1. BFGuru
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    BFGuru Active Member

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    Is is bad that I don't view my characters as antagonists?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by BFGuru, Feb 23, 2012.

    Sure, some will do some pretty horrid things, but I feel like their story lines are so intertwined with my protagonist that they are merely another layer in the tale. They cause some strife, but they cause some good as well. Their reasons for strife are many and, honestly a motivator for probably many humans. So it's hard for me to look at the character that starts as the center of my story and the actual MC, and regard her as the antithesis to that which will evolve into a main character later.
     
  2. Acanthophis
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    Acanthophis ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) Contributor

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    It's the same thing with my stories. If your characters oppose your protagonists in any sort of way (your protagonist and antagonist could have the same goal, but the means could be different) then you can define them as the antagonist.

    I try not to label characters as good/evil, protagonist/antagonist though. It helps me flesh out their story more, because I usually associate antagonist with doing something wrong, which could lead me to make the character more 'bad' then they need to be.

    Not sure if I made any sense, but that's what I've got. :)
     
  3. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Perhaps you're thinking an antagonist -- according to readers -- has to be something like an Indiana Jones villain, and then hold your own characters up to that idea?
    Personally, I much prefer characters that are people and not plot devices. That other stuff was great when I was a kid, but it's not the kind of stories I'd bother reading now. If your "antagonist" seems too human to be a villain, then it'd say it's a plus.
     
  4. Nakhti
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    Nakhti Banned

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    Yup, ditto Schofield. An antagonist doesn't have to be evil (in fact it's better if they aren't, because pure evil-for-the-sake-of-it characters are boring) they just have to oppose your MC's goal in some way. They could both be working for a worthy cause, or at least a sympathetic cause, but once you've decided which one is the MC, then the opposing character must be the antagonist.

    You just have to make clear which side you want your reader to be on.
     
  5. Daniel_Allan
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    Daniel_Allan Member

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    If you want to win me as a reader, blur to lines of right and wrong. I think the BEST bad guys are not really bad at all... just different in the execution of their beliefs. If you view your characters as complete, whole people, than almost ANY story you put them in will be entertaining.

    Lord Foul's Bane was a good book (even though I don't like too much of that kind of fiction). The main character had a decision earlier in the book to help a younger girl back to her village. He rapes her instead. I'm not a fan of rape (really? there are fans?) but that event made me feel like ANYTHING could happen for the rest of the book.

    in short, I think it's up to the reader to put labels on the characters if they want to. You just have to flesh them out and make them real.
     
  6. leke101
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    leke101 Member

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    An antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be evil(although "evil" is a subjective belief in itself). An antagonist is simply someone who has a different belief or way of doing things than the protagonist has. This is what causes the conflict between the protagonist and the antagonist and thus defines their opposing relationship.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Good and evil are shallow concepts. Interacting characters who each have relatable but opposing viewpoints are far more interesting.
     
  8. Erato
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    Erato Contributing Member

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    So true. I have a hard time myself with evil characters. I wind up having to chalk it up to conflicting motives that aren't always apparent, so that one character appears evil to another one, but really it's more complicated. Or I stay out of evil altogether; it depends on the story. For instance I just wrote a piece where two childhood friends grow apart, and become enemies, but I didn't want either one to be really evil so the male of the pair becomes this great holy man of another religion. It wasn't that easy to write so I had to keep switching viewpoints from one to the other, and glorify each religion in turn, which was an interesting experience - I couldn't really bring myself to choose sides.
     
  9. TheWritingWriter
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    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

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    I don't really play around with the terms of "protagonist" & "antagonist." I just write about characters. Also, I think there's a vast misconception that antagonists have to be villains. From my experience, I've learned that antagonists don't have to be people at all. Ex: In the Never Ending Story, the antagonist is The Nasty.

    Something else I find interesting, in some stories, the protagonist can be their own antagonist. Sometimes people work against themselves, habitually, and become their own downfall. There's a book that I read, Falling Under by Danielle Younge-Ullman. That's the perfect example, imo.
     

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