IS IT A PERSON, PLACE, OR THING?
What do you think of when you hear the word Antagonist? Is s/he strong, weak or neutral?
I always think of a formidable foe, ONE who antagonizes their opponent so badly that you wish they were dead…or at least so far away from you, you never encounter them ever again. Someone like Satan comes to mind. Someone or something that blocks you from doing what you want to do. Satan is the main Antagonist of EVERY Christian in the world, and he‘s invisible - a spirit being and powerful.
No one could have thought Satan up. He is unthinkable in his actions and deeds, and the basis of all the evil that writers, and storytellers from century to century think up and instill in their characters creation and development. He harbors no regrets and in the movie, The Devils Advocate, Satan professed to be 'a fan of man'. The Joker….The Predator, The Terminator, The Wolf at grandma’s house, The Scarlet Letter - A, The Lottery, Drugs and Alcohol, Your Brain on drugs and alcohol, Your Family, You.
All of these people, places and things have the potential to be strong Antagonists. We need to know them as well as we know the Hero (protagonist), so that what they do and what we watch them do is believable to us and works in the creation of your stories world. Like Satan works in the creation of our world. He literally tried to destroy it by ridding it of humans.
Have you ever thought of an antagonist as a Drug or a drug like Neutralizing Agent that neutralizes the effect of a substance on the body. You know what, I like the definition of an Antagonist being a drug, because the neutralizing effect can be both positive and negative - depending on your frame of mind or perspective. Which means that all antagonists that oppose or conflict with your protags plans don’t necessarily have to be bad or negative, like satan. Some antagonists can be good for you. As long as It creates conflict, and it propels, moves and drives the story along.
The Antagonist might be your subconscious, for instance. It warns you of the consequences and impending dangers of your actions, and tries to neutralize your desire to act on a thing that may be harmful or toxic, or it can drive you crazy with conflict. In storytelling, the protagonist needs conflict which is usually in the form of another person, but a drug or a conscience... a strong minded conscience- encountering your work or actions - can be just as impelling and just the right character-source for your piece. Something conspiring AGAINST your plan and that counters it - is all you really need. Then you flesh it out. It doesn't have to have eyes or hands, but it should have teeth... that bite...story wise.
How strong is your Antagonist? Does s/he have any redeeming qualities? Do you plot your Antagonist out and profile them just as carefully as you do your main character and Hero? Should you? I say yes, because in the character development stage of a story, the Hero is only as powerful and commanding as the Anti Hero…or Antagonist.
Be it a disease, a nagging cough from a virile-virus or an ugly villain with a ponytail. Knowing the ins and outs of the Antagonist, and how s/he are in opposition to the Hero or main character is crucial to the development of your plot, structure, and the protags ability to counteract the conflict. It also makes for a fascinating read.
Q. What do all Antagonists in the movies and in books tend to have in common?
A. In the majority of cases_ its an evil person. Do something different! Don’t get hung up on all Antagonists being only persons. Create IT no matter what form it takes, (animate or inanimate). Execute IT- on your protagonist... with a vengeance.
Write stuff-Write now.
Book Reviewer Disclaimer: Writestuff-writenow.blogspot.com receives books free or in a downloaded PDF format-for the express purpose of providing a book review at no charge. The opinions expressed in book reviews are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the (FTC) Federal Trade Commission, 16 CFR, part 255. WriteStuff-WriteNow, Antoinette "Toni" McKain. All Rights Reserved. Copyright 2010-2012 A division of GACM Inc..