour. The author uses the person vs. nature conflict to examine society and the nature of men, specifically upper class white men.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • The Walking Dead. A virus spreads quickly across the world, turning those affected by it into zombies; various characters must fight to survive
  • Moby-Dick. A sea captain is obsessed with a white whale that attacked him in the past
  • Jaws. A shark is terrorizing a tourist town’s beach and its inhabitants

The protagonist is set up against some kind of supernatural creature or element. Omens, ghosts, vampires, werewolves — you name it, there’s a story out there about it. Ghost stories and many Creepypastas have a person vs. supernatural conflict.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • Frankenstein. Dr. Frankenstein, a scientist, creates a sentient monster from various human body parts; shunned and hated, the monster wants revenge for his tortured existence
  • The Turn of the Screw. A governess is convinced the estate she works at is haunted by ghosts, who are fixated on the two children in her care

You know the drill by now. The protagonist must combat technology, or some form of it. This is a common conflict in science fiction. The concept of artificial intelligence comes up often.

Examples of stories featuring this story conflict:

  • I, Robot. Humanoid robots built to serve humanity gain sentience and begin killing humans; main character Spooner attempts to uncover the conspiracy
  • The Terminator. A cyborg assassin travels back in time to kill Sarah Connor, whose future son will be important in a war against humans and machines

If you’re still here, congrats on making it this far! We’re almost at the end.

So, we’ve looked at the six types of story conflicts. By now, you should’ve realized which one (or more!) your story falls under. If you haven’t, your story might need more developing or tweaking. Feel free to reply below for some help / advice!

What if my story has multiple conflicts? That’s totally okay! But there should be one main conflict that’s driving the story, otherwise your plot might become too convoluted or nonsensical. The other, smaller conflicts should take a backseat to the main conflict — and they should tie into it somehow.

Some of you might now be wondering: alright, I got all that. But what does conflict do, exactly?

Conflict builds tension and suspense. It keeps your readers coming back for more. If your story is focused on romance, then there must be internal and/or external conflicts keeping your main characters apart. Which is why you keep writing — as you update your story, the conflict is established, developed, and then resolved.

That’s the end goal: the conflict must be resolved.

Sometimes the conflict is resolved with a happily ever after. In a romance, your characters might overcome what’s keeping them apart and become a couple, or even get married. Other times, the ending is bittersweet. The characters realize they aren’t compatible — they have different values, or want completely opposing things out of the relationship. They go their separate ways, hoping the other person is happy or even resenting them.

Regardless of the ending, the readers should get some kind of closure. They could be sad, even upset. But most should realize that, looking back, the story had built up to this. Because the conflict is resolved in some way, your readers are ultimately satisfied.

How to develop and resolve the conflict — in other words, plot development — is another topic for another time, though!


  • Conflict is at the heart of your story’s plot — it’s what makes your story a story and interesting to read
  • There are six types of story conflicts: person vs. person / person vs. society / person vs. self / person vs. nature / person vs. supernatural / person vs. technology
  • A story can have multiple conflicts, but there should be one main conflict driving the story
  • The conflict must be resolved by the end of the story, but resolved doesn’t always mean happily ever after

Nice first post. I only briefly commented on the story conflict, so this is a nicely done and helpful information :slight_smile:


this is awesome! BOOKMARKING!

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Thank you! :smiley:

Yeah, I didn’t want to just repeat what you’ve already covered — I want to tackle other topics, more focused on storywriting. So I’m glad you approve, haha!

Also, a general question to everyone: What do you want to see? If you want me to cover something specific about storywriting, please let me know! Check out the upcoming topics listed in the first post, maybe there’s a topic there you’re interested in!

Otherwise I’ll stick to my list and pick something from there to discuss. :slight_smile:


Actually ur topic inspired me to write about one topic, so I’ll try to finish it today :slight_smile: I was thinking it could complement yours :smiley:

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Oh, that sounds really interesting! I’ll definitely have to keep an eye out for it :smiley:

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I was originally going to make my second post on here about plot structure, but recently I’ve been seeing a lot of threads in which people ask others for plots they can make into Episode stories. There’s nothing wrong with this, but I feel that people don’t understand the hard work that goes into crafting a story.

