1. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    Brainstorming an Antagonist

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Tenelen, Dec 27, 2011.

    Hello everybody!

    This may sound odd, but I have outlined nearly the entirety of a story I am working on. My only problem: I still don't know who or what my antagonist is going to be. I was hoping to brainstorm some ideas with everybody here to see if we could come up with an interesting idea. I have run through a bunch of different ideas that I thought didn't go well with my story. Sorry for the length of this post (tl;dr version below).

    I'm going to try to give you all a few ideas to what exactly is going on in my story:
    My main character was living a happy, simple life in a small village with his family and love interest when a mysterious creature came to his village to destroy it. The village burned down and while it happened the main character ran into the creature. He creature spoke to him, already knowing the main characters name and it is implied that the only reason he is at the village is to find the main character.

    The main character panics, and a voice inside his head speaks to him telling him that it's not his time to die. He lost control of his body and grabbed the neck of the creature. Black streams of energy under his skin start to squirm up his arm from the center of the body and eventually reach his arm were they start to rip and tear at his skin until they finally burst through his skin and dug themselves into the neck of the creature, slowing draining it's life force into my main characters body.

    He is stunned and unaware of what has happened. What we later find out is that his newfound "power" or "curse" gives him different magical powers but at the cost of the only way to gain power is to absorb souls. The plot that I am going with is a Plot of the Mind. My character is conflicted for many reasons; first off, in the back of his mind he is still unaware of what happened to his family and love interest (if they are dead or not), but more importantly is the conflict going on within his body and mind. There is a voice in his mind that is linked to his new power; this voice is telling him to kill and trying to control his body. This is against his morals, but he is starting to realize that it might be the only way for him to become stronger.

    Some ideas that I have thought about doing:
    -There is an ultimate (nearly god like) being that is controlling the events that happen in the world around my main character. The only reason that he has his powers is because this being wanted him to; the being's ultimate goal was to end up controlling my main character because the power ends up corrupting him. It doesn't work out the way the being plans, and my main character ends up turning against the being. (PS: The being is trying to save the world)
    -My main character embraces the fact that he gains stronger by killing and absorbing souls and finds a way to do such that is "less" against his morals. He becomes a "hitman" under apprenticeship to a hitman that he runs into in his travels. He gains strength until a hit goes wrong and he is kidnapped and nearly killed. There was an ambush. I'm not sure why still.

    Now the questions that need to be answered:
    Where did his power come from?
    What does he have to defeat?
    What is the main character's goal?
    Do you see a potential for this story that I am looking over?
    What/Who is the antagonist?

    tl;dr version:
    Create a bad guy.

    Thank you ahead of time for any ideas or input you have to help me out.
     
  2. Rafiki
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    Rafiki Active Member

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    I like it, I've always been a sucker for internal struggles.

    It seems to me that you are in the unique position of being able to make the protagonist into his own antagonist. The main villain doesn't even have to be something as tangible as his Mr. Hyde, it can be something as simple as his initial horror at the requirements for his power. The story can be about his struggle to find another way of growing stronger, and his slow slide into depravity and madness as he succumbs to his thirst for power. Of course in that situation a secondary villain, something tertiary and external, might be called for. Something to give the main characters search for power meaning. Perhaps a threat to his family, an evil oppressive overlord or a dickish neighbor.

    As for what he has to defeat; his own weakness and his lust for power. Try to keep the struggle internal using the external situation to further cast light on the internal struggle. At least thats how I would do it, but then again I take sick pleasure in messing with my characters heads.
     
  3. Ross M Kitson
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    Ross M Kitson Member

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    In a twist on above you could have all your MCs bad traits manifest as an evil creation whom he has to defeat/accept in order to be whole again. Perhaps it is precipitated by some guilt from the past, say he was having an affair before his family/wife disappeared. You could leave that revelation for your climax? Saying that the mentor hitman idea is fairly cool too.
     
  4. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    Thanks to both of you for your input. Rafiki I definitely like the idea of having my main character himself be both protagonist and antagonist. I want to convey as much struggle as I can, both internally and externally. I want to eventually have him overcome his struggle, but through it all have regrets for things he did. I'm not sure if I want him to feel as if he has "paid for his sins" but I want him to at least have changed his life from: no power, struggle and lust for power, to control of power. I might even add a relapse to lust for power phase in there.

