In Janet Burroway’s book Writing Fiction, she talks about Patterns Of Power in writing and how both the protagonist and antagonist should be matched in order to keep the reader guessing as to the outcome of the struggle between the two.
She cites the different ways in which power can be shown: brute, physical strength, charm, knowledge, moral power, wealth, rank, etc. Usually the characters hold many forms of power in their own personal arsenals and that makes for a very suspenseful and complex play between the competing forces.
This got me thinking about Eric Byrne and Transactional Analysis which first hit the best seller lists in the late sixties and early seventies. I found his concept of Parent, Adult, Child to be fascinating and very true to life and the ways in which people wield power over others.
What I found most amusing and have seen in fiction stories is how when one person begins acting like a parent the other will most likely slip into their ‘child’ mode and either rebel like a kid, or become emotional like a small child. I’ve seen an example of this when a main character visits a teacher she had when she was in second grade, and even though the main character is an adult she suddenly feels as though she is that little kid again, feeling shy or tongue tied.
I believe in Transactional Analysis and the three states of Parent, Adult and Child. The more I think about this, the more ideas I get about dialogue between characters and characterization.
Have you noticed this power play in your daily life, or in fiction? How would you script a play between someone who is acting like a parent confronting someone who chooses to act the child, or the adult role? Or two adults playing the child, or …? You get the point.
Nancy A. Niles is the author of Vendetta: A Deadly Win, a contributor to the book on writing entitled Novel Writing Tips and Techniques From Authors of Second Wind Publishing and a co-author on the book Rubicon Ranch: Riley’s Story all three published by Second Wind Publishing Company.