If ‘this’…then ‘that’.
When I’m writing or even creating a new idea for a new story in my head...that’s always a part of the process. Always. Not only from beginning to end, but involving the characters that exist within the plot and the world that I ultimately built, just for them. There is just something that gives the story a very personal level of depth for me, and it’s become a permanent style when it comes to my writing in general. Everything has a cause and an effect in life, depending on how you feel about it...and those effects can vary according to who you are, and not just the circumstances that are surrounding you. That makes all the difference, you know? And it has been both the light and the darkness of everything that I’ve written so far.
I definitely take pride in that. Both through the good times and the bad.
But there’s a certain dichotomy that naturally add to all of my stories that just exists as a sort of empathetic view into what’s really going on there in my story overall. (Keep an eye out for my article on the empathetic gateway...coming soon!) With all of the content that I put out there, there is a contrast between my main protagonist and the people or situations that he is forced to deal with in order to navigate his way around certain obstacles to find the love that he is longing for. In “A Class By Himself”, for example, the main character is trying so hard to fit in with the other rich kids at his school, and getting knocked down, time and time again. But his love interest, Tanner, is actually much more excited about the life that our protagonist lives in, and would much rather be a part of that instead. In the story, “On The Outside”, our protagonist learns the value of living in a world where his love interest is out of the closet, and begins to wonder what it would be like to live life with that level of honesty and freedom, teasing and bullying be damned. There’s a comparison and a contrast to everything that I do, because it’s a natural part of who I am. Someone who’s straight versus someone who’s gay, someone who’s rich versus someone who’s poor, someone unfathomably beautiful versus who thinks of themselves as just being plain and ‘normal’. There are always parallels in what I write, and I just love being able to explore the whole idea with my fiction the way that I do.
Writing with parallels just means having the ability to see most situations from two different points of view, which often times ends up appealing to a wider audience and even inspiring discussions between them on what they think about the events happening and what’s going on and why they think that way. These conversations show that people are really thinking about the things that you’re writing about, and they are truly invested in one side or the other.
Now, naturally, we’re not dealing in a black and white, good and evil, type of world anymore. Everyone has agendas and motivations and self guided journeys towards what they want out of life...and being able to place the main theme of your story between those two extremes and allowing it to grow and thrive that grey area is a very intriguing and engaging place to be. You know? This is what keeps your readers awake, and forces them to chose sides...each side with it’s own set of rewards and consequences. I’ve always thought that these were the building blocks of a truly amazing story, because it personalizes the struggle within it, and makes your readers a part of it.
Without giving out any spoilers, just in case...I think Marvel’s “Civil War” is an excellent example of writers using this idea to their advantage, and truly sticking the landing at the end of it all. You’re being given an in depth look at both sides of the conflict, and how it is totally in line with both characters and personalities on either side of that wall...and then you have this truly violent, but understandable, clash between them. PERFECTLY done! If you haven’t seen it...you might have to go on a long journey through all of the Marvel movies in order so you can get the full effect. Sorry. Hehehe! But if you HAVE seen it, then you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about, and will hopefully agree.
These are still ‘movies’, sure...and they’re different from what I grew up with...but I’m sure you can read my stories and immediately see why I always credit comic books with teaching me story and character and how to write if you watch that movie as well as a number of others in the MCU!
But ‘parallels’ are the point here. An action with an equal and opposite reaction. A positive versus a negative. I really do believe that it makes for an amazing story, whether your readers actually realize them or not. How can I say this in a way that makes sense? Hehehe….
Hold on a sec...
Ok, you know the old cliché moment where you have the main villain and the main hero in the same room, sort of squaring off against one another...and the villain (Prepare for the overworked phrase) says, “We’re not so different, you and I!” Ok, that’s it. Right there. But don’t be so blatant and weird about it when you write it out! LOL! If you’re wondering whether or not people are sick of hearing it...th answer is yes! We’re tired of hearing it. But that doesn’t mean that you have to abandon the actual parallel between both of the characters. Just...try not to say it if you can get around it. And, hey...I understand...there’s not always a way to get around it! I get it. I mean, if the straightforward approach is what is going to work best for you as a writer and for your readers in that particular situation….then go for it. There’s no SHAME in it...just don’t use it as a lazy way out if you can help it, that’s all.
