1. StevieT
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    StevieT New Member

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    The Reason Behind The Actions Of My Antagonist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by StevieT, May 8, 2015.

    Hey everyone,

    Just joined this forum and happy to be a part of it :)

    I'm outlining my first fantasy novel and the thing I'm having the most problems with is to decide the reason behind the actions of the antagonist. I'm especially struggling with what the antagonist is trying to achieve. It all seems to boil down to trying to gain world-domination.. in all good books that looks like the main drive of the antagonist. And usually their vision of a good world is different from the protagonists and that's why there's a huge fight.

    Can anyone give me some advice on creating things like this? Or resources where this is taught?

    Looking forward to your awesome answers!

    Kind regards,
    Steve
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    Hi welcome to the forum. I can only add an observation, sticking with the standard fare is fine, but find a way to make the characters more than just their narrow goals. Just wanting to save or own the world make for fairly flat characters. They need to be more complicated than that.
     
  3. tonguetied
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    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

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    Another classic reason for the antagonist is revenge. Since it is a fantasy you could easily use some sort of bias. In the real world money is the root of all evil is pretty applicable. You could even use a simple concept of the antagonist simply doesn't know they are causing harm; you said fantasy so consider the actions of a great white shark amongst some seals as an example.
     
  4. RachHP
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    RachHP Contributing Member

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    This could be a good place to start:
    http://www.darcypattison.com/revision/villain-motivations

    In my experience, the 'take over the world' types are driven to doing so by deep rooted insecurities. They act tough because they feel weak, claim privilege because they feel unworthy, oppress because they were victims and so on and so forth. Basically, your answer is in your character's backstory!
     
  5. Lemon flavoured
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    Lemon flavoured Active Member

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    The other obvious reason that someone might decide to try and take over the world is because they feel they deserve it for whatever reason (however misguided said reason might be).
     
    Last edited: May 10, 2015
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  6. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    In ALL good books? Oliver Twist? Alice in Wonderland? In This House of Brede? Huckleberry Finn? I'm suspecting that you read a very, very specific type of book.

    Edited to add: I realize that this sounds unresponsive to your question, and maybe it is, but... well, the idea that all good literature MUST be driven by one specific plot seems very restrictive. Perhaps if you consider the possibility of some other sort of plot, you'll find it easier to get an idea of who your character is and what they want? Maybe they don't want to take over the world. Maybe they want something else.
     
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  7. StevieT
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    StevieT New Member

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    Thanks for your extra addition, that indeed helped more :) And I believe I'm indeed thinking too narrow.

    I just have a couple of ideas of things the protagonist is going to encounter and I have to decide what the driving force behind the things he's going to encounter is. Anyone has this same problem, with writing about the force of the villain?
     
  8. animenagai
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    animenagai Member

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    Whenever I'm writing a character I ask myself "what's the hole in his/her chest?" You know, their insecurities, regrets and so on. Sometimes my writing gets too plot-driven and I have to drag myself back to these basics.
     
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  9. molliemoogle
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    molliemoogle Member

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    I just read a pretty good article on this, since it's something I'm struggling with at the moment. Great characters, great setting, need more conflict, motivations, and goals.

    http://blog.janicehardy.com/2014/01/two-questions-to-ask-for-stronger.html

    What I took away from it was this: your character (protag or antag) needs 2 things, goals and motivations. Goals are the overall things the character wants and/or something to be gained, motivations are the reasons for wanting to achieve that goal.

    My consistently-in-progress novel has 5 MCs with a load of minor characters (who also have their own stories). MC1 is sleeping with MC2 so he can pay off a debt. MC2 and MC3 are in a heated battle for control of a vast underworld empire. MC4 is in a battle with MC2 and MC3 because he's the governor of the country. MC5 is a religious figure who hates what MC1 represents (which isn't homosexuality!) However, the motivations for each of them aren't there. Why does MC1 want to pay off this debt? What's in it for him? Why is MC2 so interested in having his rival's (MC3) underworld businesses? What's in it for him, other than power? Same with MC3. Why is MC4 so interested in getting rid of MC2 and MC3? Why does MC5 hate MC1 so much? I haven't answered those questions, so I'm a bit stuck, but at least I know that's what I need to work on.

