What it’s not?
Conflict gets mistaken for bantering, and arguing–basically two rams slamming into each other.
The result makes your reader very uncomfortable. Getting so frustrated, they stop reading. Once they are gone, it is unlikely you’ll get them back.
What it is?
Conflict is building tension. It grows because the reader has the inside scoop. The tension is not on the page so much as in the reader themselves.
Hmmm, say your reader knows that the main character aka MC has an allergy to cats, so she hates them. Let’s also say she runs over one just outside her home. Doing the right thing she rushes it to the vet. It dies anyway.
MC’s roommate aka RM loves cats and has a rescued cat hidden in her room. She has been trying to get the nerve up, and ask MC if she can keep her new fluffy friend. But before RM has a chance the cat gets outside. RM looks everywhere but her new best friend is gone.
Both are upset for their own reasons and when they talk about their days MC realizes it’s the same cat.
Here you as the writer have to make choices:
RM asks MC to help find the cat.and MC says what?
RM asks MC if she can keep the cat once it’s found and MC says what?
Does MC play along or confess? Does RM lose it?
As long as the conflict is possible, reasonable, logical; it can be bumped up as much as you want.
Why we need it?
We can’t get enough of it.
It is why we read; and watch plays, movies, and television.
Safely curled up, we feel alive.
Did I miss anything you’d like to add? Feel free to comment. I love to read your thoughts on conflict.