Winning the big game, surviving an illness or a scary car crash, working your way through grief… these are all common topics for personal essays. But in fiction, these kinds of actions are most meaningful when they happen as part of the background to a story that focuses on the inner life of the protagonist.
Good storytellers differentiate between a crisis (an emergency, such as a car crash or an illness) and conflict (a clash of wills, a difficult moral choice, or an internal mental struggle). Beginning authors often focus on the exciting crisis rather than the conflict that makes readers care about the characters enduring the crisis. –via Crisis vs. Conflict: Engaging a Reader with the Protagonist’s “Inner” Story