Uncovering Jesus' Free Grace message.
Conflict, quarrel, jealousy in the family home. Young couple, man and woman.

The Outline: Conflict & Resolution | Write:Talk

WRITE:TALK is a blog series about the craft of Christian writing.
Click here to see other posts in this series.

Chart It Out

Before beginning the manuscript of my next story I build a Tight Outline. This is an important step for me since it becomes my roadmap. Not that I can't veer off in new directions if the whim overtakes me. It's just that having the map gives comfort and direction, allowing my creative side to experiment within the boundaries of a plan.

If you're not sure about an outline, one of the best ways to learn how it works is to watch a good movie and chart the steps in terms of CONFLICT: RESOLUTION. I once charted Music and Lyrics, in terms of conflict/resolution, starring Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant as Sophie and Alex. After watching it, I started with what Sophie and Alex's problems were.

Chart A Story


SOPHIE'S PROBLEM: She had a relationship with her Professor and he belittled and used her to write a bestseller. So she doesn't want to believe in herself as a writer.

ALEX'S PROBLEM: A fellow band member left him and had great success. Alex's solo album was bad. He doesn't believe in himself. He wants to do small venues singing his past hit songs.

INCITING INCIDENT: A megastar hires him to do a new song but he can't write the lyrics without help.


Conflict: The first lyricist he tries quits.
Resolution: Sophie the plant lady is a natural lyricist, producing good phrases while she drowns his plants.

Conflict: Alex asks her to write for him. She says she can't and leaves.
Resolution: He sings that night, Sophie and her sister come and he gets an address and comes to her workplace.

Conflict: He begs her to help
Resolution: They go to a piano store and she does well.

Conflict: They start working and she moves his furniture to procrastinate and gets hungry.
Resolution: They get food and while out.....

Conflict: She sees a book in store of her Professor's work about her. (Sophie's Problem Revealed)
Resolution: Alex encourages her that she is good.

Conflict: Alex tells her to tell him off.
Resolution: They see the Professor at dinner

Conflict: She freezes and can't speak.
Resolution: He tries to tell him off for her and...

Conflict: Fight ensues, Professor pushes Alex's face into a plate of food.
Resolution: Sophie comforts him.

Conflict: Alex tells Sophie about his problem and the bad album that he created (Alex's Problem revealed)
Resolution: They comfort each other.

Conflict: At dinner with her sister, she warns Sophie not to get hurt.
Resolution: Sophie watches Alex playing games with her nephew, and falls for him.

Conflict: The song deadline is approaching.
Resolution: They make the song, get it to Megastar and she likes it.

Conflict: Star wants to change the song in a weird way, ruining a good song.
Resolution: Alex won't stand up to her. He doesn't feel worthy. He crumbles

Conflict: Sophie decides to tell Megastar at the party,
Resolution: Alex stops her, interrupting

Conflict: Megastar wants a 3rd verse - Big fight between Alex and Sophie because Sophie won't do the last verse.
Resolution: Sophie decides to move to Florida

Conflict: Alex goes to her work to apologize & make her finish the 3rd verse. She refuses.
Resolution: Alex at the studio is ready to apologize to Megastar, but finds that Sophie has sent her the 3rd verse already.

Conflict: Big Concert, Sophie doesn't want to go in
Resolution: Sister makes her go in.

Conflict: Sophie expecting her name to be mentioned before the new song, gets mad and starts to leave.
Resolution: Alex comes out and does a song he wrote just for her. She cries and turns to go to the stage and find him.

Conflict: Can't get backstage, at first
Resolution: Gets past guard and finds him, hugs, forgiveness, happiness

Conflict: He's late to sing his song on stage with Megastar
Resolution: He runs, and sings his duet successfully. Big hit! Both problems were solved.

Does that help?

Do you see the pattern of how problems are presented to the characters that must be resolved before the plot can jump to the next step? It is really about setting up a conflict or obstacle and then finding a resolution over and over until you solve the character's main problem. Thinking about that in your story will help propel the adventure along to its resolution.


Write a list of Conflict/Resolutions in a story.

"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another."

Proberbs 27:17


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Free Grace content right in your inbox!
question-circle linkedin facebook pinterest youtube rss twitter instagram facebook-blank rss-blank linkedin-blank pinterest youtube twitter instagram