I am beginning a revision on my book in the near future, and one area I really need to spend time on is character development. As indicated in previous blogs, while I’m taking time away from my completed first draft to refresh, I am researching the areas that I know need the most attention. So I thought I would take a closer look at my antagonist.
When you are creating an antagonists, you must remember they are people too. Help your reader to empathize with them and understand why they act like they do. Even bad people have weaknesses and can show love towards others. They are more than just a device to move your plot in a certain direction. Flesh them out!
Get into your antagonists head. Help people to see things from his/her point of view if possible. If not, have one of the view point characters mull over and try to understand the antagonists point of view. You don’t want him/her to be seen as pure evil.
It is highly recommended that you don’t use abstractions, such as, corporations, disease, or war as your antagonists. They are unrelatable. One of my antagonists is a medical condition. I do have a character that serves this purpose as well, so I may need to look at shifting some emphasis.
If you do feel the need to use an abstraction, it’s recommended that you put a human face to it. Instead of organized religion you may consider a resentful pastor seeking revenge. Instead of corporate greed, you may consider a Bernie Madoff type.
You want your antagonists to be strong, smart and capable. At least as much so as your protagonist. This serves to give the story balance and maintain interest. It also helps to increase tension and suspense. You know the antagonist is capable of defeating the protagonist. This story could go in many different directions.
Hope this helped you as much as it did me. There is a lot of information on the internet about perfecting your antagonist. The purpose of this blog was to provide you with some useful information and get you thinking about the antagonist in your own novel.
4 thoughts on “Antagonists Are People Too!”
Solid advice here, Jan. Most of my favorite bad guy/girl types are relatable. There are points in the story where I can identify with their motivations. If rendered properly, this should frighten us slightly. The idea we aren’t so different from a villain is a powerful tool for the writer to wield.
Thanks for sharing this with us—I enjoyed reading it 🙂
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I love an antagonist who is good at being bad, clever and witty is the best. I find the more human they are the stronger the hatred is when they pull out the big guns and make a mess trying cause trouble. Nice Post, thanks for the insight.
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Thank You for stopping by 🙂
The best antagonists are the ones who believe they are the hero and what they’re doing is right.
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