1. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    How do you introduce your antagonist?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by The Scarred Servant, May 11, 2017.

    Stories like to thrive on their antagonists, whether through their symbolism, their ruthlessness, or just how good they look in clown make up. Thinking about antagonists, I like to look back on those faithful moments where we get our first meeting with these obsessed opposers because those are usually the moments you remember about them. So, for any of your stories, how have you introduced your antagonists?

    For me, I have multiple antagonists throughout the story, though only a few are major antagonists. I like my introductions for them to embody the major aspects of their character, for my first antagonist he's introduced in a rather goofy, but telling way. Sitting in a large pool, playing with a rubber ducky while casually discussing how he's going to take over an entire nation with his comrades, before ending with him killing a traitor with a drink in hand; introducing his rather jovial and laid back attitude, while showing how threatening he can be.

    Another is an assassin, who makes his first appearance in the aftermath of a sudden power outage. The room is dark, the MC hears rapid gunfire from the other room, but he's trapped beneath debris and unable to move. Suddenly, the gunfire stops, he hears the screech of metal as some sort of weapon is dragged across the floor; before his eyes the MC witnesses a strange figure enter the room at a slow pace, passing by the MC in a scene of tension and dread.

    My major villain is only properly introduced after a long build up of mentions, he was talked about offhandedly throughout the story, the MC travels through an entire twisted country apparently caused by the villain. And finally, after a hole rips in reality, he comes face to face with the villain; who quickly kills off another main character with an endless army at his back.

    How have you introduced yours?
     
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  2. rktho

    rktho Five WIPs are more efficient than one

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    Right off the bat, the first named character we see is Zarakharn, the antagonist. Zarakharn has returned from a journey to an undisclosed place (he goes on trips like these often) to meet with a roguish "archeologist" named Daktarash, who has something Zarakharn has been looking for. Daktarash is not a protagonist either, but he's not an antagonist since he never interacts with the protagonists. In fact, he's the catalyst that sets the story in motion when he double crosses Zarakharn and steals a precious magical crystal from him and loses it. In the next chapter, my protagonists are then introduced, followed by a brief scene where Zarakharn kills Daktarash and goes looking for the crystal, before cutting back to my protagonists who find it first, not knowing what it is.

    After failing to retrieve the crystal, Zarakharn summons a ghost. Fiandarsh was the founder of an order of dark wizards, the one to which Zarakharn belongs, called the Kenshi. Fiandarsh has been dead for millennia, but that hasn't prevented him from teaching Zarakharn the ways of dark magic as a spirit. Fiandarsh is very critical; he reprimands Zarakharn for losing the crystal and for making it in the first place. The crystal makes Zarakharn immortal, and Fiandarsh considers Zarakharn cowardly for seeking to escape death. Nevertheless, the crystal has a very clear advantage, because without it, Zarakharn would be dying of old age, instead of possessing the prime physique of a younger dragon. Fiandarsh admits this grudgingly but vows not to correct his mistakes anymore. If he sees Zarakharn head down the wrong path, Fiandarsh will say nothing. Zarakharn protests that this is foolish but Fiandarsh is stubborn. Fiandarsh bears an existence-long grudge against his brother Khriza, which is the reason he created the Kenshi order and turned to dark magic in the first place, seeking power.

    Those are the introductions to the two main antagonists in the first book.
     
  3. Dracon

    Dracon Contributor Contributor

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    There's a fair bit of conspiracy in my novel, so several antagonists are fairly innocuously introduced as just another supporting character to the story. The main villain of the story who is the main nemesis of my FMC is actually first introduced to my MMC. I make it quite clear to the reader who they are, but the character doesn't know it yet, so there's definitely a 'snake in the grass' feel to the whole book.

    I seriously believe that the best books are made by the villains. My favourite ones are anyway. I quite like reading about what the antagonist is doing, and like it when they get a healthy amount of page time. It's a little disappointing that I can't do the same, but it's necessary to do so if I want to keep the game going.
     
