On the Subject of Antagonists

by margaretvinshire

Subtitle: And why it’s so much easier to create a protagonist than one of those guys.Image

Note: I have also long since come to the conclusion that the entire book is out for your soul and won’t stop until it eats a good portion of it. Perhaps that’s why it’s so dang horrid when you get rejected.

And… back to the subject.

Antagonists. The Bad Guy. The Darth Vader of your story. (LAWYERS. Don’t eat me, please! I DO NOT OWN Darth Vader. I am not claiming that I do! ) The reason your protagonist is in pain. The reason your protagonist had to leave his happy life of coffee and donuts (yes, I know, I’m making wild assumptions here) to go out into reality.

The Antagonist must be a compelling character – whether he is the bad guy that knows what he does is wrong but does it anyway, or the bad guy who thinks he’s right.

And that’s why it sucks in the process of creating one. They have to have just the right balance between good and evil or else he will come off as a misguided good guy or a guy in the grey. Maybe it’s just me, but I like my bad guys really really bad.

I also prefer my bad buys irrevocably bad – very rarely do I like ‘redeemed’ bad guys – but the choice must be made either way.

However, most people recommend that you give the Bad guy a ‘good’ trait – to make them a more tragic and realistic character.

With all those things pressing in on your mind, it’s no wonder why people might prefer to make protagonists. All you have to do is slap together all these wonderful traits and a flaw or two and you’re done! (Well, no, not really. Seriously guys and gals, for the love of all that is good and holy, don’t do that!)

I will admit that I have failed in an aspect in the creation of my bad guy – I didn’t gift him with any good traits – but I also view him as more of a physical representation of my real antagonist.

For you see, actual creature bad guys (I’d say human, but this is fiction. Alien bad guys and the EVIL BEAR OF DEATH are possible bad guys that fit under the same category as human.) are only one side of the coin. Sometimes one of the major antagonists is actually a part of the protagonist himself – whether a moral or mental struggle.

Usually the combination of the two mentioned above makes a fantastic story.

Sometimes the Antagonist is the setting – say a hurricane or an earthquake or even society as a whole.

The last example I mentioned, however, I think fits under another category of antagonist better.

The Theme Antagonist.

So, quicky definition for those who don’t know what a Theme is – a Theme is a idea that reappears consistently in a piece of art or literature.

In this case, my real antagonist is the Theme. (Extreme hate and a desire for revenge is mine)

I can’t give you the perfect recipe for the perfect Antagonist, whether natural disaster or a black widow (yes, I would consider a mound of black widows to be a perfectly acceptable antagonist.) or human but I hope this basic information can help, somehow.

And I’ll leave you with this question – what is the better (human) antagonist? The one who does bad even while knowing what he’s doing is bad, or the one who thinks he’s right? If you can, please tell me in the comments and why you think this is so.

Sorry today’s post wasn’t as funny folks – though it’s entirely possible I’ve never been funny and now you sit there rolling your eyes.