Two weeks ago I introduced the idea of nine main fiction plot points. When you decide to write a novel, you’ll need to decide the main conflict for your character – who (or what) will come against your character to keep the story moving forward?
Today I want to start looking at the first of those fiction plots – Character vs. Character. This plot line is one of my favorites. Why? Because it’s the basis of almost every superhero movie! So what traits make up the Character vs. Character plot?
Two Diametrically Opposed Characters: These aren’t just two people who can’t agree on pizza. They aren’t even family members who never get along. The clashing characters in this novel plot fight for completely opposite things.
- Thor and Loki: Thor wants to give the nine realms freedom to live their own lives. Loki wants a throne so he can rule over someone (and he doesn’t care who).
- Spiderman and Green Goblin: Spidey fights to keep the city safe. The Green Goblin doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.
- Oliver and Barbara Rose*: This couple in The War of the Roses technically has the same motivation, but their motivations oppose each other – they both want the house in the divorce, and they will do whatever they can to make sure the other person doesn’t get it.
One Winner: There is no participation trophy here. One character wins, and one character loses. Thor captures Loki. Spiderman kills the Green Goblin. There can only be one. (*Technically The War of the Roses doesn’t fill this requirement as there isn’t one clear winner, but their fate helps other characters win.)
The character versus character plot doesn’t have to be a superhero movie though. This theme plays well in all genres. Political thriller? Two people running for the same office. One who wants to clean the toxic water the supply. The other does not. How about a romance? Two guys fighting for the same girl. Or a Western? Sheriff versus outlaw. As long as there are two characters butting heads, you can make this plot line work.
What’s your favorite Character vs. Character story?
Stop back again in two weeks to look at the Character vs. Himself theme!