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No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a database or retrieval system, or translated into any language in any form by any means, without the prior written permission of the authors. Copyright 2013, Lora Innes and Chris Oatley. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. No part of this ebook may be copied or sold. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Introduction Chapter 1 Man Vs. Self: How to Create Heroes With Heart
Lora Innes

Chapter 2 Man Vs. Nature: Its More About Dying Than Surviving
Chris Oatley

Chapter 3 Man Vs. Society: Your Hero Will Change The World And The World Will Change Your Hero
Lora Innes

Chapter 4 Man Vs. Machine: The Storytellers Frontier


Chris Oatley

Chapter 5 Man Vs. Man: The Heros Mirror


Lora Innes

Afterword

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Introduction
This year for our anniversary my husband and I went to a beautiful Bed & Breakfast inspired by an Italian Villa. It was the perfect place to curl up with a cup of tea, a new graphic novel and read on an oversized couch. I had been so busy I hadnt read for enjoyment in a long, long time, so this was a special treat. Unfortunately, though I had picked up the book at the behest of favorable reviews, it left me wanting more. A lot more. The simple but consistent style gave the art polish. Relatable, likable characters kept me reading to the end. But I could not figure out what the story was about. Independent Comics Suffer From a Lack of Definition. The characters wandered from scene to scene without direction. The only connective thread was revealed near the end to not actually be the connective thread after all. And then the book ended abruptly without ever revealing what the connective thread actually was. Just what it wasnt. I wondered why the graphic novel had gotten such positive reviews. In an interview with the creator, I learned that the book was based on her own experiences growing up. Suddenly the problems with the story made sense. Art Mimics Life, But Life Isnt Art. Drawing from your own experiences is an ages-old method for writing, but real life doesnt have a clear theme the way that stories do. This is why memoirs dont recount every aspect of an authors life; they pick a topic (a theme) and explore that subject using only those experiences which illustrate the point. It takes a skilled writer to frame events with a logical start and conclusion. Not everyone is capable of telling their own story this way; sometimes we cant see the point of our own trials or were afraid of oversimplifying things in order to add structure.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

When this happens, the reader is left confused like I was. With no clear conflict for the heroine to overcome, events meandered until the book suddenly ended. And I dont mean it ended with an exciting, unresolved cliffhangerit felt unfinished. Conflict: The Surprising Solution. Conflict is the bread and butter of traditional comics, though independent comics have run as far away from it as they can. Like a teenager who gets a nose ring in order to assert her independence from her parents, we are desperate to prove that we are not with them! I understand why. Conflict is exaggerated in mainstream superhero stories to the point of being cartoonish. Im not talking about the style of art: I am talking about inflatedstakes stories with the end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it hanging in the balance. So independent comics have drifted toward slice-of-life stories over carefully crafted and clearly defined alternatives. Webcomics authors have added to the mess by telling scrawling epics written weekto-week. These stories start out headed in one direction, meander, miss the mark, change course or just fail to complete a thought. As much as we might be embarrassed by mainstream comics, independent comic creators could learn a thing or two from them. Just because we are telling a different kind of story does not mean we no longer need conflicts or conclusions. Stories Must Be About Something. Genre Doesnt Change The Rules. Two time Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough writes histories and biographies yet he thinks of his books as literature. Even non-fiction stories must have a point. In the wildly successful Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert does not present an hour by hour itinerary of her three months abroad. She writes an autobiographical essay about a theme, using relevant events and tossing out the rest. As such, it satisfies as a complete story with a point. Gilbert uses her memoir to ask the question: Can I grow beyond my selfishness and learn how to love? Whether she had succeeded or failed, it still would have been a story.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Smile, by Raina Telgemeier is a New York Bestselling graphic novel and memoir. Yes, her orthodontic experiences tap into a common plight, but the real conflict is even more universal than wearing braces: Can this young woman learn to be comfortable in her own skin? Write Your Reader Into Your Story. Conflict tells us where a story starts, what must happen, and when we will know it is over. In a nutshell: Conflict gives us plot. The unresolved action of will he? or will she? keeps a reader coming back: -Will Frodo destroy the ring? -Will Lizzie fall for Mr. Darcy? -Will Luke find his friends in time to rescue them? But at its core, conflict makes our story about something by providing an avenue for a protagonists self-discovery. This journey makes your story universal, a story a reader can connect with and not just enjoy, whether or not theyve been to Mordor, Netherfield or Dagobah. -Is he strong and pure enough to resist evil on his own? -Is she capable of an open-mind, or will prejudice keep her from love? -Is friendship worth sacrifice, even against the wisdom of mentors? If you allow surface conflicts to lead you to internal ones, your story will be about a protagonist but it will also be about your reader. This is the magic of telling stories. In this book Chris and I are going to discuss five conflict archetypes and show you how to use them to give YOUR story depth.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Chapter 1 Man Vs. Self: How to Create Heroes With Heart


by Lora Innes

The Dark Knight Rises made millions but poor Wonder Woman will probably never get her film or TV pilot made. There is a reason that Batman is the most popular superhero in the DC universe and it is the same reason that people cant get enough of Spider-Man, Ironman or Wolverine Often we creators have a hard time figuring out what to do with our protagonist after weve told the story of their first adventure. Maybe your readers just arent invested in your characters and your dwindling website stats prove it. or maybe youre halfway through an arc before you realize you dont know how to end it. Batman and Spider-Man have been around for over half a century and people still arent bored. They both have heart. And if you can get your head around the Man Vs. Self conflict, you can create characters with just as much depth
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Man Vs. SOMETHING:


