1. Albirich
    Offline

    Albirich Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Norway

    How do you go about portraying your antagonist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Albirich, Feb 17, 2014.

    I rather prefer my antagonists grey themed, good and bad, as realistically I can do it.
    For example I have one character (only one) that I refer to as antagonist, we do see his soft sides and we understand why he does what he do, but his extreme actions just makes it so he has to go. I think this is what makes a grey antagonist, though the why part will determine whether he is good or badly written.

    Pure antagonistic characters can be good, but it is extremely difficult to portrait in the time we are in now. (So much have been done already, and the dark lord type is getting overused)

    What is your view on antagonist(s) and how to portray them & create them etc?
     
  2. Renee J
    Offline

    Renee J Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2013
    Messages:
    463
    Likes Received:
    214
    Location:
    Reston, VA
    I don't have a single antogonist for the whole story. Instead, I have various people who get in the way. They aren't evil or even the bad guy.
     
  3. DeathandGrim
    Offline

    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    540
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    My Antagonist is short and sweet all out evil it's the message behind his evil that's up for debate.
    I want to my audience to have a clear vision on who's doing the bad but why will leave them questioning.
     
  4. Albirich
    Offline

    Albirich Active Member

    Joined:
    Oct 31, 2013
    Messages:
    182
    Likes Received:
    35
    Location:
    Norway
    An antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be evil, but he is the person that gets in the way, as you said.
     
  5. Herbert H Hebert
    Offline

    Herbert H Hebert Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Many places around the world
    I've know some pure evil types in my time. It's sad that evil has been caricatured and made to seem trite. Would you consider trying to portray pure evil realistically?

    I find it hard to take a nuanced villain seriously, maybe because of my life experiences. In real life, they're just not as much of a threat. They pull their punches, or they get all remorseful and lay off. What's there for a hero to do when the villain just isn't that into it?
     
  6. Herbert H Hebert
    Offline

    Herbert H Hebert Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Many places around the world
    Why would someone who is not evil present a serious difficulty, unless the hero is the evil one?

    Stupid people get in the way a lot, but it's easy to deal with them as long as you're willing to do what it takes. Ruthlessness trumps obtuseness. Maybe a hero can struggle with his own sentimentality to the extent that he enables the problem person. In that case, the problem person isn't the real antagonist. The real antagonist is internal.
     
  7. D.C. Perry
    Offline

    D.C. Perry Member

    Joined:
    Feb 16, 2014
    Messages:
    23
    Likes Received:
    4
    Location:
    Blackfoot, ID, U.S.A.
    I very rarely have a black/white good-or-bad thing going on. Maybe at first, but in the end, everyone is usually a complete and utter psychopath in their own ways . . . .
     
  8. AlannaHart
    Offline

    AlannaHart Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2014
    Messages:
    367
    Likes Received:
    201
    Location:
    Australia
    No one is the villain of their own story. No matter how evil someone seems, they believe what they are doing is right, even if it's only the right thing for themselves. No one does anything to be evil. Stories where the antagonist is portrayed this way are ridiculous. It doesn't require pure evil to be ruthless.
     
  9. Mic.Henry
    Offline

    Mic.Henry Member

    Joined:
    Feb 1, 2014
    Messages:
    26
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Canada
    The best villains have no idea that they are the villain.
     
  10. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    What you say reminds me of the Joker from The Dark Knight. Excellent movie btw.

    To the OP: I am like you, I prefer grey-themed "villains". Everyone's got a reason and everything looks "good" from that person's perspective - it just depends on what matters to you and what your basic assumptions in life are. Don't get me wrong, I do believe in absolute truth, and I believe in a moral black and white, but I dunno, understanding is the beginning of compassion, of forgiveness, of kindness, of the shedding of prejudice, and I'd rather see through my enemy's eyes in order that I might see him as my fellow man rather than a monster. Or at least, that's what I'm striving towards. I believe the villains I create reflect this.

    How I portrayed my villain. Not got a clue. My villain wants to merge the world of the dead and the living and reign over mankind, in order to restore hope to the dead who've lost their chance at life, restore them to their homes, and in order that no one else ever needs to wander in the wilderness of the Underworld, which my villain has experienced first hand. He thinks he's giving them a second chance. Is that evil?

    And now, if only I knew how to portray this grey stuff better, I'd probably be able to finish my damn novel.
     
  11. Jak of Hearts
    Offline

    Jak of Hearts Member

    Joined:
    Dec 22, 2013
    Messages:
    77
    Likes Received:
    32
    Location:
    Topeka, Kansas
    I also prefer grey area villains. Mck, it's funny you mentionyour villain because mine in my current pRoject is under the same goal, to raise all dead, bridging the gap between life and death, so that no one has to live without loved ones again. He actually has a more strict moral code than my MCs, but has to be stopped or the entire world will turn to chaos. I like my villains to be sympathetic.
     
