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.