We all remember learning about different conflict types in our high school literature class. The official number varies, but the conflict types can be generalized as: Man vs. Nature, Man vs. Man and Man vs. Self. Examine your story: What is the source of conflict? The word story implies that there is an ending. We have talked about this on the podcast How to Write Comics that Engage Your Audience!as well as on last weeks!Interview with Brian McDonald. If you cant define your conflict, you have no way of knowing when your story is over. As creatives, we love webcomics because they lend themselves to experimentation. Unfortunately, as a result, theyre often directionless. Clear conflict creates direction. Character A must do B in order to prevent/ ensure that C does/does not happen. Think of the stories that you follow. Can you clearly state the conflict? Chances are, the stronger the story, the more easily you will be able to do so. Perhaps no genre of storytelling presents conflict as clearly as mainstream comics: Hero vs. Villain; The Fate of the World in Peril; Zombie Apocalypse is Nigh. The monthly issue format mandates that a conflict is presented in 22 pages. Webcomics could learn a thing or two from this constraint. Batman has to face the Joker. Ironman will take on the terrorists single-handedly. And even Scott Pilgrim knows that he must be the one to defeat Ramonas evil exes. Once all Seven Evil Exes are defeated, the story is over. Or is it?
WINGER COMMENT: I think another important thing to keep in mind is to keep both sides of the internal conflict balanced. So essentially when the character comes to make that choice at the end of the story A is just as bad/ good a choice as B. So when the character chooses it actually shows their growth or lack of. Darth Vaders choice at the end of Return of the Jedi is a great example. Choosing between saving his son but betraying his master or being loyal to his master but letting his son die. If this choice were not both equally as painful to choose between it would not show Darth Vaders change, as it would seem he took the easy choice. -Leigh Fieldhouse

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Man Vs. Self Is King:


All great stories, no matter what the external conflict is also have an underlining Man vs. Self conflict. Though other conflicts in the story may be more obvious, the Man vs. Self conflict is the most engaging. Will Iron Man save the world? is the exciting, marketable conflict. But Will Tony choose to put aside his self-serving ego? is the deeper, more compelling conflict that makes Tony Stark a character who is infinitely revisit-able. Tony Stark Saves the world... and himself in the process. Iron Man might defeat the terrorists and save the world from a nuclear war, but he hasnt really won until he stops drinking and decides to put others before himself. Great stories use external conflicts like Man vs. Nature or Man. vs. Man to bring about, expose or mirror the inner Man vs. Self conflict.

When Man Vs. Everything BUT Himself:


If your hero only exists in your story to complete a series of events and arrive at a predetermined outcome (or perhaps even that has yet to be worked out), once you end your arc you wont know what to do next. Do you simply to come up with another repeat adventure, this time with extra twists and turns? a more exotic location? a sexier love interest? Do you need to kill off more characters this time just to ensure it will be bigger and better than the first and prove the stakes are higher? When those things happen in stories that youve seen, you get bored, right?! or mad? Dont do that to your readers.! Dig deeper. When a Man vs. Self conflict is missing from your story, you get sequels that pale next to the original (although this time with bigger explosions!). You finish watching these
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

films or reading these stories, disappointed that even though they turned the volume up to 11, they lack heart. Heart in this case is another way of saying a compelling Man vs. Self conflict.

James Bond vs. Jason Bourne:


James Bond is good at everything he does. There is no scrape he cannot get out of, no woman he cannot seduce, no villain he cant outthink. Bond, James Bond makes for a fun, escapist protagonist because we want to be him confident, brilliant, victorious and uncomplicated. On paper, Jason Bourne is a character with the same skill set as Bond. And yet when his is a very different story. Why? Because Bourne is a man against himself. In him we see good and bad. He has done heinous things and yet he has the chance at a clean slate. Except he cannot escape his past. We all have regrets whose consequences haunt us, dont we? Sure, they might not be chasing us through the streets in an attempt to assassinate us, but the themes addressed in Bournes journey ring true. We may want to be Bond, but we see ourselves in Bourne. Which is the more compelling tale? Defeating his Man vs. Self battle first enables Scott to defeat the evil exes. Yes, Scott Pilgrim has to defeat Ramonas evil exes. But more importantly, he needs to stop being a slacker and learn how to treat a girl with respect. He doesnt get there right away, but by Volume 6, our boy is all grown up and when he sets out on his own we have a hunch that this time he wont screw it up.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Great stories and relatable, unforgettable characters dont happen by accident. ! So dont devote all of your time to developing the tiniest intricacies of a confusing plot or four decades of villains backstory and forget that the hook for your readers, whether they know it or not, will be having an honest and relatable Man vs. Self conflict for your protagonist. In good storytelling, heart is essential, but the explosions are optional.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Chapter 2 Man Vs. Nature: Its More About Dying Than Surviving
by Chris Oatley

The Man Vs. Nature conflict is not just about surviving in the wilderness like Tom Hanks in Cast Away, James Franco in 127 Hours or one of my personal favorites: Robert Redford in Jeremiah Johnson. Nature, for the purposes of designing conflict and plot, can mean the natural AND the supernatural. In fact, Nature is any kind of unstoppable force that is both primal and pervasive. The Zombies in The Walking Dead, the Xenomorph swarms in in Aliens, the spooks & specters in Ghostbusters, the sinking Titanic and the miles of freezing ocean surrounding it, that sneaky shark in Jaws, the Captain Trips super-flu in The Stand, the world outside of Andys room in the Toy Story movies, the dinosaurs of Jurassic Park, Sauron in The Lord Of The Rings all primal, pervasive, unstoppable forces. Frame your Man Vs. Self story in a Man Vs. Nature plot and youve got yourself an epic. until you have to end it.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Internal Conflict Vs. External Conflict:


In the last chapter, Lora talked about how EVERY good story contains some kind of Man Vs. Self conflict. She established that the Man Vs. Self conflict compels the most interesting heroes. But if Man Vs. Self is the core of every good story, then what about the other forms of conflict?

