The iceberg opponent
I’ve been going over the plot for Carrion while skipping through Anatomy of Story by John Truby. In the chapter outlining Twenty-Two-Step Story Structure there is a section called The Iceberg Opponent. Truby argues that in order to make your antagonist as dangerous as possible you should create a hierarchy of opponents and “hide the hierarchy from the hero and the audience.” This worries me slightly because Adam’s opponents aren’t really hidden from him. The only element really hidden from him is the true nature of prohibition. I’m not sure if that’s enough? Adam’s main opponent is Reiner. He’s the one who want’s to stop Adam achieving his desire; save Christine. As the plot develops Adam encounters ever more hostile forces. But the insects, police and military he battles to save Christine are less a hidden opponents and more a hierarchy of force. Why would they hide? As I noted in my previous post “prohibitionist’s aren’t shy about tell us they think users should be killed.” In an earlier chapter of Anatomy of Story, Truby urges you to “always look for the deepest conflict that your hero and opponent are fighting over.” I mentioned this briefly in The antagonist’s antagonist that deep down Adam and Reiner are actually fighting over the kind of society they live in. Which version will prosper? “Will it be a society of freedom ultimately chosen by Adam or will it be a society of security demanded by Reiner?” So this is a fight for freedom or security. And if you dig even deeper security is actually an analogue of power. I often quip prohibition isn’t about public health, it’s about public control. It’s a aphoristic way of saying prohibition is a mechanism used to control the population. Adam’s real opponent, the opponent hidden at the deepest part of the iceberg, is actually power. But not just any power, the power to destroy an entire class of people because they don’t fit their view of how you should live in the world. What Reiner is actually fighting for is tyranny.