My problem here is that I have two main characters, who, in the future, will end up dating. I’m trying to create friction between them at the beginning of my series so that they gradually fall in love. The best way that I see to do that is making them have arguments.

The only problem:

Arguments are out of Character for both characters.

They both are very selfless and kind hearted, but the flaws that they DO have don’t include quick tempers.

They both have tragic pasts where they let someone they love die, and they feel like it was their fault.

Thinking that the other character couldn’t possibly understand what they’re going through, they resist telling each other, even though the other character understands perfectly.

There is also and external conflict, but inner conflict makes it intriguing. The setting is a magical fairy tale Forest, except everything is trying to kill them, and they have no idea how they got there. All they are trying to do is go home, and they come from everyday life. The girl is seventeen, the guy is eighteen. And it’s not just them in the story. There are lots of other characters, but the guy is the first person the girl met in the Forest.

So my question: How would I beat create conflict with these characters?

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3 Answers 3


When GOALS are at odds with one another, it can lead to conflict.

One of the most classic ways of creating tension or arguments between characters is to give them motivations/goals that on the face of things seem to conflict with one another (even if they really don't, either because some plot twist that resolves the conflict hasn't occurred yet, or because one (or both) of them is misunderstanding what the other one's goal actually is, etc.)

I read a novel recently where the two leads are both loving, kind people who want to rescue orphans from danger, but at the beginning they get in a big fight and don't like one another for quite some time after. Why? He's a single guy who grew up an orphan and adopts kids who have been passed over by all the other families so they have somewhere to belong. She's a young lady who grew up an orphan but was adopted by a single guy who used the kids he "adopted" as slaves. Because of her background, she jumps to the conclusion that the guy is adopting kids for free forced labor on his ranch. He, not knowing her background, assumes she's a meddling girl who led a sheltered life and is too snooty to think he could be a decent guy and good parent to the kids given his disheveled appearance.

So this is an example where both the characters are really nice people, but a MISUNDERSTANDING creates conflict.

For a slightly more fantasy example, take two characters who both want the same magic artifact. They both want to use it for a good cause (maybe he wants to heal his little sister with it, who will die otherwise, and she wants to bring it back to her chief so he can use it to heal their ancestral lands, saving her tribe and making her a hero...) you have immediate tension here, because even if they are both nice with good intentions, their goals CONFLICT with one another, since only ONE of them can have the magic thingamabob, and they are now competing with one another for it.

Essentially, use your imagination. Figure out what would create conflict between these two characters given what you know of their separate goals, motivations, and backgrounds.


Everyone has arguments. They are just of a different kind.

Your characters are selfless, kindhearted and don't have quick tempers? That reminds me, in fact, of my mother. Was she the type of a person inclined to have arguments? Not at all. Did she have arguments with other people (and me in particular)? Absolutely!

Kind and selfless people wouldn't start argument by just insulting other people, but they can make an unwavering stand for what they believe is right. And what is right - that can be different for all people. Boromir from "Lord of the Rings" was, to a large extent, selfless and kindhearted - but that didn't save the Fellowship from a dangerous rift. In fact, even if your characters are squeaky clean, and literal saints, you can still make them clash - just show how they see the same situation differently. That can only make your book more interesting.


Everybody is flawed

Characters who are similar in worldview/behavior can still come in to conflict due to their own flaws.

For example confronting a person who hurt them (or a loved one) in a way that was traumatizing, this could be a triggering moment for one of the characters. In the movie Big Hero 6 for example there is a group of teens who work together rather harmoniously. But when one of them discovers that the antagonist is the one who killed his brother he loses it and gives his robotic companion the order to kill the villain. This was a (momentary) character break from the hero role the character has. But it is a believable character break due to the trigger present in the story.

For example Character A in your story, although a kind and compassionate person, does have a slight obsession to bring the one who hurt him/her to justice for that it has done. While character B believes forgiveness is the path that should be taken, maybe even fearing that taking vengeance might damage the soul of Person A.


Seeing you live in a magical world the antagonist might be able to use dark magic to make the characters hate each other (even temporarily) to the point they harm each other (mentally or physically) in an attempt to divide them. But even though the magic has been broken some damage has already been done making them subconsciously resent each other.

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