Man Man Man Man

Vs. Vs. Vs. Vs.

Nature Machine Society Man

Heres why we will never run out of stories to tell. (Let me re-phrase that: Here is why we should never run out of stories to tell) Just like with food, there are only a few categories to choose from but there are an infinite number of potential recipes & combinations. The other conflict types can be a side dish, a topping, a garnish, an appetizer or a dessert. but something from the Man Vs. Self food group should always be the main course. In Brad Birds live action debut, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (which I loved), Tom Cruise and his team of buttkickers go to Dubai so Tom can climb the worlds tallest building with his bare hands. And whaddaya know? Theres a sandstorm. The suspense and visual impact of the sandstorm sequence is so epic, you hardly notice how conveniently inconvenient this Man Vs. Nature conflict is. The Ghost Protocol story isnt about Man Vs. Nature at all. But the part that is pushes this otherwise-unstoppable hero to his limit and beyond. Another way to say it is that Man Vs. Self is your story and any other conflict is your plot.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Man Vs. Self is the internal conflict and the others are external. The external conflicts are always there to incite, agitate and resolve the Man Vs. Self conflict.

This is why one of the only criticisms I have of The Avengers is the all-too-convenient alien invasion and its somewhat-convenient resolution, the consequences of which are preserved only by Tony Starks suit-failure and the worse-than-death fate of being sealed inside another dimension. I think a toe-to-toe showdown with Loki Vs. The Avengers would have been much more satisfying. And it would have been awesome if Loki had been a powerful match for the team. (Of course, I still loved the verbal showdown with Tony Stark and the physical showdown with Hulk.)

Storyteller Vs. Nature:


The Man Vs. Nature conflict is hard to resolve in a satisfactory way. Sometimes, storytellers just end the Man Vs. Nature conflict with a cheat. In Cast Away, Tom Hanks builds a raft out of parts that conveniently washed up on the shore, sets sail and conveniently gets picked up by a passing cargo ship. (Im not trying to trash Cast Away. I actually like the movie. Im just making a point.)

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

In War Of The Worlds, the aliens all just die suddenly because theyre like, allergic to air or something In Contagion, a bunch of people die and some people dont. The end. Good story!

When We Face Nature, We Face Death:


We cant allow our heroes to conveniently escape a Man Vs. Nature conflict. Man Vs. Nature is an inescapable conflict. Its pervasive and primal. Its the wrath of God. The storm cant just suddenly subside and the story ends. The story ends when the hero has faced death and decided what to do with the rest of his life. Well, he has to if youre going to serve the Man Vs. Self story. The Man Vs. Self story, the internal story is what makes the Man Vs. Nature plot worth our time and attention. When we dont establish solid Man Vs. Self conflicts for all of our important characters, we risk creating pointless, mind-numbing, unintentionally-comedic action. This is why so many Man Vs. Nature stories suck

Nature Doesnt Let Man Off The Hook:


Most of us wouldnt stand a chance against Nature if she really had her way with us. Nature reminds the real world of this harsh truth all too often.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

If we represent a force of Nature as a respecter of persons, we are lying to the audience. And the audience knows that its a lie. And well never gain their trust this way. Theyll just laugh all the way through our story. if they make it that far. When we create a force of Nature with a secret escape route, we waste an opportunity to have our characters and audience face their own demise. We cheat everyone including ourselves and waste an opportunity to actually say something important. Dont draw the gun unless youre prepared to fire it. Say what you will about the cheesy dialogue in Titanic, that movie does not pull punches. Nature has her way with the Titanic and everyone on it. That natural disaster costs everyone and every characters Man Vs. Self story is agitated and resolved (served) by the Man Vs. Nature plot. If you want to write a good story, you cant pull punches. especially when Nature is involved. There has to be a high cost. The audience has to feel this cost too. We cant just watch nondescript red shirts suffer. An immeasurably high cost must be paid by the characters we actually care about or else the power of Man Vs. Nature is wasted.

WINGER COMMENT: I think as long as there is meaning behind a nature conflict, and well developed characters, there is no conflict too absurd. One way to give meaning to nature in a story is to use it allegorically. The book Pilgrims Progress, does a great job of this, using man vs. nature, man vs. self, man vs. the world, as an allegory for the main characters spiritual journey. If the conflict is meaningless, and leaves no change in the story or characters, then yes, its absurd. This is when youve come to the point of creating a disaster just to create a disaster. -Paul Cox

When It Comes To Nature, The Only Way Out Is Through.