  4. X. Sheonn

    X. Sheonn Member

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    My main antagonist is a high school substitute teacher. He's the MC's favorite teacher because he seems to be the only one who is even remotely kind to him. He says approximately two sentences in the first chapter, then we don't see him for a while. Then we see him twice pretty close together, then he's gone for a long time. When MC finds out it's him, the only thing remaining dependable thing in his life - the kindness of a teacher - is gone. I hope that doesn't suck, lol.
     
  5. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Digging out my Balzac Contributor

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    My antagonist is the first character mentioned in the book so he pretty much shows up in the first line and starts doing his thing.
     
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  6. rktho

    rktho Five WIPs are more efficient than one

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    Same
     
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  7. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I introduce my protagonist and antagonist together, but the reader isn't going to fully understand their relationship until the end of the first chapter.

    By 'antagonist' I don't mean 'villain' (a term I detest, because it implies a twirly moustache and a bwahahaaa attitude which seems overly simplistic for my kind of story.)

    The antagonist is simply the person whose actions, personality or mere existence gives the protagonist major problems during the course of the story.
     
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  8. dragonmint

    dragonmint Member

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    While my story is not yet developed to the point of total confirmation, the working idea is my antagonist is introduced right after my protagonist arrives. However, in a twist, he is not my protagonist's antagonist; he is the antagonist of a neighboring king. In a nutshell, my protagonist works for the antagonist. That is not to say my protagonist does not have an antagonist, she does, but in a more abstract way; although she does face obstacles in the form of people, intrigue, and plots. But please note this is still a working idea! I have a tendency to change things here and there :D
     
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  9. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    This has got me thinking. TBH, one of my books doesn't really have an antagonist at all. There's a school bully, but she's also one of my protagonists as the story is about how she can break her cycle of loneliness and insecurity and stop needing to pick on others to feel strong.

    In my other book, the antagonist is shrouded in mystery until the climax of the book, instead sending henchmen to watch my protagonist until he can use this information to put together a plan to kidnap her. I suppose the most important guy would be the main spy, who gets posted in the school as a music teacher who gains my MC's rather naïve trust, then betrays her to the antagonist.

    A short story I'm kind of working on does have an antagonist, but our protagonists don't really behave that much better.

    And my last story is a murder mystery, so obviously we don't get to find out who did it until the end.

    Y'know, I don't think I really go in for antagonists.
     
  10. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    Don't forget that antagonist doesn't mean villain. Quoted from Wikipedia:
    "An antagonist is a character, group of characters, instirution or concept that stands in or represents opposition against which the protagonist must contend. In other words, an antagonist is a person or a group of people who opposes a protagonist."

    So if your protagonist is thieve or a murderer, a "bad guy" - the police or "good guy" could be the antagonist.
     
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  11. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    I somehow missed more than half the thread for some reason, so I guess I sort of echoed the last part.
     
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  12. Lemie

    Lemie Contributor Contributor

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    My antagonist is an organization that tries to save humanity from an old virus that everybody thought had died out.

    I haven't decided how they are going to be introduced, but their first scene will probably end up being the first scene of the novel. From the beginning things were going to start of much later and the organization would seem to be mysterious bad guys (viewed from my protagonist) until the climax, but it doesn't really appeal to me anymore. Either way I feel like I'd rather write a scene too much and scrap it if needed.
     
  13. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I do a lot of villain protagonists, myself ;) Sometimes the antagonists of a specific scene are the heroes, sometimes the antagonists are rival villains.

    Haven't found any consistencies in how I introduce my antagonists (heroic or otherwise) yet. Sometimes we see the character before we see what they're doing, sometimes we see what's happening before we see the person who's doing it...
     
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  14. Marina Grönbäck

    Marina Grönbäck New Member

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    Im a new writer. And finding tips to improve myself. To be honest this thread has it all. Glad I sign up on wf.
     
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  15. Minty Talons

    Minty Talons Member

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    Oh I always like to introduce my antagonists when they're projecting power.

    My latest one is introduced sitting feasting in his own home wearing heavy expensive Armour and a sword. Dominating the conversation and casually issuing commands, it's obvious everyone there is scared of/respects him even the knights and other nobles.
     
