I’m sure right now you’re asking, what is a hyperbolic relationship, exactly? I’ll admit, I did make up the phrase less than 48 hours ago, but I feel it’s something worth examining. Before I get into the heart of the post, I’m going to break down my newly coined phrase to make it easier to explain.
Hyperbolic. According to Merriam-Webster it’s defined as follows:
(of language) exaggerated; hyperbolical.
Relationship. According to Merriam-Webster it’s defined as follows:
the way in which two or more people or organizations regard and behave toward each other.
“the landlord–tenant relationship”
So in combining these two terms, “hyperbolic”, and, “relationship”, I’m defining the new term as such:
A trope defined by exaggeration of drama caused by the clash of personality types held by the characters involved.
Now that I’ve clearly established what I’m talking about, it’s time to move onto why I think it’s something important and worth examining for the sake of our creative works.
It’s an excellent tool to convey a message!
That’s what we’re trying to do, right? No artist in the history of the world has ever looked at the raw materials of his craft and shrugged saying, “Eh, let’s make something pointless today.”
It just doesn’t happen. When we create art in any medium, we’re always trying to convey some kind of message. Maybe you call it a theme? Maybe you call it an emotional through line or a motif. It doesn’t matter what you call it because you do have something in mind when you start creation.
Hell, even the pros teach this method, all the way from writing fiction and movie scripts, to designing video games.
They all say that you need to decide on the granular core element to the story you’re trying to tell and go from there.
Granted, this is all reflected in different ways and are then impacted by the limitations and requirements of the mediums you’re using, but that’s always there.
No way around it.
These hyperbolic relationships are an excellent way to drive that point home because exaggerated examples are easier to understand.
They have a way of putting things in black and white that real life and, by extension, realistic story telling has a very hard time in doing.
In real life, actual change happens slowly. A matter of degrees inching along day by day. It’s the baby steps that really cement any kind of change in an individual. Whether it be the hero’s fall from grace or the evil villain’s redemption, no significant change in a human being happens overnight.
For example, this is why we see the Byronic Hero romance the pure maiden type. The hero’s dark and tragic nature is so starkly different from the purity of the typically, and unfortunately, totally pure significant other.
It usually involves the pure character helping the tortured soul accept the nastier parts of themselves because they weren’t loved, etc.
While it does get cheesy look at how that sends the message through.
If someone so pure could accept someone so tortured, then what does that mean for those of us not so Permanently Left of Center and closer to the mean?
It helps drill through the message of acceptance of one’s self/redemption/love conquers all that has a uniquely powerful way of taking over us all with its whimsy.
Now that I’ve recognized it, I’m beyond determined to try to turn it on its head in a piece of writing just to see how that would go over with people.
The other great thing about finally seeing it for what it is, is that now it can be used in a different way. It doesn’t have to be a romance. This dynamic could be threaded through any type of relationship that you could imagine.
Just think of the possibilities!
How do you think it would go over? Do you agree? Disagree? Think I’m nuts? Whatever you do think, leave those thoughts in the comments below.
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The photos used in this post were used with permission by the owner.