Friday, January 28, 2011

Antagonists

Your main character has a goal, and now you need to find someone who's going to keep them from achieving that goal. An antagonist, a villain.

Now, it's possible that all your secondary characters will play the antagonist role at some point in the story. That they'll somehow mess things up for your MC (main character). But you should have one or two in particular who's really trying to get in the way.

Like if you're writing a book about an investigator tracking down a serial killer, your main villain would be the killer. (Generally speaking, anyway.) But there also might be another antagonist on the police force. Someone who's on the same side of the law as your MC, but who isn't listening to his or her ideas, who's slowing down the investigation. Does that make sense?

Developing your antagonist or your villain requires as much care as developing your main character. I hear lots of agents and editors talk about 1-dimensional villains. Don't let them say this about yours.

The exercises we talked about for secondary characters can go a long way in developing your villain. Give them a back story, find those personality traits that seem to be in conflict with each other, and make sure they have their own goal.

The biggest thing, I think, is make your villain active. It's not enough for them to simply sit in the corner, twirl their mustache, and give the occasional evil laugh. They need to be doing things. They need to be taking matters into their own hands and working to take down your MC.

And I'm not just talking about villains like The Joker. Often the most powerful villain is someone your MC considers to be a close friend. In Me, Just Different, the villain is Skylar's best friend. Jodi works hard to take Skylar out of the picture. (Of their social circle, that is.)

Next Monday there'll be a new writing prompt (yay!) and then on Wednesday we'll start talking about settings.

Oooh, one more thing. Huge thanks to Nicole McLaughlin for designing a beautiful new banner for Go Teen Writers! It looks so chic, as my 3-year-old would say.

Have a great weekend guys!

13 comments:

  1. Love a good villain. Mwa ha ha ha. ;-)

    I had an interesting quirk in my WIP, in that my hero is the antagonist for my heroine in the first part, one of her friends is antagonizing him once he gets his gear together and realizes it's time to be hero, and then people they both respect and admire are going to take on the role once they get squared away with the friend. It's like musical villain-chairs. =)

    Oh, and there's the evil cousin, of course. We can't forget her, but she just gets the ball rolling.

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  2. I love the new look! But I have to say, I 've never heard of a 3 yo that says chic... ;)

    In the book I'm revising right now, the "villain" thinks he's doing the MC good... Plus he's handsome, smart, popular... I actually like him. Plus in the sequel (my characters tell me I have to write one) he's a good guy!

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  3. I absolutely LOVE the new header. It's perfect!
    Ooh, antagonists. I so gotta create mine.

    One thing I always do when I'm writing is... get sick of my idea, save what I've written on word... and never look back.

    But in November 2009, I wrote a novel for NaNo -- with no plot at all -- but I was thinking last night, "Why don't I re-write it?" My characters are hardly real, nothing makes sense -- but I like the idea of where my story takes place, and I can't wait to develop my characters and change the old story.

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  4. i love the banner!!!! its so cool! i also went under Nicole's blogspot, and her banner is sweet too.

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  5. Musical villain chairs - I love it!

    McKenna has just recently learned the word "chic." She's not quite sure how to use it, though. A couple nights ago she came downstairs while I was making dinner and said, "Mmm, Mom. Those meatballs are so chic."

    Emii, I've got lots of stories in my file like that too. Pull it back out! You never know what'll spark.

    And, Ariana, that's actually how Nicole wound up doing my banner, because I complimented hers :)

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  6. When will you be releasing the results for the contest Stephanie?

    Villains are actually kind of difficult to create... I find myself leaving them out a lot of the time. =/ I need to work on creating a better background for a certain villain of mine, and a better personality than evil grins and mutated faces...

    I have a question, does anybody else tend to make ugly unattractive villains??
    Because I've just been having second thoughts about a certain one, he's old and mutated.
    Does anybody ever create beautiful but evil characters?
    I'd think that would be more... tempting, to say the least. Like Satan, he tempts you with attractive things and it turns out being bad.

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  7. Hey Jazmine,
    Well after reading this post, I started to create my "villain". Okay, so she's really this girl whose like, jealous or something --of my main character. But she's going to be pretty, I suppose. I find it hard trying to find ways to picture my characters. It's times like these when I wish I could draw! I just want to SEE them, not hear what colour their hair and eyes are and what they're wearing! I thought of looking up famous people and basing it on them, but... I don't know.

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  8. Emii,

    if you go to deviantart.com its actually a great place to find pictures of no one in particular to fit your character.
    Me and my two writer friends have done that for a long time. =)
    Its a really cool sight, and it has some of the most amazing photography on it.
    If you type in like "brown haired guy" or something like that you can look through the pictures and find one you like of a guy (or girl) who is close in appearance to your character.
    Sometimes you do have to look at the pictures for a while, but its worth it. =)
    And when you do find one you like, you can click on the name of the user on deviantart who has that picture in their gallery and they often have more pictures of the same person.
    Its really handy =D
    Not to mention you can find other things like pictures of flowers... forests... horses... anything =)

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  9. Jazmine-
    Like I mentioned, my antagonist is a cool guy, and just trying to be nice! I do think it's hard to think of him as a "villain" though, because of it.

    Do you (mrs. Morril or anyone else...) think that it's important to single out a character who is the antagonist? Or is it ok for the antagonist to be an idea?

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  10. Oh, Jordan, I just realized I never responded to you! Boo for me. Let me think about that and get back to you.

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  11. Sorry, I know this comment is way after the time of this post, but I was just think that in the book I'm writing at the moment, my villain is the main character's BROTHER. When I first started writing this book, I didn't plan to have them be related, but then I realized that, since there's so much mystery behind where Ryan came from, that it would work perfectly. Anyway, the brother (who's name is, coincidentally, Rayn), is an actual sociopath, and in the beginning, the two actually hate each other, Rayn hates that everyone is so drawn to Ryan, while he has to manipulate for it, and Ryan hates Rayn because of all the emotions and fear he put him through. At the end, though, Ryan learns to pity, rather than hate, because Rayn is still wallowing in his hatred. (sorry, long post)

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  12. So I am writing a story about a girl whose sister was killed in a fire. She is really depressed about her sister's death. Would the bad guy be the people who caused the fire that killed her sister, or would it be someone who encourages her depressed attitude?

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