    I think I would love to create an external conflicting character (or even an overall idea that externalizes his struggle), but I want that character to be something different from the normal. I was thinking about doing oppressive overlord but I felt that was almost too much for this situation.

    Ross M Kitson, I do enjoy your idea of having his problems be external characters. It both reminds me of the Anime Bleach, and the Anime Princess TuTu. I'm not sure if you are aware of what those are, but I might try to work something into the story like that. I had thought about using this idea before (at least the power being manifested into an external character to symbolize his struggle within) but I wasn't sure how I would write it.
     
  5. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I like the idea of man struggling with his own super powers. Maybe you could bring in an "oppressive overlord" somewhere in the first half of the story as a secondary antagonist, giving your MC both a direct opposition and also to foreshadow what he might eventually become if he succumbs to his newly gained powers. And you must decide where you want to lead your story - is he going to "fall to the Dark Side" in some sort of cynical anticlimax, or is he actually going to redeem himself. This is a big question that I think you have to decide in advance: the story could take forever to unfold if you don't know where you're going with it.

    Some ideas:

    His power has something to do with his "love interest" - maybe it comes out from his guilt, as a manifestation of inner conflict after he did something he perceives as immoral. Maybe he raped the girl, or he seduced her, or broke some other local taboo. This revelation might come in the story's climax, or even the epilogue.
    There must be something in the way he uses his power that makes him want to do it more. Is he a sociopath secretly enjoying the pain he inflicts his victims? Maybe he is aware of this from the beginning, but the reader only gradually discovers it.
     
  6. Ettina
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    Ettina Active Member

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    What if he's set up to think there's an evil overlord, but actually the guy is a decent ruler making hard decisions? And the protagonist was being set up to overthrow him to become an evil overlord under the control of whoever gave him those powers?

    With that thought, what if the guys who attacked his village were sent by the supposedly evil overlord because he'd figured out what the protagonist was going to become? They were supposed to just quietly slip in and kill him without hurting anyone else, and make it look like an accident. But the god-thingy made things go wrong somehow (influencing the minions, maybe?) so that they killed a whole pile of people and didn't kill the protagonist.

    Oh, one last thought - what if this sort of thing happens on a regular basis? Every few generations this god-thing starts to corrupt someone, and either that person dies before reaching full power, or they eventually become an evil overlord and cause suffering for everyone until some hero takes them down.
     
  7. Similyn
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    Similyn Member

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    The first thought that came to mind for me was what if the beast he kills is actually either himself from the future, or a manifestation/separation of himself, sent back to stop himself from becoming what he had become? That is, if you want to deal with time travel stuff. Other antagonists can still come into play as far as directing him into a role they would want him to fill for their own ends.
     
  8. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    That is a very interesting concept that I was actually thinking about. I was thinking about seeing if I could turn that beast into something that was actually there to help him, and maybe he actually didn't kill it.

    Great ideas guys! I would love to hear some more. The only reason I say that is because none of these ideas have really "clicked" into something that makes me go, "That's it!" and I am still looking for that.
     
  9. blandmanblind
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    blandmanblind Member

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    While reading what you wrote I also considered the monster he was fighting could turn out to be (a part of) him.

    I have three ideas for you:


    1.) A crusading Hero Antagonist. A person that is going around trying to kill off these people that are stealing souls for magic. The more you make this antagonist the all-white wearing, Superman morality, sparkling teeth, and insufferably smug/fearless goody-goody the better. Especially if under it all, they really turn out to be a Knight Templar.

    2.) Another person just like the protagonist, but who is far more casual about how and who he kills to gain his magic (Evil Counterpart). Perhaps, his wife thinks the protagonist is dead and tried to move on, and he ends up finding her married to this antagonist. Still further, maybe the antagonist realizes the wife’s connection to another magic-wielder and is using her and the family as bait.

