Today we continue our plot series with rivalry.
Quote: What happens when an irresistible force meets an immovable object? No question captures the spirit of a plot better than this one. -Ronald B. Tobias, 20 Master Plots and how to build them.
We all know competitors in one form or another. We may be a competitor. Our society admires this trait especially in sports and politics. I must confess nothing turns me off more than a sibling or associate trying to prove they are better than me. I think a persons worth is defined by their moral standard, not just by their accomplishments or wealth. This however, is real life. The rivalry we are discussing today is in our stories.
What is rivalry?
A rival is a person who disputes the prominence or superiority of another. -Ronald B. Tobias, 20 Master Plots and how to build them.
Once again you have three acts. The first act is setting the scene. The protagonist and antagonist are nearly equals in abilities. They will have some quirks to make them unique. They know each other. Often they have competitive natures, but not always. Some famous rivalries include:
1. A man and animal: Moby Dick, by Herman Melville
2. God and Satan: Paradise Lost, by Milton.
3. Two men who are polar opposites: The Odd Couple.
4. A man and a woman in a classic love triangle: Jules and Jim by Francois Truffaut.
I could go on. I'm sure you can add some books or movies to the list.
No back story in the rivalry. The conflict should start in the opening scene. Remember, these two characters are rivals, competitors, challenging each other on a personal level. It's always a good idea to ask yourself when developing characters: "What's at stake?" What matters to these two characters? Does one want a clean house while the other wants to relax and watch football while drinking a beer? Does one want to prove they can shoot a gun with better precision than the other? Does one want the death of the other at any cost?
In act one; the antagonist gets the upper hand. Think Ben Hur and how he became a slave by a Roman who was his childhood friend. Act two; the protagonist is elevated once again so that these two characters are equal. The antagonist is aware of this, which brings added tension. Act three; they meet and one of them wins the day.
Some of you have noticed that many of these plots are included in books that seem to have different plots for the major story. That is true. I think the best books have strong, three dimensional characters along with plots that are woven together for the purpose of tension, action, goals, etc.
Once again, the book, 20 Master Plots and how to build them, by Ronald B. Tobias, is a much more in depth study of this plot. I strongly recommend that you invest in it. I know I have learned a lot just by reading the different plots for these Monday post.
(Just so you know Colorado State Law passed a taxation measure for online sales. Amazon doesn't allow anyone in Colorado to earn money with book promotions. Therefore, my recommendation of this book is not monetarily motivated).
Next week, the master plot is: Underdog.
Are you going to write a rivalry plot?