The only way you can resolve the Man Vs. Nature conflict in a satisfying way is to kill your hero. The hero has to completely lose hope. and then, whether literally or spiritually, he has to die. Your characters CAN be re-born. Physically and/ or spiritually. (More on this later)

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Nature must leave your hero and supporting characters with no other choice but to face death and thus, the life theyve lived and the decision about what theyll do if they survive. They have to stand before the judge, Nature, in this case, and account for their sins. Even if its a comedy In Ghostbusters, the aloof wise-cracker Peter Venkman gets emotionally invested and risks his life to save New York city. He faces literal death and decides to keep going The haunting threat of the zombie herds in The Walking Dead force everyone to face death on a daily basis. That Man Vs. Nature conflict makes the Man Vs. Self conflict inevitable. Theres even a character whose Man Vs. Self conflict is his TRYING to AVOID his Man Vs. Self conflict! And it costs him. The purpose of Man Vs. Nature is to engage Man in a ceaseless battle he cannot win. Nature must test Mans physical, mental, emotional and spiritual qualities until he reaches the absolute end of himself. And to come full-circle, this is why we LOVE survival stories. Because its inspiring to see characters pass the test. Just make sure that, as with all Man Vs. Nature resolutions, it doesnt feel like a cheat. The victory of passing Natures merciless tests will never feel satisfyingly huge if we never see any one fail the same tests. or pass the tests in a sacrificial way which costs them everything.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Chapter 3 Man Vs. Society: Your Hero Will Change The World And The World Will Change Your Hero
by Lora Innes

Use caution when writing a Man vs. Society conflict into your script. If you dont think through what a Man vs. Society conflict will cost your hero, you will wind up with a Man vs. Nature conflict instead. except your storm will be made up of human faces. In the last chapter about Man vs. Nature, the conflict that pits your protagonist against an unintelligent force. The world-ending earthquake does not willfully attack the hero, nor does the hero have complicated emotions toward it. This is bad, will usually suffice. If you take society at a surface level, you can accidentally end up with such a force of nature instead of a complicated, multifaceted group of people, pressures and expectations. You get Indiana Jones vs. The Nazis. Nazis are bad, and so they act like The Borg in your script.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

(Note from Chris: Lora and I both think Indy is amazing. Were just saying that the Indy-version of the Nazis are more a force of Nature than they are a complex Society.) You might miss this oversimplification in a script (even your own) if one or two members of the societal group are used as villains, in a Man vs. Man conflict (which well address in an upcoming post.) But if these characters are simply photocopies of the larger group with a more menacing snarl and a fancier name, youll never get deeper into the real magic a Man vs. Society story can conjure. Avoid this two-dimensionality by addressing the sacrifices that your protagonist must make when he stands against a society.

A Man Loses No Part Of His Soul By Taking On A Tornado.


but he might lose it all if he takes on The Firm, for example. Societies are made of individuals. This is what makes them so dynamic, hard to nail down and evasive. Every member of a society does not share all of the values with every other member. But viewed with a wideangle lens, a society agrees on and enforces certain beliefs, rules and expectations. But zoom into an individual level, and things get much more complex. In my life outside of Paper Wings, I write a historical fiction comic about the American Revolutionary War. The thing that fascinates me most about that war is how different all of the founding fathers were in their beliefs and yet, for the most part those differences didnt truly manifest themselves until later. In order to rebel against England and win their independence, they banded together, united. However, after the war, their differences became pronounced when they tried to create this new government they had just won. Former friends and allies pitted against each other, some even turned into all-out enemies.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Never forget that a group of seemingly like-minded human beings will have as many different motives and opinions as there are members of that group. Homogenize the members of a society and youll wind up with antagonists like Mr. Smith and his agents. But think through the individuals who make up that group, and watch what it does to your hero when he chooses to stand against them. Suddenly, there are stakes.

The Cost of Relationship.


The book and film The Help took place during the Civil Rights movement in the deep south. Skeeter, a young college grad comes home to find her friends entirely different mostly because they have stayed the same. She has changed during her time at university and that experience has given her new eyes to see things she once took for granted. Throughout the story we see over and over again what taking a stand against racism and segregation is costing the help, as their livelihoods and their very lives are threatened. But for Skeeter, a privileged WASP,the cost of participation is comparatively low. So what if Skeeter never gets invited to another afternoon bridge party? Her girlfriends are racist elitists who make us cringe every time they open their mouths. Skeeter would be better off without them, and they appear to be mostly irredeemable. But throw in a love interest for the geeky girl whos never had a man and watch the stakes change. Suddenly Skeeter has something very real to lose. Your Man Vs. Society conflict should cost your hero a valued relationship. By turning your back on society, you are turning your back on actual people you know.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

The Cost of Reputation.


Jerry Maguire begins with Jerry writing a manifesto. He has become disillusioned with his life as a successful sports agent because the agency is corrupt. He not only writes his manifesto, he mass-produces it, and leaves a copy on every co-workers desk. When his impassioned coup detat only manages to inspire one other employee, Jerry is left in a tough place. He sticks to his convictions, though, and walks out anyway, Dorothy in tow, and he spends the rest of the movie dealing with the cost of that decision. It turns out that leaving his comfortable, successful career wont be easy. A lot of the advantages and power he thought he had actually came from the reputation of the agency rather than himself. Most of his former clients dont want to touch him with a ten foot pole, just in case his idealistic, freethinking spirit is contagious. Your Man Vs. Society conflict should make your hero risk something, if not everything. Society is where we make our lives. So when we take ourselves out of it, what is left?

The Cost of Future.


Remy in Ratatouille is not your typical rat. After his gourmet cooking antics and a freak thunderstorm conspire to separate him from his family, he finds himself in Paris, living his dream as a chef. Not your typical day for a rodent.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Through his experiences working with humans in a restaurant, Remy comes to see that perhaps, (in this magical Disney world, at least) rats and people can coincide in 5Zagat-starred harmony. except that he cannot convince his family that there is a better life outside of stealing dumpster garbage. Remy gives up his future twice, first when he leaves his father, brother and the safety of a rat living a rats life. But then again when he finds out that it is dangerous for a rat to mingle with people too closely. Both worlds are right and yet neither are. Remy has to learn that you can have roots and wings, but can only learn that by giving both up. What does your hero value more than his future? The current confines of his society are obviously not going to provide him with his dreams. But what is the safety he is risking by taking on this Man Vs. Society conflict?
WINGER COMMENT: I think its not so hard to differentiate between Man vs Nature and Man vs Society conflicts. Just think what the protagonist is fighting against. If its a trait, vice, or even virtue (like greed, coldness, cruelty, lust, faith, hope, etc) hes fighting society. Traits and vices are not intelligent entities, and they certainly do not actively seek to harm our protagonist. If that was the case, every single character would be a protagonist. What sets the hero apart in these stories (and the story itself) is the heros ability to visualize something better. Man made things, like society, can be changed. Natural forces, like erupting volcanoes, cannot. Another way to look at it is this: Heroes always react to nature. When it comes to society, they take a more proactive role. I think the key word here is change, as its mentioned in the post. Something has to change in Man Vs Society stories. Whether its society or the protagonist is up to you. -Jean Paul

The Cost of Failure.