  12. peachalulu
    Offline

    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

    Joined:
    May 20, 2012
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    2,382
    Location:
    occasionally Oz , mainly Canada
    Depends. Each story is different. In one of my novels the villain is a child molester, drug dealer, ladies man, a master manipulator and deadly. He drowns a man with a jug of booze, spur of the moment, because the man said something he didn't like. And that's the least of his crimes. His two weakness are the child/girl he thinks he 'loves' and a fortune-teller's premonition that keeps him paranoid. There's nothing gray about this man. He enjoys doing wrong. But he's not a cartoon character, and I don't have to cue the villain music so to speak when he arrives on scene. I think that's the trouble with some writers when they approach the antagonist is to overstock the scenario. What will make the villain is not just his crimes or actions, but what he doesn't do and what he doesn't say. It's like this true crime novel I read about a woman who survives a fire with two kids trapped in the house, as they're questioning her about the fire, she never once asks how her kids are or if they're alive, making her rightfully the number one suspect. She was later found guilty - based on not just what she said or did - but what she didn't say or do.


    In my other novel, my antagonist is more subtle. He's powerful and nice & generous when he wants to be, but he's subverting my mc from his goal and everything he is, is what my mc strives against. He's an antagonist by viewpoint.
     
  13. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,685
    Likes Received:
    1,079
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    It's often said, "We all want the same things," so, ergo, we should all get along. But some of the strongest antagonisms rise out of the fact that two competitors do want the same thing!
     
  14. Herbert H Hebert
    Offline

    Herbert H Hebert Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Many places around the world
    I'm not sure what point you're trying to make here. Anyway, I have known people who genuinely seem to delight in evil, as if it's a power trip.

    Recommended reading: People of the Lie by M. Scott Peck.
     
  15. HarleyQ.
    Offline

    HarleyQ. Just a Little Pit Bull (female)

    Joined:
    Sep 9, 2013
    Messages:
    221
    Likes Received:
    58
    Location:
    Gotham
    One of my antagonists is only 'evil' because he's trying to kill my MC. (To him, the death is justifiable, and to a lot of other people it is, too.)

    Another (from the same book) isn't evil at all; he simply gets in the way of everything MC tries to do. Also, while he doesn't emotionally hurt her, he plays a part in keeping her stuck in a very dangerous mental state.

    To answer the question you asked, I portray my ant. as the kind of person they are. All characters must be well-rounded or else the story carries no depth, and the antagonists are no exception.
     
  16. Acanthophis
    Offline

    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 11, 2011
    Messages:
    598
    Likes Received:
    330
    Location:
    Canada
    I like to make my antagonists some of the most humane people. Most of my writing doesn't involve good or evil, but difference of opinion/ideology (although I do try to realistic implement a few people who are essentially good/bad by nature). So I've got some pretty neat antagonists who might actually resonate more with certain people than the actual protagonists. I'm really trying to capture how the difference of opinion can define a person, and how it can drive them to change the world or help keep it the same, breaking relationships and creating new ones along the way. On the other hand, I'm also exploring what it takes to essentially break a person down and change their view of the world. A lot of my antagonists were once protagonists, and vice versa. One of my main goals is to introduce an ideal with the main protagonist and see if I can change their view as the plot progresses, maybe making them seem more eye-to-eye with the antagonist instead.

    I kind of went off on a tangent there, sorry. :p
     
  17. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    It depends. All the main antagonists are buttoned up suits and believe in promoting their side above all others to the point of subverting others. The secondary antagonist, who is actually an ally and the influence character, dresses for the occasion, usually silks and satins.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
  18. Herbert H Hebert
    Offline

    Herbert H Hebert Member

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2014
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    3
    Location:
    Many places around the world
    There are three types of ambiguous characters:

    1. A person who is in transition between one mode of being and another. His ambiguity is temporary, the blurriness of something not yet fully formed. This is my favorite type, both because he's interesting and because his development process can drive the plot.

    2. A cipher, whose true nature is hidden from the observer. The ambiguity is the surface appearance, not necessarily innate. He is either:

    2a) deceitful, and so most likely evil, or at best a fraud, or else...

    2b) a being so advanced as to be beyond our comprehension.

    3. A mental mediocrity who is unable to form clear concepts in his head.

    2a and 3 are not mutually exclusive. Combine the two and you have a postmodernist pseudo-intellectual hipster douche with a degree in Critical Macrame Theory Studies. That's not much of an antagonist, though. More like comic relief.

