Dramatic conflict

RELATED TERMS: Agon; Agonism and avant-gardism; Focalisation; Actantial model - Greimas; Antagonist; Protagonist

The dramatic conflict is the persistent tension, the driving force, from which the content of the story is gestated and produced. According to Robert McKee (1999: 210): “Nothing moves forward in a story except through conflict.”

The dramatic conflict might be described as equivalent to the nub of the problem in design conventions or the striking opportunity the designer identifies from research.

Dramatic conflict can be seen as a struggle or contest, bringing into view an agonistic conception of narrative, in which protagonist and antagonist are engaged in a prolonged contestation. In Greimasian actantial terms, this is constituted through unfolding of the relationships among the subject, the helper and the opponent.


Austin, T. (2012). Culture-led city regeneration: design methodologies. In: Cumulus. Helsinki. Available from [Accessed 3 February 2014].

McKee, R. (1999) Story: substance, structure, style and the principles of screenwriting. London: Methuen