Your protagonist does not need to triumph in his war against society. As a matter of fact, your story might be far more poignant if he fails.

In The Devil Wears Prada we are thrown into the vapid culture of the fashion industry, where bagels and the dress size 6 are forbidden. Andy Sachs accepts her new job at the fashion magazine as a means to an end a gateway into the world of journalism. At first, we laugh along with her at the absurdities of the industry, and yet bit by bit, character by character, we see a much more complicated and, dare we say it, endearing, world. Andy falls prey not just to the trappings of the fashion industry, but to its genuine charms. And those charms are not just expensive shoes, they are the people who are as complicated as the history of a frumpy, cerulean blue sweater.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

This assimilation costs Andy all of her relationships, outside of the industry and even inside when she stabs a co-worker in the back to get what she wants. Its by failing in her Man vs. Society conflict that Andy is interesting. She doesnt change the world, it changes her. And yet, because of the colorful cast of Runway magazine employees, mixed motives, values and all, we can sympathize with Andy each and every time she makes a soulsucking decision. Because really, though we might never have had Miranda Priestly breathing down our neck to get the new Harry Potter book, we all have made self-serving decisions that hurt the people we love. This is why your heros failure to change the world can be just as poignant as his success. After all, at the end of 1984 when Winston Smith declares that he loves Big Brother, we can hardly hold it against him. It is his failure that gives power to the message.

Man vs. Society is a Mirror.


Ultimately, your Man vs. Society conflict is a mirror. Your hero is a part of the group he is either working to change or rebelling against. And by being a member of the thing he seeks to change, he first must change himself.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Every Man vs. Society conflict inevitably has a Man vs. Self conflict at the heart.

Hold him up against the group he is a part of


Skeeter is naive and a passive participant in segregation. Jerry is a selfish, greedy liar. Remy is an elitist and a thief.

but pull him out of it and see what emerges:


Skeeter is an activist, making a difference in her world. Jerry can be selfless, and is even capable of love. And Remy finds a way to fit in and give back.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Chapter 4 Man Vs. Machine: The Storytellers Frontier


by Chris Oatley

If your robot army can be defeated accidentally by the likes of Jar Jar Binks, you have NOT crafted a strong Man Vs. Machine conflict.

Man Vs. Machine is the newest of all the types of dramatic conflict. The Legend Of John Henry is the oldest Man Vs. Machine story I could think of. That story was born during the industrial revolution in the late 19th century. Regardless of when the first Man Vs. Machine story was told, we know that technology is infinitely younger than Nature. Technology as we know it, the kind of technology we refer to as mechanical is much younger than Society. Thus the!Man Vs. Machine!conflict holds tremendous potential for new story ideas and visceral drama. Audiences instinctively understand that in the world of Man Vs. Machine there are still realms left entirely unexplored. Its no wonder why Sci-Fi has gone mainstream. When done well (T2, 2001: A Space Odyssey, Alien, The Iron Giant) Man Vs. Machine can frame ancient questions in new and interesting ways.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

These days, you cant swing a set of nunchaku without hitting a mechanical foot soldier or one of Akus safe-for-broadcast, robotic henchmen, but rarely is the true potential of the Man Vs. Machine conflict ever fully realized. If you or a storyteller you know is using Machines irresponsibly, please read on Audiences instinctively understand that in the world of Man Vs. Machine there are still realms left entirely unexplored.

How Storytellers Waste This Great Opportunity:


Before I move on, I should explain that when it comes to storytelling, Machine can mean any kind of soulless, technological threat. And when the Machine is also Man a person like The Iron Giant or a pseudo-person like Bishop in Aliens things can get!really interesting. The problem is, most storytellers who are crafting stories with machine-driven conflict, focus too much on the machines and never explore the conflict.! Or, rather, they seem to think that the Man Vs. Machine conflict gets more interesting as the number of exploding robots increases.

Michael Bay made this movie instead of a good one.

There are these giant, sentient robots who are stranded here on earth. They can disguise themselves as human vehicles and thats how they hide. The good robots protect us from the evil robots but that makes it really difficult to stay hidden. The conflict escalates to the point where the good robots have to ally themselves with a geeky kid So. Much. Potential.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

