At times, my life is full of conflict. I struggle to be the best mom possible when two of my kids are exactly like me, that is, a bit strong willed and determined.
My life would be so much easier if I was one of those moms who had patience and love bubbling over like a fountain in some romantic foreign city when their son spills the grape juice from his Flavor Ice onto the newish couch when he knows he’s not supposed to eat in there and it’s now a permanent stain.
Or when that same son yells out early in the morning on a Saturday that he broke the faucet, and everyone is sleeping in or trying to on the one day of the week they can.
Let me tell you, instant conflict.
Does your character offer the most conflict for the situation? That question comes up in SAVE THE CAT. In other words, the main character should be the worst person for the job, because for obvious reasons, there is instant conflict. And a lot of times, adds humor.
Here are some examples from books and movies:
Romancing the Stone: Novelist with no real adventure experience goes off on a crazy adventure with the man of her dreams.
The Girl of Fire and Thorns: Extremely overweight princess with a major carb addiction is born with the Godstone, which means she is meant for greatness.
Harry Potter: Boy with absolutely no wizarding power or experience needs to take down the most evil wizard ever.
Anna and the French Kiss: Anna is sent to a boarding in school in Paris but would much rather be at home in her safe world.
I’d Tell You I love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You: Cammie Morgan falls in love with a boy in town, except she’s been trained to be a spy and knowing 40 languages doesn’t prepare her for her first major crush.
Just think how different these stories would be if the character had been “perfect” for the story.
This is just one method of introducing conflict to a story and starting the emotional arc. I’ve looked and there are plenty of high concept and low concept books that don’t use this method and they are still extremely successful.
Have you ever thought about crafting your character to be the worst possible one for the role? And is there anyway to lift a grape juice stain from a couch? Just askin’.