Good & Evil

Good and Evil

What is the Good & Evil story tactic?

Tap into strong feelings of right and wrong in your audience. Bring a moral conflict into your story.

In a simple story, you set up a battle between Right vs Wrong (with you on the side of the angels). But you can also show tough choices: when two Rights collide or we must choose the lesser of Evils. We love this kind of complex storytelling, which is why Breaking Bad won so many awards!

Try this tactic alongside Three Great Conflicts or before developing a story based on Rules, Cheats & Rebels.

How to use the Good & Evil story tactic

Jonathan Haidt identifies six basic moral conflicts:

  • care vs harm;
  • fairness vs cheating;
  • libery vs oppression;
  • authority vs subversion;
  • loyalty vs betrayal;
  • purity vs filth;

Simple Conflict Story

Which side does your project take in any of these battles? For example, if you're trying to reduce plastic waste, the conflict is between purity vs conflict.

Complex Conflict Story

The German philosopher Friedrich Hegel said that "genuine tragedy is not a conflict between right and wrong, it is a conflict between two rights."

Does your project try to balance one competing good against another, or help us choose the lesser of two evils?

For example, if you're developing a way to encourage whistleblowers to report abusive behaviour at work, that involves care vs harm, but also loyalty vs betrayal.

Use Five Ts to play around with ways to highlight the conflict at the heart of your story.

Credit: J.Haidt, The Righteous Mind.

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Good & Evil is one of 54 storytelling recipe cards inside the Storyteller Tactics card deck.

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