Now we’re getting into more straightforward aspects of dialogue: intentions, goals, and perspective/opinion.
Stories are driven by conflict, and dialogue is no different. When writing a piece of dialogue, recognize what conflicts exist, and what their underlying cause(s) are. For example, here are 4 common source of conflict in dialogue:
1. Different plots engage the same question/issue.
One of the most prevalent issues in the Harry Potter series is the issue of prejudice. Audiences first encounter it through the Dursleys and their treatment of Harry. Because of Harry’s magical parentage, the Dursleys malign and mistreat Harry. Ironically Harry’s other main antagonists, Voldemort and his followers also begrudge Harry because of his heritage, but in their case they feel that he is “not magical enough”, since he is born of a muggle born wizard (his mother).
1. One conflict/resolution leads to another.
In Harry Potter, particularly books 1 & 2, the overarching conflict is unraveling a mystery, (What is hidden in the castle? Who opened the Chamber?). Within this larger conflict, the characters engage and complete numerous smaller steps, some planned, while others are unexpected. As they progress, each resolution leads to the next step in the plot.
A conflict can be rooted in the main plot, it can be rooted in a relationship between characters, or it can be both. Here are a few strategies for creating a new conflict in a scene.