Every story needs clash, whether it’s a grand battle of good vs. evil or the more nuanced everyday confrontations when opposing forces collide.
The best stories, in my opinion, blur the line between good and evil. The bad guy is so relatable that you care for them against your better judgement, and the good guy occasionally makes you dislike them. How can a writer accomplish this, and write convincing clash?
First of all, start with two people who are fundamentally different from each other. (Whenever two people are different enough, clash arises.) Pair natural enemies. Think of the classics:
Rebel vs. Dictator—Luke and Vader.
“Criminal” vs. Policeman—Jean Valjean and Javert.
Order vs. Chaos—Batman and the Joker.
But also think about real-life natural enemies, where it’s harder to tell who’s the good guy.
Environmentalist vs. Third-world Poacher.
Fundamentalist vs. Liberal.
Partier vs. Studier.
Starting with ingredients like these—two opposing forces that can’t coexist until someone changes—is a great way to generate an entertaining and meaningful story.