Opposites Power – Yah!

 I know, it sounds obvious – the power of opposites –  but it really is worth breaking down the features of opposites to gain one of the most powerful writing tools you can have. Here’s three big reasons why I love opposites:The human condition is built with opposites. As in masculine and feminine, we know that opposites attract.

Opposites also make each other pop. The features of one are vibrantly clear when seen next to their opposite.

And finally, knowing what drives opposites allows writers to build each world and play with the tension between them.

The first time I really understood the importance of opposites was watching a hero story where the lead was impossibly good at everything. It was boring. Then I noticed how good writers put a coward next to a hero as seen in The Matrix. The action of the hero is so images-2much more exciting when we see another character in the same situation but unable to stand the pain.   This is using the opposites of shadow and light – good and evil. This pair of opposites is a matter of degree.   They both are striving to deal with fear but they are on opposite ends of the spectrum as far as hitting the mark.

There are also opposites in kind. Heroes are learning to push back against fear and extend the boundaries of their mortality. A hero finds something worth dying for and takes the risk to get the job of preserving it and protecting it done. The song Let Her Go by Passenger is on this theme of seeing the world in terms of what you don’t want.

Virgin characters awaken to what they love and pull it into their life. They find the courage to fully live. Putting this kind of opposite next to each other creates energy – which is very compelling.

ID-10085881The masculine Warrior King uses his life to make the feminine safe to walk the Earth. Feminine Lovers lead the masculine to their souls and their connection to Source (this is my archetypal version of a Cherokee proverb).

I think this touches on another key feature of creating the opposite dynamics. One is externally focused as in fighting off in-coming dangers – real physical problems. The other is internally focused and cares about connection to your authentic voice and levels of happiness. These characters are always asking “do I feel I belong here? Who do I really love? How do I say what I really feel?” And they create the space for others to do the same.

Image by imagery majestic at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

This brings us to another fundamental difference in opposite pairs. One believes in the importance of being objective and unemotional. It’s not personal, it’s business.  The other trusts their feelings and takes action based on their intuition.

The last fundamental opposites is in the way a person faces two alternatives.  Have you ever noticed how some people think in terms of either/or and some people default to “what if it is both!?” (which I call ‘and’ thinking). These are two fundamentally opposite ways of facing the world. Either/or is left brain and And is right brain thinking. Apparently we are all capable of both but we tend to default to one or the other.  You can use this fact to create characters that will spark with each other until they learn to see the value in what is opposite to their natural tendancy.

So here it is in a nut shell. The opposites share these root features:

LOVE                                      FEAR

Pulling in                                pushing back

Internally driven                   externally driven

Subjective                              objective

And  thinking                         either/or thinking


Whenever you want to build more energy between characters try putting these opposite qualities into situations or dialogue.

Happy Writing !


About Kim Hudson

KIM HUDSON Author of The Virgin’s Promise I grew up in the Yukon, as what I would describe as a Hero’s daughter with a Cinderella Complex. Basically life taught me many of the things I needed to know to write my first book, The Virgin's Promise. It is on a story structure for a character that needs to connect to who she really is, separate from what everyone else expects of her. It uses movie example and is equally applicable to any kind of story telling. I spent the first half of my career first as a field geologist and later as a federal land claims negotiator. It was the 80's and I was proving I could do whatever men could do. I also learned that I am fascinated with masculine/feminine dynamics. Exploring my feminine side became important to me as I raised my two daughters. This lead me to study Writing for Film and Television at Vancouver Film School, and take courses on mythology, feminism and psychology including a Jungian Odyssey in Switzerland. The theory of the Virgin's journey was developed by closely observing the archetypal expressions that are all around us in movies, music, television, advertisements and stories of personal growth, including my own. In my posts I want to introduce an archetypal structure that expands the work of Joseph Campbell on the Hero's journey to include a feminine archetype. I hope it will create stories about women and men who follow their spiritual, sexual or creative awakening, otherwise known as their feminine side. I’ve tried to use examples of male and female Virgins to show this. So go ahead and explore the ideas, tell me what movies you liked and what stories you think is also a Virgin pathway, or stories of your own personal Virgin journey.
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4 Responses to Opposites Power – Yah!

  1. Mary Hughes says:

    Hi, Kim,

    Love this post! Opposites work in so many ways and at so many levels. I like how you set them out in pairs. These opposites create tension at every level. Wonderful!

  2. Kim Hudson says:

    thanks Mary. I’m delighted to hear they speak to you, too.
    All the best,

  3. Edie Ramer says:

    Kim, this is great! I have this in my next book, but maybe a little in my current book. I’m going to look for places to deepen the differences in my wip. I think it will create more tension. Thanks!

  4. Awesome post as always, Kim! I love seeing juxtapositions and agree that they make things so much more interesting.

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