This week’s video demonstrates, using the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan, how to power pack your story’s finale by combining external and internal conflict.
The more conflict we pile into our stories, the more interested our readers will be. A general rule of thumb states that every page of your story should contain conflict. But, sometimes, it can be difficult to think up enough conflict to fill the nooks and crannies. After all, your hero can’t be battling it out with the villain on every single page. So what to do? The secret found within most successful stories is the combination of the external conflict with the hero’s internal conflict. Doing so offers several benefits, including variation of the conflict within your story, heightened stakes, and, often, and a more enduring resolution.
The most powerful stories are usually those that bring the external and internal conflicts to a climax at the same time. The 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan did a marvelous job of this. The physical conflict comes to an exciting, swashbuckling apex when the titular character arrives to save Wendy and the Lost Boys and duel it out with Captain Hook for good and all. In itself, the external conflict offers the viewer all kinds of enjoyable tension and its incumbent payoff. But if the movie had stopped at that—if it had failed to bring Pan’s internal conflict into play as well—it would ultimately have fallen flat.
Because the film used the frame of physical conflict to force Pan to face his inner demons, walk with them to the brink of destruction, and then rise up to conquer both them and, as a result, Captain Hook and the pirates as well, it was able to use both elements of conflict to strengthen each other and to present the viewer with a solid and resonant finale. The external conflict was able to give the internal conflict an exciting and dangerous setting, while the internal conflict was able to give the external conflict a deeper meaning. Working hand in hand, they present an unstoppable force of storytelling.