World-Building: Building Character from Situation/Conflict


Last week we used the setting to build your characters. One key take-away was that each setting created a unique sense of character to inhabit it. Your setting often helps you set the genre you’ll be writing in and the world around it will form the characters. Today, we’ll address building your characters from Situation/Conflict.

Characters, Situations, and Conflict:

Characters built from situation and conflict are more likely to follow the theme or premise of your story. From outcasts to cookie-cutter and filler characters, there are those expected within each situation or conflict. This often crosses over into the realm of genre, but it also operates as its own entity. So let’s look at a character from a situation versus a character from conflict.

Situation Driven characters:

When you’re building a character from a situation, you’re more likely to teeter into the realm of setting. A situation crafted character often stems from a nature and nurture standpoint. For example, you have a single mother raising a young boy. Or you might have a character in a royal guard at the palace. The situation is the placement of your character within the story. As shown in the examples above, sometime this is the family situation or physical situation. Though there may be minor conflicts for the character, that’s nothing you need to worry about yet.

Developing the Situation Driven Character:

Where is your character within your world? What level of society?

Did your character grow up with parent (s), mentor (s), or alone?

Why are they in this situation? (You can refer to the above questions.)

Conflict Driven Characters:

Conflict, the love and hate of everyone. Some people spend their lives trying to avoid it, and others seek it out relentlessly. In the end, no one escapes it. Conflict is such a diverse aspect of real and fictional life that few are surprised when it arrives. Creating a character from conflict is working off of expectations. When you see a war, who do you expect to see? Soldiers, pilots, medical personnel, and other entities that make a war happen. But what about a suburbia horror story? Survival is the conflict here and there are different horrifying things to survive in the world. Who would run from zombies, a deadly virus, or a serial killer? And the great thing with conflict is that you can subvert it like you did your genre. Sometimes the unlikely cast into conflicts creates the most interesting stories.

Developing the Conflict Driven Character:

Who would readers expect/not expect to see in this conflict?

How does this conflict shape and redefine the character?

What is the justification for your character to be in this conflict?


Building characters from situation/conflict can be an easy way to start if you already have an idea for your story. If you have just the world, then I would work through setting, as discussed in an earlier post. If you have questions please post in the comment section, or send me a message. Check in next week for a close out of the world-building posts, for now. Thank you for reading. And as always, stay fresh, my nugs.

Previous: Building Character from Setting

2 thoughts on “World-Building: Building Character from Situation/Conflict

  1. Pingback: World-Building: Creating Characters from Setting – Myers Fiction

  2. Pingback: World-Building Closeout – Myers Fiction

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