It comes as no surprise that I am a very big fan of binary opposition; I like to see them in quotes and fiction; you see them a lot in general life. The very first thing I was told about storytelling in primary school, which I can remember all so well – probably because this certain teacher actually helped me so much with my struggles at school. Anyway I was about eleven and she told us how a good story is made by this one sentence: “The bigger the obstacle the better the story.”
So naturally, binary oppositions work; I use them sometimes myself; well it’s a little more than sometimes – it’s a lot. Which leads me on to why I use them.
I use binary oppositions in my fiction because they have very simple yet potent conflict that is always springing up. The protagonist of my fantasy novel has the ability to control fire, and I have a character that can also control water; points for guessing if they get along? Mostly it gives the reader ‘friction in fiction’ with some kind of consistency to it.
A girl who is so nice it is unreal is going to clash with the ‘bitch’ of the town; but I can work really well with that; there is a lot to use right there for me with those two characters. Put them in the same room and I am intrigued; what will happen?
Another example could be a man who is so filthy rich that he doesn’t understand the value of money and eventually loses his sight of why he cares about people; he grew and inherited an empire from his parents, and is always well off because of it – but – he is so miserable; he finds no challenge or value because of this very thing that he has inherited. The result; he turns in to the kind of person people can’t help but hate.
Now let’s say another man of the same age works very hard for a living; he has a job, he has a house – which is very small and grubby, and also has very little things to call his own – but – he has a sense of value because of this; these two will also clash! You see it; the binary opposition, I mean?
Binary oppositions – I cannot live without them; they are incredibly amazing and useful, especially for me when writing fiction.
It just so happens that I am going to be blogging a short story here about the most recent example I have told you. Yes, there was a point in using that as an example. And it will begin this week. Keep in mind that this will be a one off thing and will technically be the first draft; it will probably be crap, but it may not be – you decide. It is an on the spot thing about an idea I have had floating around in my head for nearly a year now. it will be blogged over the next six weeks, give or take a week or two. Here it is:
It was on a day filled with the sun – that two very different people crossed paths; which turned out to spark many other meetings of coincidence in the future.
Now I know coincidence doesn’t usually exist in fiction, but in reality it happens; sometimes more than we like.
Normally Andrew, who was twenty five years of age, wouldn’t even think of going off his business schedule.
But today he felt a certain something inside pull him near the sea – on the same beach that he remembered his parents took him to every year until he was fifteen. He pictured them playing in the sea with him, but when it came to a little boy bumping in to him from behind, disturbing his imagination of the past days, he noticed it was another family that reminded him of what he thought was himself all those years ago.
Andrew stood on a path overlooking the beach and leaned on a beam that separated him from where he stood and where he looked. He smiled, a little a first, but them his face formed the most sincere smile he had given in such a long time.
“We compassionately relate to each other to share a light in each other’s darkness; we do not stand alone because we’re all interconnected. And we all have a certain something that can only be ignited by another person in our lives.” Andrew spoke those words quietly but imagined his father’s voice, like when he said them to him years ago. “There isn’t a day gone by when I don’t think about you dad.” He sighed then heard some seagulls and turned to look at them; they were fighting over something on the floor next to him.
A woman came closer to Andrew from his limousine about ten metres behind; she put her hand on his shoulder and he turned to look at her.
“He was a wonderful man. But there were some things that weren’t so wonderful about him towards the end you didn’t know about.”
“There was?” replied Andrew with some surprise.
“Yes. But it is not my job to say them,” said this woman.
“You’re right Chloe,” said Andrew with such a sudden change inside; the anger went deep and far within him suddenly; as anger does; it rubs off on people and travels, sometimes like a disease, ruining the day of more than just one or two people, but entire families. “It’s not your job; so you should shut up, get in the car and sort out the schedule for the rest of the week. You are more behind than I like; my last personal assistant was better than you, and she was sacked – now take a guess at what will come your way if you don’t do what I say, exactly when I say it.”
Chloe’s eyes now looked at the floor; she didn’t have the courage to talk to her boss when he got like this so she done as she was told. She saw a light shine from the darkness that was Andrew’s life for some very brief moments. But it passed; he was back to his old self again.
When Chloe got back in the limousine, Andrew looked back out to the sea one last time before getting in the back with her.
“Home,” said Andrew to the driver. The car started moving as the son of the dead father wound his window down a little so he could see outside without a black tint from the window – showing the real colours of the world; he done this all the time as he liked to know what he passed, what he missed, and what he hated.
The truth is that Andrew was never really going ‘home’; as it was just another word for the head building to what was his father’s business; but it was in fact much like a home to him now. Mostly because he spent all his time there. There was even days when he slept there; because he was too afraid to face the reality of his life, and buried his head in his work. All of his many past personal assistants learned this the hard way – by seeing it.
At the end of that work day Chloe went to her small one bedroomed flat which she called home; nothing at all like Andrew’s, which he never used anymore – he would check in to a hotel to be alone with his thoughts – only of work – only of business; but then again, today was a little different.
What was home as a boy was now more of a home to his maids and his butler than to him; although his mother still lived there too; however, visits to her became more and more rare with each passing month. He was cutting himself off day by day, night by night. Not just from his family – no – but from being what he was – a human being.
Author: J. R. R. Tolkien
The Genius In Us All
Author: David Shenk
Author: David H Burton
P. S. I am over 15,00 words in to my new story, which is still under wraps. I am also starting the third draft of my fantasy novel on the 22nd of this month (March). And I am trying to fit in as much drawing and art practice now too because I am going to illustrate my stuff from next year.
Also I am not publishing anymore, technically. But I have found an awesome website called lulu.com, which you can buy and make just a single copy of your writing in a hard back professional looking book. I would be more than pleased to just get all seven of my stories to that stage. One copy of each story for the one person who wrote it; me. That’s my goal from now on. And I have an exact image of how the first book cover should look.
Hope everyone is getting on well. Take care and plod on.