They are not, really, but rather they are both passionate about the same issue.
In this week’s New Yorker, I happened upon a gallery of photographs of powerful men (and a few women!) entitled “Portraits of Power.”
The most remarkable aspect of the collection is just how similar they all look. Without the captions and knowledge of their character, it would be almost impossible to determine who’s good and who’s bad from just the picture.
In the print edition of the magazine, the photographs are grouped together, and looking at these leaders, side by side, the similarities are even more striking in facial expression and intensity.
There’s a confident Ahmadinejad next to an equally confident Obama.
A smiling Berlusconi and a beaming Fernandez.
Netanyahu and Abbas both unimpressed.
The gallery reminded me of the recent ad campaign they’ve been running for HSBC bank, in which three identical photographs are shown with a different caption under each.
The most compelling ad in the series is the one that features the same bald head three times, each accompanied by one word: STYLE, SOLDIER, and SURVIVOR.
Everything means something different to everyone.
As an exercise:
Imagine two of your characters that feel they have nothing in common (your hero and villain or any other two) meet-up to discuss their differences in a neutral place. Where do they meet? Is it a coffee shop like in Heat or the bathroom in Runaway Jury or maybe the backroom in Caddyshack? What do they talk about? What do they have in common? What is the subtext of their relationship? Can they resolve their issues? Or do they agree to disagree?
Once you are able to get past the good and evil labels in your writing and realize that each of your characters has their own wants and needs, you’ll be able to write more interesting, three-dimensional characters.