Like, in “Gone From Daylight” (I won’t give any spoilers if I can help it), it’s like my main character, Justin, has a truly dark and abusive past. On that put him on a path where he internalized it and allowed him to become suicidal in the process. That was a major part of his transformation into who he was bound to become later on in the series. His pain and suffering has become a permanent part of who he is. And then, later on...readers are introduced to ‘Rage’. And Rage is meant to be a direct parallel to who Justin is as one of his main antagonists. Rage is who Justin could have become if all of his anger and hatred, instead of taking it all upon himself and becoming suicidal...what if he lashed out instead? H is the equal and the opposite of my main character, but there are many ways to show that without having to have either side say it verbally. It’s just a matter of taking two pieces of a puzzle and creating a situation where they simply don’t fit anymore. This is the genius of the story parallel.
Imagine Batman...being the world’s greatest detective...being pitted against the Joker...who is simply insane and it’s nearly impossible to figure out what he wants, or if he wants anything at all! How could you find a more formidable villain than that for the main hero, who’s an expert at constantly trying to make sense out of what’s going on in someone’s head facing who acts with no rational motivations at all? Genius. But a perfect parallel, nonetheless. And I love it!
For every character that I create, for every event that I put into motion in my stories...there’s something there to counteract it or balance things out in a way that creates one of two things...sincere understanding…or shameless hypocrisy. Either way, it becomes an important issue that has to be discussed and dealt with in the story. In “New Kid In School”...you can’t be jealous of your boyfriend having a cute friend and occasionally flirting with him, when you’re guilty of doing the same. And worse. That can’t work out until the issue plays out in the story, and this creates secrets and intrigue for your readers to be even more involved in. Again, it’s the parallels that add a little bit of spice to your story, and keep people from both sides of the argument fully involved.
I wrote a story called “Save Or Sacrifice” (https://gayauthors.org/story/comicality/saveorsacrifice) after a painful experience of my own where two friends of mine...well, let’s just say, I was heartbroken from the whole situation, and I just couldn’t hold onto the hurt of it all anymore. It was tearing me up inside, and I just wanted to get rid of it. But I was trying my best to understand it all, and I wrote the whole miniseries as a story parallel. Where you got to see things from three different points of view, and could understand why these things happened the way they did. I mean, obviously, I didn’t know any of these things for sure, but I didn’t want to demonize anybody, and I tried not to let my current emotions overpower the story in a way that felt selfish of cruel. That’s not what any of that was about. I was just hurt. Deeply hurt. And allowing my feelings to see things from different perspectives and make sense out of it all...really helped me out in the end of it all. And once people read it all from beginning to end, the comments they left behind were really special to me. Like...they ‘got it’, you know? And that’s more than anything that I could have asked for. I cherish “Save Or Sacrifice” as one of my favorites, for that very reason.
Writing parallels into your story is developing to put two ideologies, two opposing feelings, or two contrasting situations, against one another and putting them at war with each other until one of them comes out on top….but still seeing the value and empathy on both sides of the equation. Having an understand of the other side, and incorporating that into your fiction. If this...then this. It’s not just the event itself, but how the characters you’ve created handle the event that creates the ‘split’. It’s easy to most people to figure out right from wrong, moral from immoral, good from evil, in their own heads...according to their upbringing and understanding of these concepts...
...But what will your audience think and feeling when they get a peek at the motivations and rewards to be had from the other side of the equation? Inner conflict creates tension and anxiety...and that keeps people reading. If this...then that. Keep that in mind. Make it a mantra. Cause and effect. What you gain, may be a loss for someone else...and vice versa.
I keep parallels in my stories because they end up being the most relatable parts of my fiction. People understand need, loss, temptation, envy...and the story can really thrive off of adding the antithesis of all of those things in the frame of another character or environmental obstacle. Something that you can dive into to provide insight and reason into the balancing out of the equation. If that makes sense, despite the weird way that I tried to explain it all...then awesome! You’re well on your way to having another literary weapon in your arsenal!
If not...ummmm...questions? I’ll try to answer them as best as I can. Promise!
Anyway, happy writing, you guys! I’ll seezya soon with more, but until then...just know that I love ya lots! And I’ll be seeing ya soon with more! ((Hugz))