As I resist the temptation to take cheap shots at Michael Bay, no one can deny that his Transformers franchise is a prime example of a wasted opportunity. Michael Bay had control of a multifaceted concept that has served some of the best Man Vs. Machine stories ever. But the Transformers movies go wrong where T2 and The Iron Giant went right. In T2 and The Iron Giant the Man Vs. Self conflict is personified by the Man Vs. Machine conflict. In Stanley Kubricks 2001: A Space Odyssey the technological threat is all Machine. H.A.L. is calculating, unfeeling & myopic so we need a human character to contrast and conflict with it. Thats interesting because the human is the one with the Man Vs. Self!conflict which!H.A.L. forces him to resolve by the end of the story. (SIDE NOTE: Im not convinced that Kubrick resolved the Man Vs. Self conflict in a satisfactory or appropriate way). The Iron Giant,!however, makes a choice. I am NOT a gun. The primary Man Vs. Machine conflict is also the primary Man Vs. Self conflict and they resolve within the character. Sarah Connor!becomes more Terminator as The Terminator becomes more human. The Machine and the Self conflicts take place within both of those characters. Thats why the story needs the T-1000. The T-1000 defines Machine within the context of the story as Arnolds T-100 character did in the first movie. Bays Transformers are neither Man nor Machine and that concept is never explored.! but there sure are a lot of robot fights. Sure, the Transformers movies made bajillions of dollars but who will argue that the dramatic conflict in those movies is even clear, let alone cathartic? Comics, cartoons, movies and games overflow with robot fights but robot fights alone will never make true drama.! Robot fights alone are just noise and flashing lights.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

I think that the Man Vs. Machine is actually the least interesting conflict type when done poorly. So how do we make it interesting?

Machines Are Like Forces Of Nature. Only Different:


If you havent read my chapter about Man Vs. Nature. Its important to understand how the Man Vs. Nature conflict is made interesting because the Man Vs. Machine conflict is made interesting in the exact same way The missed opportunity of the Man Vs. Nature narrative is Natures purging wrath.! Natures unstoppable power can force the hero of your story to face his own death and in turn his life, his values and his past choices. Its easy to understand, then, why robots who exist for no other purpose than to be blown up by your hero (or by each other) suck. In the Man Vs. Machine conflict, as in the Man Vs. Nature conflict, the real victory for the hero is in resolving his own Man vs. Self conflict, whether your hero is literally a Man or literally a Machine.

On The Day Of Judgement:


Nature is, of course, epic. But you have to remember to make your Mechanical threats epic too. If your robot army can be defeated accidentally by the likes of Jar Jar Binks, you have NOT crafted a strong Man Vs. Machine conflict. You also have to make your Natural and/ or Mechanical opposition completely unavoidable. Otherwise, your hero will just avoid it. and thats not a story. You create drama by making the external conflict (Machine, Nature) so impossible, so punishing that it brings your hero to the absolute end of himself.

While Sarah Connor is being chased by her technological threat, the T-1000, she is pressured more and more to face her decision: Will she remain Man or become an emotionless Machine like her hunter? The Iron Giant becomes Man by the love of Hogarth Hughes while those who see him as all Machine, force him to decide once and for all: Am I a gun? The Tin Woodman begins his journey along the Yellow Brick Road convinced that he has lost his heart and become a Machine but as he falls in love with his unlikely family, he realizes that he might need to change his paradigm.

Whether your hero physically lives or physically dies, he must at some point, face death. At that point he is faced with a decision:

Die to himself, to his old ways and be reborn a new, self-sacrificial person

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Or harden his heart, drift the way of Michael Corleone and become one of the living dead. SIDE NOTE: Im getting off-track now, but just to clarify: Your hero might be like Forrest Gump who is so pure and self-sacrificial that it changes everyone around him (Jenny and Lieutenant Dan).

Mechanical Vs. Natural:


So if Machines and Forces Of Nature serve the same narrative purpose for your hero to force him to resolve his own Man Vs. Self conflict then how are they different?

Natural entities are unavoidable and unstoppable. Mechanical entities are unavoidable but we believe that they can be stopped.
WINGER COMMENT: I love this conflict because it forces us to question our roles in the universe. Perhaps more so than other conflicts. The fundamental core of humanity is its ability to create. We are the only species on Earth who have created ways to fly into the air, dive into the water, and leave our environment entirely by orbiting high above the atmosphere. Creativity is the highest accomplishment of humanity, and I think this conflict gets to that core and asks the very basic question of human existence: how far do our creative abilities extend, and what will happen when we become so powerful within ourselves but lose the other fundamental core: compassion? We have barely begun to explore this conflict, because its answer may be a fundamental shift in the way humans define themselves as a species. Gene Rodenberry likened us to a child-race, and I think thats very interesting, because then the Atomic Bomb would be the gun we found in daddys closet. -Michael Dambold

We believe that technological threats can be stopped because we created the technology. We did not invent Nature.! Nature, like God (or the concept of God for all you non-theists out there), came before us.! It is a primal force. Regardless of our personal, theistic paradigms our instincts remind us that Nature, in one way or another, created us. When Nature goes bad, we accept that it is more powerful than us and our only hope is to avoid it (no drama) or survive it (potential for compelling drama). But when Machines go bad

When Machines Go Bad, We Must Fight:


The central tension of any good Man Vs. Machine story is paranoia. We create technology to make our lives easier but the threat of technology is that it will destroy our livelihood.! We fear that Machines will replace our jobs, our creativity, our relationships. According to The Terminator franchise, the Alien franchise, 2001: A Space Odyssey and Battlestar Galactica, we harbor a collective

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

fear that our Machines will one day become self-aware and turn against us. So when Machines go bad, we have to fight because, after all We brought this upon ourselves. Ultimately, the Man Vs. Machine conflict is the consequence of greed.! Thus, it carries with it guilt, regret and often mourning. The central tension of any good Man Vs. Machine story is paranoia. Before I wrap up, I want to provide you with a couple of tools that you can use in your own Man Vs. Machine stories.

