1. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Introducing Antagonist(s)

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by sprirj, Jul 9, 2015.

    Very much following on from the post by Elena, I was curious at what point you introduce antagonists?

    In my book, the plan is to introduce mine in the very last chapter. I suppose you might call it a twist ending, but the story does build up to it, and there is mention of certain things in the last third of the book.
     
  2. BayView
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    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

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    You're talking about the actual antagonist as a character, not as a force in the protagonist's life?

    I can see it being interesting to have a shadowy figure causing trouble through the book, for sure. But obviously the antagonist would have to be influencing things all along, and I'd think the reader should probably be aware that there is an antagonist fairly early in the story...
     
  3. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Like calling your story 'the wizard of oz' maybe?
     
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  4. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    Just trying to understand. So the antagonist is in the book from the beginning and his/her name is not mentioned? Or the whole book is based on the protagonist doing his thing till that last chapter when he/she comes in contact with the antagonist? If it's the former, will the readers be able to relate to this "unnamed" character throughout the book? If it's the latter, how much impact will this have on the story when the antagonist is introduced in the last few chapters?
     
  5. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Does the reader need to relate to the antagonist? I don't think they do. They will have a huge impact on the end.
     
  6. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    I'm not quite sure what you mean. Is it a surprise ending, then? Or is the antagonist somebody the reader will be aware of throughout the book, but won't meet until near the end? (Like Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now?) Is it somebody pulling strings that the protagonist doesn't know about—events that seemed random during the story actually do have a purpose, and the purpose belongs to this antagonist?

    It's hard to answer your question because we don't know what you're doing in your story.

    Do take care that when the antagonist does appear (apparently late on) that it's a believable occurrence. Readers should say OMIGOD, not '...huh..?'
     
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  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    I actually started my book with a flashback prologue (cue horror movie scream) from the POV of my antagonist, 19 years before my main action. So assuming you read the prologue, you actually meet my antagonist before you meet my protagonist. After the prologue I have someone else mention the antagonist over the phone in the middle of chapter one, and then you re-meet the antagonist in person in the middle of Chapter 3.
     
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  8. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yeah - what you suggested works if, by "introduce" you mean "reaveal that a character we thought was a friend is actually the main villain." This works great (Azimov's "Foundation and Empire" did this very, very well). If you mean, "show us that the bad guy is actually someone we haven't previously met," it's not going to fly. That's like a backwards deus ex machina (I think I once heard something like this referred to as "deus ex wrench" - a last minute twist that renders the rest of the plot irrelevant).
     
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  9. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    The question shouldn't be hard to answer... The question was asking about your book, not mine. :)

    I think there could be a danger of deluxe ex wrench, but it will depend on how I write it.
     
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  10. GuardianWynn
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    GuardianWynn Contributing Member Contributor

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    I am a bit confused on what you mean by antognist. Then again maybe I am more confused on the term. I mean many of my stories don't have a clear cut bad guy.

    Like my main story. The person I think would be labeled the antagnosist is right in the begining. She isn't revealed to be bad until about half way but the end is her saving the day but not in the turning over a leaf sense. In the sense that people were looking at her too black and white. She is a bad person but that doesn't mean she is always mean.
     
  11. Wayfarer33
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    Wayfarer33 Member

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    I'm not sure what you have in mind, either, but I'm actually intrigued. I think it could potentially come off very well, depending on how you do it. Or come off very poorly and leave readers feeling cheated, depending on how you do it. I really like jannert's idea in Post #6, in particular - suddenly revealing that seemingly random obstacles were actually created by an antagonist. Perhaps someone known, or mentioned, but not seen clearly before as a villain/opponent.

    I don't think there should be any hard and fast rule about when to introduce this or that particular character. You should go by what your particular plot and story requires.
     
  12. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Well, to answer the question directly, my antagonist was introduced in the prologue! Only the readers won't know he's the antagonist then. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Just before or during the inciting incident.

    Introducing an antagonist at the end is, imo, utterly pointless. What's going on through the rest of the story? If they only exist at the end, in any form, they're not really an antagonist at all, just a character that turns up at the end that gives the character a hard time, just like all the other momentary characters throughout the story. Remember, an introduction can be as vague as recognition that they exist. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now is introduced in the first 15 minutes, even if we only meet him near the end. We still know about him, and that knowledge is a driving force through the whole film. So is the Wizard, even though the wicked witch is the antagonist and the Wizard is the objective.
     
    Last edited: Jul 10, 2015
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  14. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    an·tag·o·nist
    (ăn-tăg′ə-nĭst)
    n.
    1. One who opposes and contends against another; an adversary.
    2. The principal character in opposition to the protagonist or hero of a narrative or drama.
    3. Physiology A muscle that counteracts the action of another muscle, the agonist.
    4. A drug or chemical substance that interferes with the physiological action of another, especially by combining with and blocking its receptor.

    You can't have an adversary or a principle character in opposition if they only get introduced at the end when the struggle is almost over. What are they struggling against in the meantime? If nothing, your story sucks. If something, THAT is your antagonist.
     
  15. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    But it is, given the vague way in which it was asked. Do you really mean NO antagonist, and no antagonistic force? If so, then I agree with @Selbbin - it's pointless to introduce him/her/it in the final chapter because antagonists provide conflict and tension, and if your story lacks conflict and tension, then it's not much of a story.

    If, OTOH, there is an antagonistic force throughout the story that is providing the tension, and you only reveal the personna of that force at the end, that could work, but then I'm with @jannert - you need to avoid the HUH?? factor.
     
  16. sprirj
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    sprirj Contributing Member

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    Ed, the question is about your antagonist. I was deliberately vague about mine, as I don't want to give away the ending or too much of my structure. :)
     
  17. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    In my case, there is an antagonistic force present very close to the beginning. There is a thematic antagonistic force linking two stories - one historical, one more recent - that emerges part way into the novel.
     

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