Sunday, September 11, 2016

What to do with Antagonists (in general)?

Every hero story has a bad guy in it. The villain.

Harry Potter vs Lord Voldemort
Frodo Baggins vs Sauron
Luke Skywalker vs Darth get the idea.

Watching them from afar is okay. You're not the writer, you don't need to worry about how the villain plays a role in the MC's plotline.

But when you're the writer, you have to think, who are my bad guys? Or,

what the fluff, do I even HAVE a bad guy?

Some stories I've seen don't really have a villain. They have a struggle (of the character with themselves or with their friends because of some kind of change that occurred) or an ambiguous enemy (a.k.a the Government).

In my case with my novel, I had a villain. And then, I wasn't sure if he was a villain. The things he did weren't unreasonable. His motives were understandable. He wasn't some lunatic. He was basically a gray-zone character. Which was good, because you weren't sure if you wanted to like him completely or not. And I'm not sure either so...everything was peachy.

But I have written stories where there was a bad guy and a good guy. Where there was a being attacking another being. AND, a lot of stories I've read had actual bad guys and not that ambiguous enemy.

This brings us do you actually start dealing with the creation of your bad guy?

As they say, there is no darkness without light...or was it the other way around? Anyway, there can't be a bad guy without the presence of a good guy.

So you must make your good guy solid first. I have found that typical good guys have similar traits:

Close in age with the readers' age-base you're going for
Had some kind of struggle
And basically just your average normal good person, but he doesn't have to be a philanthropist or anything.

A bad guy will have all the opposite traits of the good guy:

You hate his/her guts
Age doesn't really matter, you can do whatever age you like
We don't really know his/her back story but his/her ideas about the world should be twisted
Antagonists usually have some kind of selfish drive such as, they want to be rich, they want to rule the world (or just your city), they want revenge it's not even funny, they will do whatever it takes and they don't care if people die

Okay, now you have a character with antagonistic traits. Do a character sketch as detailed as you would your MC because the antagonist will play as much a role in your story as the protagonist even though they are not the main character.

In a sense, the antagonist is part of the plot. He or she is the struggle taken shape that your MC must face up against.

In the actual story, from what I have seen the published pros do, the antagonist makes subtle appearances such as at times when everything is going well. It's just like a smack in face. Everything was so peaceful and nice, you think, until HE (or she) came along! Sheesh! :/

But, here's what you don't want to do with antagonists. Have a whole entire chapter or scene just for them. Remember who your MC is. Your MC is the good guy. Put all the spotlight on him/her. What you must do is just weave the antagonist throughout the story. Just sprinkle them in here and there without revealing them until near the end where the climax of the story should be.

Also, you can give false alarm. Such as, make something happen to the MC that looks like one person did it when it was actually the antagonist. Fool the reader into thinking along with the MC that this person is the true antagonist when it is actually someone else. Shannon Hale did that very well in her Books of Bayern.

River Secrets, another great Shannon Hale read.
Another thing you can do is just play around with his/her existence. I have to play around with my antagonist a lot because even I'm not entirely sure if he is entirely bad. And...I'm over the half-way mark in my story. I need to choose! :0

The important thing is to not give too much spotlight to your antagonist otherwise the reader will be completely lost as to who the heck the MC is and why there so much evil in here???

Of course horror stories could be different dealing with antagonists. I'm not an expert there but I would guess antagonists could share as much spotlight as protagonists.

If you have any more character questions, ask below and I may just address them in this blog :)

Happy writing! :D

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