Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Physical Exhaustion

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From Writers Helping Writers:

Conflict is very often the magic sauce for generating tension and turning a ho-hum story into one that rivets readers. As such, every scene should contain a struggle of some kind. Maybe it’s an internal tug-of-war having to do with difficult decisions, morals, or temptations. Or it possibly could come from an external source—other characters, unfortunate circumstances, or the force of nature itself.

It’s our hope that this thesaurus will help you come up with meaningful and fitting conflict options for your stories. Think about what your character wants and how best to block them, then choose a source of conflict that will ramp up the tension in each scene.


Category: Increased pressure and ticking clocks, failures and mistakes, duty and responsibilities, losing an advantage, no-win situations, miscellaneous challenges

The character’s body being pushed past it’s limits due to exertion
Being depleted due to poor nutrition or starvation
An illness that ravages the character’s strength
Forced wakefulness that takes a physical toll

. . . .

Resulting Emotions: anger, anguish, defeat, defiant, despair, desperation, determination, dread, emasculated, embarrassment, guilt, humiliation, inadequate, powerlessness, regret, resentment, resignation, self-loathing, self-pity, shame, tormented, unappreciated, uncertainty, vulnerability, worthlessness

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

1 thought on “Conflict Thesaurus Entry: Physical Exhaustion”

  1. Physical exhaustion is, unfortunately, something I know too well – and have gifted one of my characters, because that’s the ‘write what you know’ part of my current WIP. But it has to be handled carefully, because no one wants to read about a character who is always tired, and it destroys the few periods of agency the character can have.

    It increases the effort needed to get things done, sometimes to the heroic level – and must be paid for.

    And it is the basic underlying question: is such a person valuable – and what are the limits on that worth?

    A light touch does all those things.

    Sad to see a writers’ site misuse it’s vs. its.

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