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Sept 13 — Odd Couples

There’s nothing that spices up a story quite like a dynamic relationship between characters. If your creations are too similar and want the same things, your story loses a lot of potential conflict and momentum. But if characters are opposites forced to work together, your story suddenly has the potential for fireworks.

The Prompt

Write about an odd couple. No, your characters don’t have to be an actual romantic couple. They can be siblings, classmates, friends, enemies, or anything in-between. But you do need to have a couple (two people), and they do need to be at odds. Their personalities and their motivations should be dramatically divergent. Try to exaggerate their differences and see what action transpires. 

Tips

  • Your story doesn’t have to focus heavily on conflict. It can just take a look at your characters’ relationship, and how their differences cause them to interact with each other.
  • If you do choose to go for conflict, it doesn’t have to be violent or angry. It can be a gentle disagreement between best friends, or the quiet break-up of a long marriage. There should, however, be enough conflict to make the story interesting.
  • What makes your characters different? Is it age? Wealth? Ability? Religion? Personality? Make sure to clearly define your characters’ differences and use them to shape your story’s plot, including motivation and resolution.
  • Do these characters hate each other? Love each other unconditionally? Are they ambivalent towards each other? Do they need each other? They shouldn’t be neutral. If their emotions are dynamic, their relationship will also be dynamic.
  • Does your couple have a fraught history?  Or maybe they’ve just met each other and already regret it. Think about the story of their past together. How did they get to this point?
  • How about a punk rock father and his conservative bookworm daughter? Or a pair of criminals that can never agree on how to execute their crimes? Or a husband who desperately wants a child pleading with his wife who doesn’t even want a goldfish?

Go challenge some reader expectations, really work those differences, and have fun!

If you used this prompt, please comment below with your stories and your thoughts. There are many more guest prompts to come.

15 thoughts on “Sept 13 — Odd Couples”

  1. I’m behind on posting and sharing my stories:

    * Day #12: The prompt was to write a 100-word story: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-12-oh-by-the-way-which-ones-pink. The password is 12.

    *Day 13: The prompt was to try to focus on two characters and offer a conflict that hinged on different things each person wanted: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-13-back-covers. The password is 13.

    * Day #14: This was my prompt (https://storyaday.org/sept-14-perspective). I used this photo to write about: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/b/b6/Syd_Barrett_Abbey_Road_1975.jpg. I didn’t really do what I had thought I might, but I guess I’ve been in a Pink Floyd mood for a few days, so I went with this: https://storiesbystolle.wordpress.com/2015/09/14/day-14-unrhymed-couplets. The password is 14.

    Something is missing from my work this month, and I think most of that relates to attitude. I’ll have to continue to work through that. I have to reinforce the idea that writing should be fun, not work.

    1. At some point, writing is also work, especially when you commit to doing it on someone else’s schedule (this time: mine!). The trick is to find out how to inject the fun into the regularly-scheduled programming. Not easy, but necessary. 😉

      1. For some reason, writing just isn’t fun anymore. I don’t have any goals, and my progress is stagnant or regressing. I’m not sure why I keep doing it.

        1. Maybe it’s time to submit to publications, find a critique group IRL, and/or self publish…

          If you can get to a writers’ group or conference that might help you feel you’re part of something bigger than yourself and your own writing.

          1. I just went to a potential writing group meeting on Wednesday night. They gave me some great feedback on my 2014 NaNo, although I only shared about 10 pages. I don’t think I have any story that feels ready to send to a magazine. Even the good ones still need work. I wish I could afford a writing conference. I need to find a job to be able to do that.

    1. I’m sorry, I don’t know why my prompt didn’t publish yesterday. I thought I had it done and ready to go a week ago… I was out all day, as well, so I only just noticed it isn’t up.

      Here’s the short version:
      Write a 100-word story.
      Need a start? Here: ‘The letter arrived without a stamp.’

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