by Gary Fearon, Creative Director, Southern Writers Magazine
Conflict makes any story a story, and the most obvious conflict is the one between the protagonist and his obstacle. But an easy and easily overlooked source of conflict is contrast, which is often found in the hero's own best friend.
A partnership of young and old can provide rich contrast. In the pairing of Back to the Future's Marty McFly and Doc Brown, we get not just an age difference but the combination of the high-schooler who needs help and the absent-minded professor who knows just enough to get them both in trouble. In the end, the youngster's cleverness and the elder's experience combine to save the day.
You don't have to look far to find conflict in a romance, where the mere pairing of male and female creates an unspoken battle of the sexes. Has there ever been a Disney romance where the heroes didn't start off on a bad foot?
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If you're Sherlock Holmes, it's helpful to have a Dr Watson to throw enigmatic observations to. The befuddled companion who comes along for the ride readily allows for exposition that comes naturally as the two converse from their own perspectives.
In a nutshell, conflict isn't just found in the great quest or in a lover's spat. A partnership with two unlikely companions offers an undercurrent of contrast that creates a little friendly tension.