I’m using a quick exercise (thank you Michael Hauge) to check on my story conflict because an editor I trust told me that I’m writing a “bigger book” than a romance, but she wasn’t sure the conflict would hold up. I have a history of weak conflict. It’s a skill I am actively working to improve. Here’s what you do:
Write down the goal of your protagonist. Skip a line and write down the goal of your antagonist. Next to each goal, write down the conflict, the reason why the goal cannot be achieved. If your antagonist’s actions are blocking the protagonist’s goal, and your protagonist’s actions block antagonists goal, you’ve got a good solid conflict lock.
Conflicts need to get bigger as the story moves forward. But that’s another Michael Hauge discussion here. There are lots of screenwriting techniques, but they work equally well with any kind of story, including a novel.