    2a is one of my favorite types of antagonist. The hero's need to penetrate this ambiguity -- pitted against the antagonist's need to maintain the defensive smoke screen -- can drive the plot.

    3 cannot be an antagonist because he's not enough of a challenge to the hero. He's nothing more than an obstacle.

    1 works better as a protagonist than as an antagonist.
     
  19. Lae
    Offline

    Lae Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2013
    Messages:
    508
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    UK
    multiple greys with one overarching grey. I like the manipulative type that i hope to fool the reader and everyone else with his or her antics. I like complex motives that change with the story.
     
  20. Uberwatch
    Offline

    Uberwatch Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 26, 2013
    Messages:
    257
    Likes Received:
    38
    Location:
    Los Angeles, California
    I always keep villains complex but I originally write them black and white. So maybe my villain starts out a homicidial maniac but I always want to delve deeper into the mind, trying to rationalize his or her's actions. Even show some sympathy to the reader/audience.

    I also do the same for the protagonist. He/she may start out as the person you're rooting for, but he/she could do morally questionable thing. In the end, it puts realism on all your characters instead of going for a good vs evil approach.

    It's like that in real life. Let's say you are bullied by someone. In your eyes, you see that bully nothing more than evil but someone else would see him/her as the coolest person ever. That's because it depends on how the bully acts around others. Same for villains. A villain may be menacing to the main character but could be pretty laid-back or calm around other characters. Of course the supporting characters could be sub-villains to the protagonist as well.
     
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  21. Sup3rl1sh
    Offline

    Sup3rl1sh New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2014
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Newcastle upon Tyne
    Villains are my favourite.

    The storyline of the novel I'm currently writing (my first, since various fan fiction in my early teens) has been put on hold due to my wanting to solidify what my villain is all about. He was initially meant to be a sub-plot; a device with which to aid my MC, but I'm so enamoured by the prospect of creating something evil, that I've got carried away with his development. At the expense of almost every other facet of the book.

    My problem is that my favourite villains are those that are villainous beyond doubt. Like The Terminator, for example (I hope I won't get beaten away with a stick for selecting a character from cinema, rather than literature). Maybe I could use Roger from Lord of the Flies, as a more kosher example. Both of those are so unquestionably bad, without a chink in their 'evil' armour (can a robot be evil? That's one for another day). That's the kind of villain I'm really drawn to as a reader/viewer; that's what I want to create and that's what I want my MC to overcome.

    But it's a bit one-dimensional and, dare I say, less readable.

    Is there still a role for the uncompromisingly evil antagonist in modern fiction?
     
  22. Simpson17866
    Offline

    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2013
    Messages:
    1,755
    Likes Received:
    1,296
    @Sup3rl1sh 1) Good stories are good stories, and it doesn't matter what medium they come from, and 2) the most recent Posthumous Academy Award was given to an actor (Heath Ledger) who played the kind of villain that you're describing, so yes, it can work, and the story can be amazing for it.

    Most "uncompromisingly evil antagonists" are mocked by audiences for being incompetent. Those villains choose to be evil and then do something stupid on grounds that it's evil, as opposed to choosing to be smart and then doing something evil on grounds that it's smart. This creates the impression that villains can either choose to be smart OR evil, and that the most competent villains are the ones who are not completely evil in the first place.

    This is a False Dilemma. Christopher Nolan's and Heath Ledger's Joker proved that for all of the world to see, and if you think that you can make the same kind of villain that they did, then go ahead and run with it. You could even look up TV Tropes "Complete Monster" to get more examples than I could list here.
     
  23. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    My main antagonist is a cold, hard-lined, unchecked capitalist with a zero-tolerance, borderline Calvinistic approach to life. He is the vice president of the United States and uses the nation's intelligence and espionage resources to undermine the economies, defenses and stability of other nations to bring them under heel or at least render them ineffective to build themselves up. He is also deep into spying on the domestic population to maintain control and stability. He believes economic strength is the soul of a great nation and to that end, he thinks the work force should be self-sacrificing to the greater good of making the US a strong economic power.

    I love him for his belief that he is doing what is in the nation's best interest.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2014
    Acanthophis likes this.
  24. Robert_S
    Offline

    Robert_S Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2013
    Messages:
    874
    Likes Received:
    163
    In love stories, the influence/secondary is often the antagonist and presents the greatest difficulty to the MC's achieving his/her goal: winning the heart of the love interest.

    And sometimes, the antagonist is simply following the letter of the law when the MC wants to cut some corners.

    The antagonist doesn't have to be evil at all.
     
  25. amorgan3
    Offline

    amorgan3 Member

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2009
    Messages:
    17
    Likes Received:
    5
    Antagonists are heroes. Heroes are antagonists.
     

Share This Page