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30.10.2015 13:39    Comments: 0    Categories: Fiction Writing      Tags: conflict  characters  master storyteller  melanie ann phillips  
Many writers have been taught that there must be conflict between characters. In fact, conflict is only one of the kinds of relationships that exist in real life. So if you've been stuck on conflicting relationships, you have actually been limiting your characters.

There are, in fact, three basic kinds of relationships, and each kind has a positive and negative spin available.

1.The Conflicting relationship.

This is the old standard.Two people are at odds and do battle with each other, physically, emotionally, or both.That is the negative variety of conflict.But there is a positive variation available as well.Sometimes, when two people conflict, it sparks a synthesis of their ideas that would never have occurred if they hadn't butted heads.

For example, there is an old television commercial for Rees' Peanut Butter Cups (made of peanut butter filled chocolate) where one person carrying a chocolate bar trips and stumbles into another person who is carrying a jar of peanut butter.The bar gets stuck in the butter and the two conflict with accusations, "You got chocolate in my peanut butter!" and "You got peanut butter on my chocolate!"But then, each tastes the blended result and both of their expressions light up!Through conflict, they have discovered a far better synthesis.

2.The Symbiotic Relationship

This is a relationship whereby one character has an impact on another, not through intention, but as a byproduct of its actions.And again, there is a positive and negative variety.

For example, in Africa there is a bird that sits on the rhino, picking it clean of parasites.The bird does it to eat, but the byproduct is positive for the hippo.On the other hand, the parasite eats the hippo.It is not out to get the hippo in direct conflict, but just to grab a meal.But the byproduct is negative for the beast.

When a father works at a lumber yard, it is not directly to entertain his son, but when he is able to bring home balsa wood scraps that his boy can build into models, it is a positive by product for him.

3.The Dependent Relationship

We all have dependencies.Some are positive and some are negative.Positive dependent relationships are similar to that of "Master/Blaster" in "Mad Max - Beyond Thunderdome."In this movie, the Master/Blaster character is actually two people - a genius but powerless dwarf and a brainless but powerful hulk.The dwarf (Master) sits on the shoulders of the hulk (Blaster) and directs his actions.Together they are more than the sum of their parts.

A negative dependent relationship is when two people are adequate together, but neither is sufficient alone.So, an alcoholic husband and a wife with low self-esteem work as a relationship since he keeps her around and she tolerates his habit.But it is a negative relationship as they cling to each other just to get back to neutral at best.

In short, "I'm okay, you're okay, and together we're great!" is a positive dependency, while "I'm nothing without you," is a negative one.

Become a Master Storyteller:

For a story you have written or are planning to write, list the relationships that exist among your characters and classify each as Conflicting, Symbiotic, or Dependent.If all, or even most, of the relationships are Conflicting, you may want to try altering some of them to include the other two kinds.

Excerpted from Master Storyteller

 
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