We all love a story with some good ol’ conflict. I mean, seriously. Who doesn’t adore fabulous, mind-blowing, soul-crushing, eyeball-popping CONFLICT? Books feed on the conflicted souls of the innocent…okay, okay. But it is true.
With this thought in our frabjous heads, we decided to do a discussion. It has been a while. So, the Notebook Sisters present…
1. Numbers don’t win a battle (apparently).
MIME: Underdogs. Everybody likes an underdog.
CAIT: Except President Snow. I believe he’s opposed to them.
MIME: There is that. Anyway, think of the huge amount of underdog battles in fiction. I mean. Lord of the Rings. Avatar. Why does the smallest side, or the one with less technology and weapons, always win? It’s illogical.
MIME: Keep it together, nerd. My point still stands. Why does everyone love the tension created by underdogs in the climax? I mean, we know they’re going to win. Somehow, someway, they’ll win.
CAIT: Are you suggesting evil should triumph, Mime? Shame on you. Go sit in your Vulcan cone of shame.
MIME: I can’t feel shame. I’ve Vulcan, remember?
CAIT: Okay! Pro time! Making the underdog win provides: a) good tension, b) makes the main characters think their way out of their predicaments, c) shorter battle scenes (nice for writers) and d) opportunities for good weeping sessions. From readers, that is. The fact that it’s not realistic means nothing.
MIME: Why shorter battle scenes?
CAIT: Less characters to kill off.
MIME: Fair enough.
2. And BOOM, Real Power gets their magazine.
MIME: Power-shifts for the good are super fun. Spiderman gets bitten by a radioactive spider, Cinder gets extra awesome powers, and Meggie learns how to read characters out of books. When the good side suddenly gets a major asset that shifts the bagel away from being a classic story of an underdog who wins, that’s when the power has shifted for the good.
CAIT: Power-shifts for good can be good. But they can also be for the greater bad of good. It’s very frustrating when things get easy for the main characters.
MIME: That’s true. The best tension always comes when the main character is stressing their brain out.
CAIT: Power-shifts for the good of bad, however, are awesome.
MIME: Like, when Jean Grey in X-Men 3 became the most powerful mutant of all… I totally didn’t see that coming. And then that plot twist with what she did… and I totally thought Professor X was the most powerful mutant, but he wasn’t, and—
CAIT: Spoilers, darling. We must be consistent…within reason. Or without. I’m flexible.
MIME: When the badie gets extra power, the tension goes up. Especially when it really destroys everything the hero’s been planning. The audience never sees it coming. The only problem is —
CAIT: Oh! Me! Pick me to answer!
MIME: Quiet in the back row. The hero’s back to being an underdog.
CAIT: Moral of the story: give the badie lots of breaks. Give the hero lots of trials. In order to shock the audience, the writer must be on the villain’s side. I, as a writer, obviously have no problem with this.
MIME: That’s for sure.
3. The Little Leader Who Did Nothing Helpful. At All.
MIME: Fallible leaders are so frustrating.
CAIT: They add great conflict! We like to root for our indestructible leaders and then…BOOM…they have no memory of this place. How did that even happen, Gandalf? For the love of fish, you’re a a wizard.
MIME: According to Bilbo, he wasn’t… really a great wizard. You know. More like Radagast.
CAIT: Be nice, we have fans of Tolkien’s mushrooms in the audience.
MIME: But it’s true. The leader couldn’t always help. I’d have thought he could cast some long-distance spells to help Frodo in The Return of the King, but no. Or I’d hope he could summon some eagles BEFORE everyone was toasting marshmallows in Mount Doom, you know?
CAIT: Conflict always blossoms when the leaders you thought you could trust take a dive.
4. Good Person Does Bad Thing for the Greater Good of Good-Bad
MIME: The protagonist breaks the mould. They do something bad. They crush everyone’s souls in one moment of (possibly selfish) action, and suddenly, all the “good” people are shocked. Horrified. And the reader isn’t sure whether to applaud the character’s deed or hate them for it.
CAIT: I’m confused. And I do not wish to be.
MIME: I’ll explain. I’ll use small words so you’ll be sure to understand.
CAIT: Thank you.
MIME: You’re welcome. Have you ever noticed that the ‘ultimate’ goal of the story (usually involving the antagonist) isn’t always the character’s personal goal? Like Rise of the Guardians. The ultimate goal was to defeat the Boogie Man, but Jack Frost himself wanted to find out who he was before he became a frost giant like Loki. So sometimes, in order for the protagonist to fulfil their personal goal, they have to turn their back on their ultimate goal for a small time. And then this results in horrible misunderstandings between all the people who’s lives are dedicated to fighting the villain.
CAIT: So, in other words: misunderstands are awesome. They screw everyone up. Happily Ever After. Amen.
5. Don’t leave me here aloooooone!
MIME: Few things are quite as stressful as being forgotten in the shopping centre.
CAIT: Ah, Mime. This is a blog post, not a childhood-trauma-therapy-session.
MIME: You put the GIF there. But anyway. More traumatic than being forgotten in a shopping centre is being forgotten in a deadly literary situation… knowing that you’re the sidekick, so the author has no qualms about using you as collateral damage.
CAIT: Chances of survival are dwindling to single digits.
CAIT: High tension. Tragedy. Many tears on the reader’s part. Who likes to leave the cute sugar flavoured kid behind? Now you, Mime. Cons?
MIME: Uh, we don’t like having that character die. Also, if they volunteer to be left behind for whatever reason (like Mags in Catching Fire or the villain in National Treasure 2) they instantly become more heroic, which can be a con if you’re not supposed to like them. It’s also quite cliche. Though, tears are good.
CAIT: That GIF is killing me.
MIME: I promised myself I wouldn’t cry…who’s got a tissue?
|Mime is Jim. Cait is Morph. The end.|
mime and cait are currently plotting an espionage titled: find chocolate and eat it all. this will be a delicate operation. whilst in plotting process, cait is crying about the Venellope GIF. (even if it’s just a hypothetical GIF and Venellope didn’t actually get sucked up like that. but still. feels, okay?) in other news, mime is (still) reading reboot and cait has just finished the bane.