The Intimate Opponent

From the day we come into the world to our very last we are inundated with stories, those that find their genesis in millenium past, those told in books, on the news and around a camp fire.

Stories frame how we see the world, they reflect the beginning, middle and end that is life and that is why they are so powerful. In modern stories, especially movies we often have not just an antagonist they are usually tethered to the hero, they are the intimate opponent.

It’s like we start out in a grand universe and as the story moves forward, in some ways it shrinks down to just a handful of people. In order for the story to resonate, in order for the hero’s emotional journey to be powerful the stakes can’t just be raised they are often made personal.

This can often mean the antagonist has some personal connection to the hero. Like Star Wars where Darth Vader was Luke’s father. It happens so often we expect this intimacy and it is done to fuel that emotional struggle. It is why we make the hero suffer, why as the stakes are raised they must fall so they can rise to meet their opponent.

I find that these tropes take me out of the story, that these connections are so common in modern stories that they can feel less like they are meant to fuel the struggle and more they tick a box you as the writer are meant to hit.

How do I create that intimacy without making a grand world feel so very small. In the classic hero’s tale your hero knows their opponent, this makes us feel for them, it takes nebulous and general stakes and gives them personal significance that strikes us in the gut to relate and feel for our hero.

This is what I am struggling with, do I have an intimate opponent or do I start somewhere else. This will depend on the type of story and the characters within it. It is up to how I structure it, introduce the characters and what their motivations are, if I can make them authentic and organic without feeling like I am just fulfilling a set of requirements to make the story.

How do you make something on a path that has been walked by every human being that has ever lived? Is it possible to add a new shade of colour to the story, a new way to see it or am I grasping at a near impossibility?

I don’t know but it is my duty to find out, to keep on finding ways take make my opponent intimate in ways that you don’t expect. Maybe I will use our expectations to go against what you would normally see. I dont know where to go but I do know I must, that I don’t have a choice but to try and no matter if one person reads it or 100 if they can get something out of my story, if the opponent can come off as intimate in unexpected ways then that will be enough.