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  1. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    Motive for an antagonist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by daturaonfire, Jul 27, 2009.

    This novel I'm working on is driving me up a wall. Or into one, maybe. My protagonist is a teenage girl who's adopted by a very young foster mother. The main conflict is between my MC and her foster mother's father, a charming, manipulative psychologist. I'm having a problem finding a reason for him to despise my MC so much that he'd spend years tormenting her by sabotaging relationships, having her stalked, etc. He does the same thing to his daughter, but to a lesser extent. (Since she's an adult and a bit tougher, there's less he can do to her.) The story's urban fantasy, so there's lots of room to play, but I can't figure this one out. Ideas, anyone?
     
  2. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    I'd love to help, but I'll need some more information.

    How heavy is the fantasy in the setting? Is it just limited to the existence of a couple "fantastic" races, or monsters, or a bit of magic here and there, or is it heavy duty urban fantasy where Cthulhu and his gang do nightly battle with the Forces of Light and their High Holy Magic?

    Is this guy meant to be Evil or an antagonist? Is there a manifest Evil in your world, or a hell, or any other source of unrefined villainy? Is he meant to be realistic or just sympathetic? Are we meant to understand his motivations? What is the most evil he gets, and what would be "too far" for him?

    Is there a tangible benefit to him to sabotage his foster daughter? Is his foster daughter "chosen" or "destined" or in any other way a defined-as-such hero? Will he get his comeuppance at the end?

    Hell, just answering those might give you some ideas to go on.
     
  3. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    :-D Thanks for replying. It's set in a world where there are magic creatures and humans with supernatural abilities, but not divided up into good and evil, per se. Think China Mieville, as opposed to Robert Jordan. (Both are awesome, my style is just closer to Mieville's.)

    Clive is evil, but only in the sense that he's a very bad person who does cruel things. He's not a dark overlord--he has no ambitions to take over the world. He seems to derive his pleasure from manipulating and hurting people, especially women. I think maybe the only thing that Clive would stop at is killing a child. He doesn't have a problem hurting them though. He's meant to be realistic, and to be charming enough to intially fool the reader into liking him.

    I guess his motivation may be the fact that the protagonist knows him for what he is--she's seen men like him before and isn't fooled by his charm and good looks.
     
  4. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    From what you describe it sounds like he could be a control freak. That state of mind often springs from feeling inadequate and out of control on a subconscious level. Perhaps its jealousy? Perhaps he desires her sexually, but cannot have her. You can find tons of articles about the psychology behind obsessiveness (and he seems obsessive to me), by doing some googling. A complex and highly distorted psyche can make for an extremely interesting antagonist, but it requires some research to build up. Luckily, our own world should have plenty of examples to draw from.
     
  5. daturaonfire
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    daturaonfire Senior Member

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    :p Ah yes, I've been graced with plenty of material from the real world. Thank you for the suggestions. I'll definitely google obsessive behaviors.
     
  6. Anders Backlund
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    Anders Backlund Contributing Member

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    HorusEye pretty much wrote my response for me, actually.

    Let me just add that I like the irony of a psychologist suffering from mental/emotional issues.
     
  7. lyteside
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    lyteside Member

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    A character with those kind of traits could be nailed as a victim of emotional and physical abuse himself. If his "voice" or heart was silenced as a child, he will not be able to empathize with others as well, and also may find some kind of gratification in hurting others (as a sort of cathartic experience). This item leaves some room for the character being redeemed to a certain extent. i.e. instead of the villain "getting what he deserves" in the end, there might be a compromise somewhere between forgiveness and gentleness that turns him around, while at the same time having to suffer the consequences of his actions, etc.

    also, one will grow curious: is this man being manipulated by others to do these deeds? Is he still being pressured or scared of something else and actively taking it out on her? Are there spiritual or fantastical undertones of why he behaves this way? enchantment, demonic influence, etc. all stuff to consider.
     

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