Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

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14 September 2015

Storylines: Intersecting Planes

I originally titled this storyline “mortal and immortal”, but that example is extreme. “Intersecting planes” deals with the relationship between two characters whose lives have virtually inhabited different planes. Thrust together by circumstance and now mutually dependent, these characters live out experiments in trust and highlight the writer’s perspectives on inadequacy and balance.

This storyline possesses enough potential to be easily mastered, and good examples abound. The popular science-fiction series “Doctor Who” revolves around an on-going example in the lives of the immortal, alien Doctor and his current, very human companion. “White Collar”, a series which aired on USA Network from 2009 to 2014, brought together a criminal and a detective with similar intelligences but wildly different skill sets and modi operandi. “Bones”, an ongoing series airing on Fox Network since 2005, pairs a genius forensic anthropologist with a comparatively ordinary FBI agent. Star trek, a classic of the science fiction genre, brought together the ever impulsive Kirk with a coldly logical Spock.

This storyline charts the development of a trusting friendship that transcends any and all differences in capacities and ideals. Consequently, mistrust and conflicting ethics repeatedly disrupt the characters’ relationship. Because its effects depend on character development, this storyline is best suited to series: long books and television arcs. The results may be comic, frightening, and often moving at their resolution, when the relationship has been redeemed. All of the above examples capture all three facets of this storyline at various points.

This setup allows for infinite opportunities, but I will attempt a few pointers.

This storyline has the potential to explore feelings of inadequacy. Every relationship contains the unanswerable question, “Why am I loved?” If you wish to explore this sort of emotion in your own writing, remember that one of the characters must be relatable. This is the case with “Doctor Who”, but not with “White Collar”. In the former, one character is notably human, relatable, while the other is virtually a demi-god. In the latter, both characters have lives and abilities far outside the ordinary scope; their relatability suffers a small blow, (mitigated by other factors). Keep someone human: make them as relatable as possible.

On the other hand, this storyline may also explore differences of ideals, seeking the balance between order and chaos or between head and heart. “White Collar” does an excellent job of this, while “Doctor Who” attempts it far less. If you wish to write from this angle, simply make sure your two characters go far in embodying their respective, conflicting ideals.

Of course, you may do both: have your characters differ in both capacity and nature.

Be warned! This storyline has no ending that is both realistic and satisfying. You may write a thrilling, beautiful journey for your characters, but as your final pages turn, their options will grow severely limited. Your best choice is the fairy tail ending: Have your characters ride off into the sunset or live happily ever after, so to speak. Your only other option is death: Kill one of your characters, (through nobility or through defeat, depending on whether you want a cathartic or a horrifying ending), and then walk through the remaining character’s acceptance of that death. The above examples worked these ideas marvelously. “Doctor Who” has repeatedly caused companions to ride off into the sunset, and “White Collar” killed its protagonist only to resurrect him for a similar sunset ride. I suspect “Bones” will end on happily ever after, not separation, but the choice remains in the hands of its writers, as does yours.

Now you know the premise, and you have been warned. Happy writing.

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015