The Pervasive Threat:


Something that makes Battlestar Galactica so interesting is the pervasive Cylon threat.! No matter what the central conflict is in any given episode of the series, there is always another layer of tension. The Cylons are everywhere.! They look like us. Theyre watching. and they are plotting our genocide. Whenever one human character betrays another, its like a double-whammy. Because it doesnt just result in hurt feelings.! it results in Cylons.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Conflicting Points Of View:


The Iron Giant reveals how important it is that you clearly communicate each characters point of view.! Hogarth sees The Giant as a person while the appropriately-named Kent Mansley sees The Giant as a technological threat.! Those two entities personify the Man Vs. Self battle that is going on inside of The Giant.! Hogarth sees Man.! Mansley sees Machine.

Machines Are Not Always Mechanical:


In the under-rated film Gattaca the primary conflict is, as it should be, Man Vs. Self.! The secondary, external conflict is Man Vs. Society and there is a strong Man Vs. Man conflict present as well.! (Its an amazing accomplishment to balance these three conflicts so well) but there is yet another Man Vs. Machine element to the story. The story itself would never have happened if not for humanitys own genetic tinkering.! Again, guilt, regret and mourning, even paranoia infuse this amazing story.! Ironically, the story feels very mythic and ancient, despite its futuristic setting.! I attribute that feeling to the storys depth.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Chapter 5 Man Vs. Man: The Heros Mirror


by Lora Innes

Perhaps of all the literary conflicts, comic books have championed Man vs. Man!more than any other genre.

The Man Vs. Man conflict manifests in the epic form of Heroes vs. Villains. There are many ways to use Man vs. Man in your script, but a Superheroagainst-Arch-nemesis provides an excellent opportunity to examine a dynamic range of possibilities in this conflict type. The Super Villain is the crown jewel of comics storytelling. Every great Superhero has his one true Super Villain who is the reoccurring foil in his story. Many villains are a caricature of a specific, exaggerated personality defect which makes them fun to write and just as fun to read. Harley Quinn is the girl who falls for the wrong guy, but shell never see it. Magneto is the victim who cannot forgive, and his inability to forgive turns him into the abuser. Poison Ivy is lust and intoxication personified quite literally, forbidden fruit. There is a reason that Magneto is not Spider-Mans greatest nemesis, and its the same reason you wont find the Joker pitted against in Superman very often

Mirror, Mirror
Here at Paper Wings, were big fans of Brian McDonalds book!Invisible Ink. McDonald talks about a concept he calls Flip-Flops in his book:!Flip-flops is the name that I give characters who are opposites, but exchange character traits

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He goes on to talk about three kinds of Flip-Flops: Clones, Opposites, and Catalysts. Clones run parallel journeys, Opposites contrast one another, and a Catalyst character is introduced to force change in your protagonist. These are all mirror characterscharacters paired together or pitted against one another intentionally, in order to draw attention to key aspects of your heros journey. A mirror character does not need to be an antagonist however this concept works just as well for supporting cast members. But in our ongoing discussion about conflicts thinking about a mirror or Flip-Flop character can help you create conflict in your protagonists story without accident, conflict that directly pushes your hero on the self-discovery journey at your storys core. Because of the intense and exaggerated nature of heroes and villains, I want to take a look at five comic book nemeses that have endured the test of time.

Batman vs. Joker: Parallels


In many ways, Joker and Batman are at two ends of the same spectrum. They both operate outside of the law, are violence prone, and cant seem to quit each other. In Christopher Nolans recent take (although it is also a common theme whichever interpretation of Batman you read), the conclusion is outright drawn: They created each other. Though they share many dangerous similarities, they are radically different in key areas that highlight the core of their individual characters. There is a line that Batman has drawn that he WILL NOT cross: Batman wont kill. The Joker is his greatest temptation and ultimate reminder of who he will be if he crosses that line.
WINGER COMMENT: Something Ive started to do for fun is to watch movies and pick out what tactics good-guys and bad-guys are using in common. Sometimes the results are surprising. Often good guys lie, threaten, and assault other people just as much as the bad guys do. Figuring out what keeps them the good-guys can become a very interesting activity in those situations! Plus, you can apply the same lessons to your own heroes and villains. -Robin Dempsey

For as much as Batmans humanity hangs by a thread (hes more comfortable as the bat than the man), it is his respect for life and his desire to protect it that defines him. Jokers humanity is long gone. Parallel antagonists can act as warnings for your hero.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

We see enough of the two characters in each other to know that given the wrong choice, they could end up the same. These are cautionary tales.

Superman vs. Lex Luthor: Opposites


Superman and Lex Luthor are polar opposites. One is noble and brawny, the other corrupt and diabolical. Superman may be the most powerful man on earth, but he uses his powers to protect the defenseless and strive to be a shining example of good. Not only does he never use his power for personal gain, he also chose to live in secret, spending his days as the meek, dorky, forgettable Clark Kent. Lex Luthor is a man without superpowers. But unlike Clark Kent (raised on a humble farm), he is a man of privilege and uses every advantage his sinister mind can come up with on his continual quest for power. He is out for personal gain, not caring who must suffer in the process- and will crush whomever gets in his way. Luthor is always outsmarting Superman with ingeniously masterminded plans. Fists, XRay vision, super speed, heat vision, freeze breath, invulnerability- none of that seems to give Superman an edge if Luthor is always one step ahead Opposite antagonists can reveal the limits of your hero. One is weak where the other is strong. Who is your protagonist when he can no longer rely on his strengths? Force him to answer that.

