1. Justin Rocket 2

    Justin Rocket 2 Senior Member

    Jun 13, 2013
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    The principle of antagonism

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Justin Rocket 2, Jul 29, 2015.

    THE PRINCIPLE OF ANTAGONISM: A protagonist and his story can only be as intellectually fascinating and emotionally compelling as the forces of antagonism make them.

    This has sent me back to the drawing board.

    My WIP is very mythic in nature and it was too easy for me to create very lifeless villains. After all, the screenplay for Lord of the Rings uses a maladjusted lighthouse as the villain (the novels might use a lighthouse villain as well, I lack the necessary masochism to find out).

    Anyway, tell me about your villains and what you've done to make them as interesting as you can.
  2. AgentBen

    AgentBen Member

    Jul 7, 2015
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    It isn't hard for me to create my villains. My book is Greek and Norse mythology in the modern world. So I basically have wikipedia to base my villains off. Also, the lowly monsters (monsters that aren't strong enough to command) will just blindly follow anything the higher ups say. The most interesting thing about my villains is that they can still control the world around them, and also strike fear into other monsters to make them follow their commands, even though they do not have a physical body.

    Although there will be other villains, with better dynamics, but I haven't got that far yet.
  3. daemon

    daemon Contributor Contributor

    Jun 16, 2014
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    Well, I was going to describe a villain protagonist, but I guess that defeats the purpose of showing how an antagonist makes a protagonist interesting. :p
    Simpson17866 likes this.
  4. ToeKneeBlack

    ToeKneeBlack Banned

    Jun 4, 2014
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    The most compelling antagonists, as far as I perceive them, are the ones who have a reason for doing what they're doing beyond greed or revenge. In their own, deranged way, they're trying to save the world from human overpopulation (by wiping out billions of people) or trying to eradicate suffering (by turning everyone into mindless drones).

    There are also the would-be leaders, who want to lead humanity into a new age of prosperity (by weeding out the troublemakers and anyone who disagrees with their principles).

    By contrast, the protagonist shines brighter if they have a history or grudge against the antagonist(s) - they don't always know they're saving the world by foiling their plans, at least to begin with, but once they've seen what's at stake, it's up to them to choose to fight the good fight.
  5. Simpson17866

    Simpson17866 Contributor Contributor

    Aug 23, 2013
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    Basically, the antagonist needs to have a plan.

    If the main opposition to the protagonist is a character merely reacting to the protagonist - knowingly or otherwise - and if the only complications to the protagonists' plans are do to their own bad luck and miscalculation, then that character is just an obstacle or a MacGuffin, not an antagonist. If the character is a legitimate antagonist, it's because the protagonist is on the defensive as often as not.


    Now, this might be more of my poor attention span than an actual strategy :wink: but I like to come up with as many motivations for as many potential characters as possible.

    If I have 1-2 story ideas that I don't like and 1-2 antagonist ideas that I don't like, then there's not much that I can do. However, if I have 4-5 ideas of each that I don't like, then there's a better chance that some random detail that I come up with out of thin air might be able to combine one of the weak stories with one of the weak antagonists and make something truly magnificent.


    Villains specifically, one of my favorite prompts for villain motivation is "Step 1: find a specific person who has done truly good things in the world. Step 2: if a villain wanted to emulate this person to do the same good in the world, how would the villain do it in a more evil way than his/her role model?"

    For example: many a white supremacist has grown a conscience after getting beat up by a white man and then saved by a non-white man. Maybe a bunch of vigilantes get together to stage fights like this (find white supremacists, have a white guy attack one, have a black guy conveniently in the neighborhood to save him, and in theory the supremacist never finds out that the black guy helped plan the assault)?
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  6. Lea`Brooks

    Lea`Brooks Contributor Contributor

    May 11, 2013
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    Virginia, United States
    Are your main characters named Percy Jackson and Magnus Chase? :supercheeky:

    In the first book of my series, my antagonist is a crystal stuck in the ground. lol It sucks all the life out of the earth and spreads a disease that kills people and animals alike.

    In the second book, it's revealed that the crystal was actually a prison for the God of Death, who was placed there because his very existence destroys life too quickly. After his release, he's angry at being imprisoned and goes on a rampage. :)
    AgentBen likes this.

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