    3.) If you go with the “hitman” plot, then the mentor (Evil Mentor) could become the antagonist. Say if their guild was on the ropes financially, and they really needed this one big job done, and he sends the protagonist to do it despite it being the type he would never do, because, though the mentor has dealt with his “personal code” up til this point, the protagonist's magic is the only thing that could pull the job off. When he fails to do the job, the mentor is honor bound to hunt him down and execute him for the betrayal.​
     
  10. Tenelen
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    Tenelen Member

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    Wow. Those three ideas are fantastic and actually gave me an idea. I am thinking that I might combine ideas one and three into a sort of 'best of both plots' idea. My character finds he has these powers, doesn't understand why, etc. etc. The Evil Mentor eventually finds him (he seeks out those with powers) and tells my main character that he can help him train and gain powers, and also help him get revenge on the people who burned his village. My main character agrees and the Evil Mentor helps me track down any with 'Evil intentions' with their powers so that he can kill them. He goes around for a while killing off some of the 'Evil' characters but learns little to no information, just minor details about the one who burned the village.

    He gets sent on a particularly interesting hunt one time, against a character that (I'm thinking is going to be known in the world as good, but my mentor tells me has turned Evil). I go to kill this person and I torture them for some information (as usual) and they scream out accusing my Evil Mentor as being the one who burned the village down.

    At this point I make a pact to hunt down my Evil Mentor, but do to the nature of our relationship (I want to build a Father/Son relationship up with them) it makes it extremely difficult.

    Edit: I am probably going to add in a little more aspects of the Evil Mentor into the story having him teach my Main Character some sort of forbidden or immoral magic. My main character will pledge to himself to never use it; but in the final fight he might lose control and use it.

    Thank you so much!
     
  11. AmsterdamAssassin
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    AmsterdamAssassin Contributing Member

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    Simply put, the antagonist is the same as the protagonist, but with conflicting interests. In his own mind, the antagonist is actually the protagonist in his own story...
     
  12. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    perhaps this magical power itself can become the antagonist of this person. as he uses it, he slowly loses his sanity, going in between worlds from the actual real world, to the world of his nightmares that his insanity has driven him to create. and as he begins to use this power more often for more and more missions, the real world slowly starts fading away and he descends further and further into the nightmarish world, so it therefore becomes in his best interest to get rid of this curse/power as quickly as possibly before he loses all sight of the real world.
     
  13. hoggyboy
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    hoggyboy Senior Member

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    ....and of course his deteriorating sanity can be a sideline thing that is happening to the protagonist and might be some weakness he develops when he comes to face the actual antagonist or something

    anyway good luck with it!
     
  14. kablooblab
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    kablooblab Member

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    Alot of people seem to be suggesting ways to make him get rid of the evil power. But I think it would be totally unexpected and uncliche if he loses his internal battle and the power consumes him. Making the only thing he cares for is obtaining more and more souls.
     
  15. Betrayal
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    Betrayal New Member

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    Where did his power come from?
    I know the beginning of the story you shouldn't have a backstory because that is the absolute worst. You can however hint that there is something special about this character. Like he had eyes of different colour, like normal brown/blue on one side and red on the other. You could even do something like a prophecy or a riddle conjured up by a fate deity etc..
    His power on the other hand can be hard to find an origin. It could be that he was once, was the son of a god, however his father heard a prophecy or saw something in this child he was so afraid of, so that he abandoned him on some hostile place like the mountains, and somehow this kid as a baby released his powers and found his way into this village onto a doorstop of a family with a barren mother. They raise him up, he is normal like every other child.

    After he kills the monster and the village was completely ravaged, he could have a flashback or a vision into the future of which he couldn't control, with that he sees fragments of memories.

    What does he have to defeat?
    If it was an internal struggle then I would think that he has to defeat the monster inside of him. The monster could've started out just as a protective charm for this child, but over time it has grown conscious inside this character.
    It could be that the only way to stop this monster was to kill himself, but he his flesh was immune to the normal ways and he has to find other ways to do so.
    Another way to kill this monster was perhaps for him to truly fall in love or something.
    Basically what you could be looking for is enlightenment inside.

    What is the main character's goal?
    If he was an anti hero protagonist, then it could be to destroy himself or find an opponent, someone who could destroy him.
    Another goal would be to delve into his past and answer the questions of why he is like this.

    Do you see a potential for this story that I am looking over?
    Yes, I personally do, I've done of these things before for my GCSE's and it's quite rewarding at the end if you put the time and commitment into editing it.

    What/Who is the antagonist?
    The Antagonist is obviously the monster inside him.
    I could be the person or an item that binds him to this curse.

    I hope this helps, if only a little.
     

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