A reader said it would be useful if I did some diagrams of movies, so here’s a conflict diagram of the classic 1988 Die Hard. (You can read a full synopsis here.)
I’ve used green to show McClane’s team, red to show the forces ranged against them.
- The Good Cop has a sub plot — can he use his gun in anger? I suspect the hostages also have their own sub plots.
- The Building & Hostages have a mixed effect on JM’s Survival. The building provides both a survival-friendly environment and a dangerous prison. However, the hostages are merely a liability.
- Wife’s Safety is both a Bone of Contention and a force that works against JM’s Survival while at the same time motivating him to survive.
- I’ve left out thematic forces since I’d have to rewatch the film to snag them with confidence. However i suspect McCane’s team all represent Rugged Individualism, while the others represent Corrupt Power or something similar.
Looking at the diagram, I can see that it’s quite a complex film, albeit an unsubtle one. Perhaps this explains its longevity?
Take a look at Storyteller Tools, my book on outlining and plotting! It shows you how to use Conflict Diagrams and other tools to work up your novel idea into a writable outline, and then to blitz through it in record time.