Opposites Attract

We said it last week, but it bears repeating:

Story = Conflict

You’ll find a wealth of story ideas anywhere you find conflict, and conflict is inherent in situations where opposites meet…even if the “opposite” is the character himself. (This sort of transformation is called a character arc, and it’s another ingredient of a great story.)

Let’s look at a few examples:

Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass – Alice tumbles down a rabbit hole or steps through a mirror to enter a world that’s opposite to hers in every way.

The Prince and the Pauper – A prince hungry for adventure and a normal life makes friends with a streetwise urchin, and they cook up a plan to switch places “just for a while.”

Cinderella – A prince falls in love with a servant girl. This theme has been borrowed and reinterpreted countless times, and each retelling is as heartwarming as the first!

Wizard of Oz – A cowardly lion, a silly scarecrow, an addlepated tinman, and a Kansas farm girl in search of adventure are called upon to be brave, wise, clever, and bold–just the opposite of what they are!

Star Wars – Orphaned and bored, Luke Skywalker is called from his mundane farm life to fight for freedom and rescue a princess who turns out to be his twin sister.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – A kindly doctor drinks a potion and becomes a murderous monster.

Twilight – A human girl, a vampire, and a werewolf–who would normally be fierce enemies–are caught in a teenage love triangle. (No matter how you feel about the story, you gotta admit the conflict was one of the big draws for fans.)

Harry Potter – An abused orphan becomes the favored apprentice of the greatest wizard who ever lived.

Indiana Jones – A mild-mannered college professor lives a double life as a fearless adventurer in search of lost treasures.

Any way you work it, opposites attract an audience!


  • Brainstorm possible action story ideas by generating settings or situations that are natural opposites, OR
  • Brainstorm characters (hero and heroine, hero and villain OR hero and sidekick) who are opposites, OR
  • Brainstorm a single character whose actions in the story require him to be the opposite of his normal life or natural personality.
About Lynn Dean

Lynn Dean dictated her first story before she could write and continued to write stories, illustrate them, and bind them into books throughout childhood. As a homeschooling mom, she enjoyed passing a love for writing to her own children and ten years of co-op students.

Read more about Lynn.

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