Review: The Conflict Thesaurus. Volume 2

I was recently given the privilege of being an Advance Copy Reviewer for Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi’s The Conflict Thesaurus Volume 2.

We’ve all been there. Facing the “and-then-what?” part of any story can be a daunting challenge. For example, we might have written a situation in which Character A is upset at Character B because Character B has both a bologna sandwich and a boyfriend, but then we struggle to put words to what that jealousy physically looks like from the outside looking in.

Another dilemma might be wondering how to describe what it feels like to be cheated out of a job opportunity. I don’t want to just say, “Bob was sad.” In addition, how do I later counteract this disheartening scene with some redeeming factors about Bob? (Poor Bob.)

Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have been my long time heroes in each of these scenarios and their latest installment in their collection of writing thesauruses (thesauri?) is no different.

The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles (Volume 2) begins with some helpful pointers on how to craft provocative and believable conflict that will help drive the rest of your story. One of my favourite parts of this section was examining what they call “The Four Levels of Conflict”. The obstacles and inner struggles identified in this part of the book are what keeps readers engaged! Not to mention, building these conflicts can help solve writer’s block by getting the ball rolling. As Ackerman and Puglisi describe, this conflict can lock in the wheels of your story’s roller coaster.

This section of the book alone made me want to immediately start applying its tips and tricks to my current work in progress. For example, the discussion on scene-level (or micro) conflict describes how setbacks and failure can be used to increase the pressure and bring your character to a point of self-discovery and internal growth. Although the protagonist in my current novel encounters multiple setbacks, I wasn’t sure if I was using these failures as an opportunity for her to examine what went wrong and raise the stakes in her goals.

Keep in mind, this segment on identifying the four levels of conflict is only seven pages out of the entire book.

Writers will also be treated to some advice on how to create powerful clashes with authentic villains, methods to amp up conflict, and how to create a climax that feels satisfying, but might not have the predictable outcomes that readers expect.

The bulk of The Conflict Thesaurus then goes into the various situations that writers might encounter in their novels. Some entries include: a break-in, being captured, and not achieving a coveted goal. These entries provide examples for how these situations might manifest, what some minor complications could be, and a list of some potentially disastrous results. On top of this, writers are given a list of internal struggles that could result because of this conflict, emotions, both negative and positive traits, and impacts on basic needs.

Remember Bob and his lost job opportunity? By applying some of the tips included in the “Not Achieving a Coveted Goal” entry, a writer can ensure that their readers’ hearts are completely broken for Bob and ready to delve into his redemption.

Volume 2 of The Conflict Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Obstacles, Adversaries, and Inner Struggles is a tool that I have no hesitation in calling indispensable. It’s a book that you can crack the cover and immediately start using in either creating a new story or working on a current one.

I honestly can’t say enough about how fantastic, wonderful, awesome, sensational, remarkable, and FABULOUS this book is. (Oops. Looks like I’m getting a bit too hooked on my thesaurus usage!)

Pick up a copy of this book on September 6th.

Find out more about The Conflict Thesaurus at WritersHelpingWriters

To see a list of topics covered in The Conflict Thesaurus, click here

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