1. Uberwatch

    Uberwatch Active Member

    Jul 26, 2013
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    Los Angeles, California

    Over-developing Antagonists?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Uberwatch, Sep 17, 2013.

    This has been a growing problem for me and probably a lot of writers. When I develop a character or a group of characters that are supposed to be the antagonist of a story, I work on them so much, the protagonist ends up being an afterthought and the antagonists has more backstory and development.

    I have noticed this so much in books and movies where the antagonists become more likable ironically because they happen to be more interesting. How can I set a balance where both types of characters can be developed equally?
  2. jannert

    jannert Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Mar 7, 2013
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    Oh, that's a difficult balance to strike, no mistake.

    Of course, you can employ the trick of only showing the antagonist briefly, and only when absolutely necessary. However, there lurks danger. If your antagonist is much more interesting than the progagonist, the reader will become impatient during the 'bits in between' and find the protagonist not only boring, but incredibly annoying.

    I think the answer is simple, really. You MUST develop your protagonist.

    Just because the protagonist may be a 'good' character doesn't mean he/she has to be boring. This character can certainly have a dark side, and a dark side is always interesting. Make things as difficult for them as you can, within the scope of the story. And don't make all their difficulties stem from the actions of the antagonist.

    Work on the progagonist. Don't do this in an artificial manner, but really delve deeply into their personality. Bring their insecurities to the fore. Develop their passions, whatever they may be. Make the reader identify strongly with them. It's the only way to balance the story.

    Of course this means YOU have to be interested in the protagonist. If you find yourself writing an antagonist as if they are your MC, then you can always shift perspective and make them the protagonist. Nothing wrong with that.

    It's a good idea to get a beta reader to read what you've written so far ...to read ALL of it, not just snippets on the forum ...and let you know which character they like best. And why. Get feedback from people you trust.
    Thornesque likes this.
  3. Arannir

    Arannir Active Member

    Sep 16, 2013
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    United Kingdom
    The balance can be hard to make. I have experience with that.

    You really need to find something that would make both characters interesting, such as the protagonist having a dark past and the antagonist could once have been a hero who has become an alcoholic, depressed, etc.

    It depends on the story's plot and genre to decide backstory for each and every character but try to equally share out their past experiences.

    Try writing a backstory for each character but with a set word count for each.

    Delve deeply into feelings, emotions and relationships to give help with the character's history. But it's all up to YOU. YOU have to like the character. YOU need to share their pain and emotion.

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