It can be defined as anything getting between the protagonist and their goal. The easiest example is the antagonist. The measure of tension is based on the determination between the antagonist and protagonist. The more cunning, and skillful the antagonist the harder the hero must work to succeed.
One thing to keep in mind is the main antagonist of the story doesn’t have to been in ever scene. In some cases, other things get in the way of the hero’s success.
In a scene the antagonist can be anything from the setting to a ally.
Some examples a protagonist may face are:
- Any character determined to stop them
- Settings: a flood, blizzard, unfamiliar location, imprisonment, stuck on the road with motor trouble
- A group of characters: law makers, rule enforcers, and simple peer pressure
- Consequence from an event: broken bone or other physical damage, loss of memory, loss of transportation, loss of support and/or trust, loss of safety net
Throughout the story there will be all kinds of things to challenge the hero and their success. What’s your favorite?