The Intimacy of the Opponent that Takes you out of the World

Do you remember the lightsaber duel in The Empire Strikes Back when Vader says “Luke I am your Father.” It’s one of those classic cinematic moments. I’ve been reading a lot about narratives as I am trying to figure out stories I can express in my own world and I keep on going back to the intimacy of the opponent where the connection between the protagonist and the antagonist is so strong to create those strong threads of motivation for each opposing side.

We live in a world drowning in content, stories of all shapes and sizes, both real and or imagined, fictionalize reality, new worlds and places and this means that the common beats in these narratives become so familiar they are ingrained into our psyche without our even knowing it. It is the promise that is made when we watch an action film, a thriller or a horror story.

Maybe we don’t know the exact names for these beats but we expect them all the same in any story. From the first days when we told stories over a fire or when they passed from person to person changing each time they were told the fundamentals of stories remain the same.

In a lot of stories the intimacy of the opponent manifests as them being related to the protagonist or having a strong link to them. What this does is it makes the stakes personal and adds more importance to the conflict and the confrontation that will determine the end of the story.

My issue is that it is done so often that you wonder why it seems that everyone is related to each other. I am not sure if it takes me out of the story but when it is done so much it becomes hard to suspend my disbelief when I’ve seen this type of thing play out in so many other stories.

I don’t know how I would escalate the stakes without connecting the protagonist and antagonist in such a well known way. I guess I would like them through an event that they experienced or that impacted both of them but set their paths into totally opposite directions.

It is something that I have to think about as I start crafting shorts for the world I’ve envisioned. I don’t know what form the stories will take but I know it doesn’t matter what I write, what matters is I just get started. So here’s to the story’s long and winding road, where it will lead I have no idea but I can’t wait to see what the world I created will become and to share it with people.