1. Stevedunks

    Stevedunks New Member

    Jun 2, 2011
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    Antagonist Motive

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Stevedunks, Aug 8, 2011.

    Hi again guys!

    This post is exactly what is says in the title, i am struggling with a part of my antagonists motive. In my opinion nothing ruins a good plot more than the antagonist having a poor, or even no motive. I believe the most common motive for a character to be 'evil' is a power lust or greed, this is over-used and does not make a character interesting.

    For example i thoroughly enjoyed the Harry Potter series, but after thinking about it for a while i was deeply disappointed with the weak motive Voldemort had - to rule the wizarding world (or so i believe).

    Anyway, i don't want to give too much plot away but these are the basics: The main antagonist is trying to awaken C1 because he has the power to create new worlds. However creation will always lead to destruction somewhere else (which is why he must be stopped). He basically wants to put the 'world' in jeopardy to create a new world. The 'good guys' believe he just wants a sanctuary for himself, however at the end of the plot, on his deathbed he reveals that he wanted to create a non-corrupt place for his son to be raised in (his wife was executed).

    Nobody knows about his son until he reveals it, however i don't want this selfless side of him to be shown until the end - it would ruin the pity that will be injected into the reader.

    Therefore my question is, how can this character be bent on evil, for a good cause but then change in his time of need?

    I was pondering on ideas such as Jekyll and Hyde type characteristics how he had been warped into an evil being because of hundreds of years of solitary confinement (as the plot goes). However, i have become stuck at what triggers the good and bad in him. If it's random, it is likely that his true motive is revealed prematurely.

    Any ideas are appreciated!
  2. Cogito

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 19, 2007
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    Massachusetts, USA
    Forget evil. Think instead of goals that are logical, but disruptive to the status quo and large parts of the population.

    For example, the resolution in Watchmen. Killing millions for the sake of a stable long term peace. Unthinkably evil by most people's estimation, and yet so compellingly told that the viewer almost supports the antagonist's plan.
  3. Pythonforger

    Pythonforger Carrier of Insanity

    Nov 14, 2010
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    Amongst the Mortals
    A sidenote:In Harry Potter, Voldemort's goal was originally to make sure wizards ruled over Muggles, and to explore the more evil depths of magic. He later including killing Harry in his list of goals.

    Anyway, I believe that anyone with an "evil" motive is motivated by:
    a)The greater good
    b)Pure evil(ie. insanity. Real pure evil is way to cliche.)
    c)A logical goal that happens to kill people(as Cogito suggested)
    d)Lust for power/knowledge/etc.
  4. AJSmith

    AJSmith New Member

    Mar 7, 2011
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    From what you described, it sounds like your character has a motive already, I don't think you need to go much farther with it, just really flesh that one out well. He wanted to create a non corrupt place to raise his son - despite the cost to those on the world that will be destroyed. Evil/bad action to meet goal that he finds important - check. You just need to explore the depths of this reason. What's so wrong with the current world? How is he going to ensure the new one is not corrupt? Did his wife have such a wish before she was executed? Was her execution related to his desire for this?

    Also, I don't know your story, but you might consider revealing hints of his sympathetic side in bits throughout the story. As a reader, I would like to be presented with this side of him earlier, and allowed the opportunity to decide why I sympathize or don't, and if I agree or disagree with him. It also gives other characters a chance to grapple with the idea as well.... is stopping him the right thing to do?

    I don't think you need to resort to any complex Dr. Jekyll and Mrs. Hyde type thing... what you have could work well.

    I agree that motivation/goals for all characters are SO important. I have put myself to multiple day standstills when I realized one of my characters motives had a flaw, had changed, or were missing. I find myself constantly asking, "but why would she do that?"... about all of them. :)
  5. walshy12238

    walshy12238 New Member

    Aug 6, 2011
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    I think Cogito basically sums it up.
    Bad guys don't necessarily have to have motives that are 'evil' so to speak, they can just believe that what they're doing is right, and for the greater good. Much like Voldemort. How they actually carry out that motive can be considered evil or disruptive, therefore giving the good guys reason to try and stop him.
    As for the time of need thing, the bad guy can have a realisation of some kind I guess; maybe he figures out that how he's going about things is wrong, and he can genuinely turn himself around.

    Hope that helps :D
  6. The_NeverPen

    The_NeverPen Member

    Jul 28, 2011
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    Pretty damn neat character, I think. This "villain" obviously doesn't value the lives of anyone but himself and his family, so anytime he's in a scene, I would show him acting in a rude or dismissive way. He could push slow, old ladies down stairs, slap crying babies and kill barking dogs. Hell, according to him, the world is going to end anyways, right? Might as well act with reckless abandon.

    A man motivated by pain alone will act antagonistically without much further help. House provides many fun hours of case study there. When it comes time, he can be confronted with the pain he's caused and be convinced to find relief in peace instead of destruction. Then, teary-eyed and full of lightning, he can save his son by throwing Emperor Palpatine down a space-well.
  7. cruciFICTION

    cruciFICTION Contributor Contributor

    May 18, 2011
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    Brisbane, Australia
    I have two things to say. First, listen to Cogito. The man speaks sense.
    Second, wanting to create a place for his son is not selfless. It's selfish because he's doing it for his kin. It'd be selfless if he was letting homeless people go there. Doing it for his son is not selfless.

    Actually, if you're fully aware of the canon storyline, Voldemort is basically a massive terrorist and dictator. He's like Salazar Slytherin with his only pure-blood rule. He wants to kill all the muggles. He only included killing Harry because he found out about the prophecy, and he didn't want anything to screw up the time he spent killing muggles.
    That said, he had to spend all his time killing the wizards who defied him so that he could rule wizardkind before he started killing Muggles.

    Dumbledore and his good ol' pal Grindelwald wanted to rule over muggles, for the good of muggles and wizards, but not kill them.

    Do you see how those are different?

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