Professor X vs. Magneto: The Divergent Path


Former friends and allies, Professor X and Magneto both want the same thing: the end of mutant persecution. But they solve that problem very differently.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Professor X fights tirelessly for the hope that mutants can live with humans in peace. And though Magneto has tried both militant solutions (brotherhood of evil mutants and world domination) and isolationism (establishing a mutant utopian society in the Savage Land), he cannot bring himself to join Xavier in the hopes that humans will ever except mutants. The divergent path adds depth to your characters, because it raises the cost of the conflict. Because both protagonist and antagonist started out in the same place, we know, at their core, they are capable of the same things. Which makes either characters decent into darkness that much more tragic.

Daredevil vs. Kingpin: The Convergent Path


Matt Murdock is the law. He is a successful, trusted lawyer who represents clients in Hells Kitchen. Wilson Fisk aka The Kingpin is the polar opposite. He is the mob boss who runs the town according to his own laws. Murdock is a man alone, Kingpin the head of a tightly knit criminal organization. And yet the longer these two men fight one another for control of Hells Kitchen, the more that Daredevil begins to resemble Kingpin. Brian Michael Bendiss run on the series!makes you sick with every bad decision Matt makes to take down Fisk until Daredevil begins to look very much like the thing that he claims to hate. !And yet good luck trying to stop reading, either. Matt Murdock is still in there somewhere, under all of the loss and pain, and youre rooting for him to find himself again. This is the magic of the convergent path; when will your hero stop, and can he? If he doesnt, what will it cost? Will there be any of himself left by the end?
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Spider-Man vs. Green Goblin: The Reminder


Peter Parker, an orphan, lost not just both parents, but also his surrogate father, Uncle Ben. And when Uncle Ben died, it was Peters fault. Now twice an orphan, the brilliant young student meets Norman Osborn, a millionaire scientist sees who sees in the promising young scientist what he does not in his own son. Norman and Peter bond, to his best friend Harrys annoyance and Peter finds a new father figure to believe in him. Until, of course, Peter realizes that Norman is not just a little bit crazy, but that he has also turned himself into a monster and is terrorizing the city as the ominous Green Goblin. Out of control, Green Goblin even kills Peters girlfriend. In their final showdown, Goblin is killed, though it wasnt Peters fault. Goblin might be dead, but he lives on in his son. (Quite literally, when Harry takes the Green Goblin mantle on himself.) Peter cannot outrun his demons so long as Harry Osborn remains his best friend. Is there something your protagonist wishes he could forget? Something he has done that he regrets more than anything?
Create an antagonist who acts as a thorn in the heros side, a constant reminder of a past that cannot be erased.

This conflict will force your protagonist to stop running one way or another.

Catalysts
The point is to avoid the trap of thinking of your villains merely in terms of what cool accessories you can give him or which awesome never-before-thought-of superpower he might have. Ultimately your Man vs. Man conflict needs to act as a catalyst for your heros real conflict, which is always with himself. This is your villains most important role. Write a villain who adds depth to your heros conflict by mirroring it or contrasting it. Set them on the same journeys, or drive them apart. Your villain should reveal a fault within your hero, and force him to change, for better or worse.
Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Can Batman defend Gotham City without resorting to the tactics of the criminals he is trying to stop? Or do the ends justify the means? See how this conflict has nothing to do with Joker? Joker is simply the vehicle for plot. But whether or not Batman stops the Joker isnt nearly as engaging as whether or not Batman stops himself from crossing a line. Whatever you chose do, make sure it always drives back to that ultimate Man vs. Self conflict which is at the heart of every great story. !

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Afterword
Chris recently emailed me a link to a Kickstarter campaign for a new graphic novel with a simple note, This is the vaguest pitch ever. He was right. The blurb revealed nothing more than the character design, except for implying vague adventure. The accompanying video didnt actually reveal any of the story, either. Instead, the artist focused on his interests and inspirations, concluding with a promise that the endeavor would be worth my while. The music on the video was funky. The art style was original and sophisticated. But he was asking me to support a graphic novel, not an album or art book. What on earth was the story about? I had no idea. And after watching the video, I wasnt sure the creator did, either. Yet he had doubled his Kickstarter goal. Isnt it crazy that we comic creators pick apart the inner workings of the LOST island, the most minute inconsistencies in the latest Marvel comics plot or the unforgivable changes to the latest cinematic adaption of a beloved bestseller, yet when it comes to independent comics, we are content to give a passing grade on the merit of artwork alone. I dont understand it. Chris and I started Paper Wings because we are passionate about taking our art and stories to the next level. Most artists recognize that making better drawings takes hard work and practice. We know its not all talent. We know we can improve over time. We know studying, tutorials and mentorship will help us get better. And yet we mistakenly believe that there is a secret alchemy to writing: Mix an interesting concept with strong artwork and a dash of magic (usually called dialogue) and a great story will pop out. But writing great stories takes just as much time, practice and intentionality as making great art.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

Here at Paper Wings we dont just want to make comics, we want to elevate comics. Lets write stories that make sense, have direction, momentum and theme. Stories with purpose and satisfying conclusions that move our readers. I know a story has gotten through my defenses if the characters haunt me long after Ive finished the book or film. When I lay down to go to sleep that night, do I revisit the people and places Ive just met? Or does my mind drift through tomorrows to do list? A great story is a sticky story. And we want to help you create one. So head on over to www.PaperWingsPodcast.com and become a part of our inspiring community of creators. Were so glad youre here.

Copyright Lora Innes and Chris Oatley 2013. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. www.paperwingspodcast.com

This ebook is an exclusive gift to subscribers to the Paper Wings Podcast email newsletter. No part of this publication may be reproduced, transmitted, transcribed, stored in a database or retrieval system, or translated into any language in any form by any means, without the prior written permission of the authors. Copyright 2013, Lora Innes and Chris Oatley. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. No part of this ebook may be copied or sold. www.paperwingspodcast.com