Friday, April 17, 2009

Adversaries, take 2. The nicer take.

"This isn't romance. This isn't a declaration of love or affirmation of friendship. This is something more." --Melina Marchetta, Jellicoe Road

It occurred to me after reading the couple of comments on the adversaries post that the same dynamic is important in non-opponent relationships, too. Finishing Jellicoe Road recently also underscored it, as I watched how Taylor and Griggs's opponentship and relationship unfolded.

The people who a protagonist spends time with, whether as friend, enemy, family, or love, have to be people worth that time for both the character and the reader. The king and queen of Attolia are one of literature's greatest couples because they challenge each other both as opponents and as lovers. Nick and Norah (of the Infinite Playlist) work because they challenge each other. Mildred and Jacob in Me and the Pumpkin Queen are such great friends because they understand, support, and complement one another. The same with Billy, Tommy, and Ernestine in Tracking Daddy Down. And Toot and Puddle. The most compelling relationships are the ones in which the characters are different, but equal.

Maybe this is the germ of a future conference talk, but I'd love to hear what others have to say.

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