You have to plan out the plot, beat by beat, before coming up with characters and relationships that suit that plot. You need to pay attention to detail, to character development, to the message you wish to convey, to tone and mood… Basically, storywriting is difficult. As hell. But when you tell a good story, a story you’re proud of, a story you want to tell… storywriting is also rewarding.

So, where am I going with this, and how does it tie into helping you come up with a good horror/thriller plot idea? The first thing you need to realize is that your plot should be interesting to you. It’s good to have reads, and loyal readers, and recognition, but it doesn’t mean anything if you could care less about what you’re writing. Your story should be near and dear to your heart.

It’s harder to get writer’s block when you enjoy what you’re putting on the page.

Now, finally, let’s move onto the horror/thriller genre. It’s one that’s been around for decades now. Why is that? Why are people obsessed with horror and thriller? What do they get out of creating haunting, suspenseful stories?

The point I’m trying to get at is that horror/thriller exists because it reveals and discusses what we as a society fear. More often than not, the monster in the story is what collectively frightens us the most.

Confused? Let’s look at two examples of horror/thriller stories.


In the novel Dracula, the titular character Dracula is obsessed with Mina Harker and wants to make her his bride. Mina is horrified… yet strangely drawn to him.

Many believe that Dracula, and vampire fiction as a whole at the time, was meant to dissuade sexual expression. Stoker wrote Dracula during the Victorian Era, when men and especially women were sexually repressed. Which is why Stoker’s vampires are so sexual — Victorian society both feared and were drawn to open sexuality, which is why human characters like Jonathan and Mina Harker are terrified yet equally attracted to the vampires they come across.

I mean, just read this excerpt from the book!

I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating. There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck, she actually licked her lips like an animal…I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.

Now consider how popular vampire fiction has gotten all of a sudden — are the vampires in stories like Twilight feared and considered monsters, or attractive and sexy? Why do you think that is?


The movie Get Out follows an interracial couple, Chris and Rose. Chris is nervous to meet Rose’s parents for the first time. Not just because he’s meeting his girlfriend’s parents, but also because they don’t know he’s black. As the story unfolds, Chris learns the family’s sinister secret: they kidnap unsuspecting black people and surgically transfer the minds of wealthy white people into them.

Though it is fictional, there is social commentary woven into the story’s plot. Peele comments on the racism hiding behind middle-class white people who, on the surface, pretend to espouse liberal, accepting beliefs. Rose’s family voted for Obama, twice, and assure Chris that they are accepting of him… but it becomes painfully obvious that this is not true.

Peele has stated numerous times that he wrote Get Out in order to discuss his fear surrounding liberal, tolerant middle-class white people.

Note how completely different the societal fears are. As time goes on, society changes, and so does what we find frightening. Next time, when you’re watching movies like Halloween and The Babadook, think carefully about the story and what the writer is trying to tell you through subtlety and metaphors.

It took a lot of time and about 700 words, but we made it. We’re finally at what this whole post is really about.

So, you want to write a horror/thriller Episode story. But your mind is constantly drawing a blank. Keeping in mind what we talked about, consider these questions:

  • What scares you? Think deeper than needles and spiders — What frightens you to even think too much about? Why do you think that is?
  • Consider societal fears, personal fears, fears you aren’t able to explain to people well. What about it frightens you? Would it frighten other people?
  • What is the worst thing you can imagine happening to someone? To you?
  • A lot of people are afraid of the dark. What is it about the dark that frightens them, in your opinion?

Here’s another example if you’re coming up empty: author Helen Fitzergald thought the worst thing that could ever happen to someone is if their newborn baby went missing. From this fear, her novel The Cry was born.

Hopefully, one or more of these questions will get the ball rolling. Think hard about what really scares you, and why that is. Then try to base a story around it. Most likey, the plot you come up with will be able to keep you interested long enough to write something substantial. Something you want to write.

Sorry if there’s any errors in this, guys. I haven’t edited it yet. :rofl:


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