    The link to the 39 villain motivations is a really good one, but ask yourself "if my MC's goal is X, what's in it for him? Why is he striving toward this goal, because there's an underlying psychological factor in there.

    Example: MC3 might say that he wants control of the underworld because he wants power. But why does he want power? Well, he was the son of a Hong Kong-based mafia boss, but he doesn't quite feel that his father ever believed that he could take over Tokyo. Goal: underworld domination. Motivation: power. Psycholgical motivation: to show dad that he can do it.
    Example: MC1 wants to pay off a debt that his tour manager has accumulated with MC2, a very frightening yakuza boss. Why does he want to pay it off? Well, his female bandmates will get sold into prostitution if the debt isn't paid, the band will be liable for the payments, and the tour manager will lose everything. But, to me, this is a weak motivation (but it's a motivation). Goal: pay off the debt. Motivation: to keep his band together. Psychological motivation: for teh f33lz.

    Does that make sense?
     
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  10. StevieT
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    StevieT New Member

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    I think that's very important advice. People can relate to a whole in someone's chest, even if they have no such hole. Everyone recognizes the pain of not having something or not being recognized etc.
    Thanks, I'll be adding that to my list of character traits!

    Hell yeah! Thanks for your extensive post. It does sound like my situation (though you're quite further in your story than I am). There's quite some cool stuff happening, but why? And that's a very important drive in a story because I think it's something that keeps a person reading and the cool situations is what completes it.
     
  11. JEH
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    JEH Member

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    If its a fantasy novel you don't even need to give a reason for it, they're just evil. Take Sauron from Lord of the rings, we're never told why he wants to take over Middle-Earth, we're never told why it will be bad if it does, because its fantasy, its simplified, he's just an evil devil like figure and that's it.

    If you want to go the dictator route. What are your political views? Are there certain things that make your blood boil? Are there ways you think some political situations should be resolved that are screaming out they're so obvious yet not enough people agree that action x should be taken. Dictators have a clear view of what they think should be done and they decide that in their wisdom they understand better than everyone else. They can see the bigger picture of how to make utopia and the rest of the world just doesn't understand what's good for them. In which case my hand is forced, if the people are too stupid to understand that my way is objectively best, then I have no choice but to use violence. It will cause war, but ultimately I will make the ultimate utopia and all who oppose me will thank me in the end and understand that I was right all along. Oppression and force is regrettable but necessary to get to the ultimate goal. Just an idea of how a power hungry dictator may think.

    I find it tricky myself with villains in the fantasy genre. I'm trying to write one myself and I want to get away from the evil lords with no redeeming qualities that just want to rule the world. You know the classics like Sauron, Voldemort and Emperor Palpatine, make villains whom have reasons. But the public often seem to take to those characters more as it simplifies the basic plot, so I guess if it ain't broke don't fix it XD
     
  12. molliemoogle
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    molliemoogle Member

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    @JEH, I think Sauron is a little more complicated: my belief is that he wanted power. And truthfully, power is a great motivator. Imagine the chaos that would ensue if Sauron was the Evil Overlord. The psychological reasons behind wanting power may be varied and would fill up a page or twelve on its own, but yes, simplified, Sauron wanted to rule Middle Earth and it would be very bad. Though, to be honest, it shouldn't have taken them as long as they did to cast the One Ring into Mount Doom. Hobbiton is only about 200km away from Mt Doom; they really did go the long way around. :supercheeky::superthink:

    You've got a good point with the dictator route. Find out what pisses you off and write it into a character, but give him the psychological motivations. It makes for a much more entertaining and, weirdly enough, more likeable villain. Not all of them have to be "totes eval". Like Loki (in the movies anyway): he just wanted to prove to "dad" that he was worthy of the title of King. He has serious brother and father issues. He's flawed. He's (sort of) human and he's relatable and, IMO, totally hot. :supercute:
     

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