I've always had a hard time understanding the RS. I knew that it wasn't about the characters but the relationship itself, and not just an argument between the MC and IC. I knew those things, but I just couldn't figure it out in a practical way, so I always just looked at it as the MC vs IC because that's as close as I could get to understanding it. But the other day something clicked and I think I get it now. So of course now I'd like to share my revelations here. The easiest way I know to do that is through example.
So the RS is like any other Throughline in that it's not just a relationship you're looking at (father/son, friends, co-workers, competitors, etc) but a problematic relationship. That's obvious, but when looking at the relationship as an MC vs IC argument, the problematic part of it just always seemed to be already built into it as the argument between them. But now I think I get how the relationship works, and it's like this.
Let's say the relationship at the heart of a story is between a father and a son. The context for why this relationship is problematic will be that the father would like the son to follow in his footsteps. So let's say the father is an athlete and the son is trying to make the High School team. Any disagreements outside of "following in the fathers footsteps" in this story, then, would be irrelevant to the RS throughline. For instance, if the son isn't doing his homework and is getting lots of bad grades, the father might be unhappy about it, but it won't be a problem at the heart of the RS as long as the son is still on the team and has plenty of time to practice. In fact, the father might not even care about it. But if neglecting his school work ends up getting the son kicked off the team, then there would be a problem between the father and son.
Or maybe the father is a businessman. Problems might arise from the son not being business-savvy enough to run the business despite his desire to do so, or from the son not caring to get into the business and opting to start a garage band, or anything that keeps the son from successfully joining the business.
So both can be in agreement in the relationship (both want the son to become an athlete or to join the business) and still have a problem because the relationship isn't just an argument between the two of them.
So does that sound about right? Thoughts on where I might be a bit off still? Let me know.