  16. hirundine

    hirundine Senior Member

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    I usually suck at developing antagonists, so I decided to essentially cast a volcano in that role. You don't have to motivate those. I'm still at the planning stage, but the opening scene will involve the protagonist - a geologist - basically running away from a minor (but dangerously close) explosion.

    However, during the course of planning and development, one of the three main characters evolved to become a second, more traditional antagonist. Since he and the protagonist are colleagues, he'll most likely be introduced in the following chapter, when she arrives back at work a couple of days later.
     
  17. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    I always enjoy a good antagonist. The ones I tend to write are tricksters. They enjoy pulling the strings and causing the chaos, but quite hard to dislike. They're often affable, charming and very dangerous.

    I often show them in the prologue. In one story the villain appears by inviting a guest round to his mansion for tea, getting the information he needs and leading him into a graveyard where he then shows someone digging up a grave for the man. Then he shoots him.

    Another story has the bad guy appear as a priest in a church where only the MC can see his true face. He does this on purpose to let him know he's there. And he even rescued him when he was just a small child. But his agenda is likely more sinister...
     
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  18. Dr.Meow

    Dr.Meow Senior Member

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    I introduce one of the main antagonists in the second chapter, mostly because the story is more complex than bad guy vs good guy, but I also have the protagonist being a bit of his own antagonist. I realize "inner struggle" is more appropriate wording, but this is taken a little more extreme than an internal conflict. It's much closer to him actually becoming a bad guy at one point, and showing how thin the line is between the two at times.

    The other primary antagonist has a very long character arc, so I throw in a few more things along the way. This person also is a protagonist in a twisted way, he's fighting against what he perceives as weakness in his people, and he is trying to protect them in his own way, that just so happens to be "evil" if you will. There really is no good or bad guy ultimately, but there's a clear line of who is better I suppose.
     
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  19. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Game of Thrones does a great job at showing the greys in people's characters and the varying distinctions. In life we often get a spectrum of people who lean one way or another. That said, there is still a simplicity to all of this when we go with what naturally feels right or wrong. Ned is clearly in most respects a 'good' man, his friend Robert was once a good man who became a lazy and incompetent King, but much of this comes through his discontentment with his position. Joffrey on the other hand, well...

    His mother loves him, at least.
     
  20. QualityPen

    QualityPen Member

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    I've got a complex story with a cast of gray characters, so many of them can be regarded as antagonists from the point of view of more agreeable characters. However, there is a single main antagonist who does stand out. I plan to introduce him halfway through the first book as a mentor figure to one of the main characters. I present him as an agreeable character who wants to do right by the world, but the longer the story continues, the more of that facade will begin to unravel until the reader and characters realize that it is a farce and this man has been driving the massive wars sweeping the pangea for about fifteen years. It's a lot like Palpatine from Star Wars now that I think about it, except he isn't as obvious and doesn't do three deliberate evil head turns in one conversation.

    [​IMG]

    I introduce his antagonistic side first by inserting little clues which don't mesh well with things other characters already know of him. Rarely, he demonstrates knowledge he cannot possibly have or uses sorcery which breaks the known laws of magic (kind of as startling as defying the laws of physics). At first the characters let this go, but after years and years, they finally start to notice things are seriously amiss about this character.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2017
  21. The Scarred Servant

    The Scarred Servant Member

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    That's one stylish entrance, I'd certainly be hooked by that prologue.
     
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  22. EstherMayRose

    EstherMayRose Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah. Now, that's a villain.
     
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  23. Jupie

    Jupie Senior Member

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    Haha, thanks both. I had a lot of fun with him. The man's name was called Johnny, so when the baddie shoots him he starts singing the verse to 'Johnny I hardly knew ye.'

    It always unsettles me when I remember I was the one who created this stuff :p.
     
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  24. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

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    I got into an argument with one of my villains recently, and she won.
     
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  25. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll Contributor Contributor

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    Well my antag is more of a clash of ideals, which in turn is a clash of
    bullets and blades. While it is told from the POV of the "good guys",
    none can be considered to be either good nor bad as they are equally both
    in their own ways.

    Next misadventure might be more of a traditional good v. bad thing. :)
     

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