Villains. Scoundrels. Antiheroes. Adversaries. Mwmah ha ha! Every story needs an antagonist. Click to Tweet #amwriting #story-fixing
When portraying an antagonist, whether it be human, animal, weather, natural disaster, or an evil person, it’s important to show the antagonist in his best light. Sounds funny, doesn’t it?
Here’s a few tips:
- Limit their time on the page
- Show the mental/emotional unbalance
- Create callousness rather than sadism
- Villain should not be self-congratulatory
- They don’t view themselves as the adversary
- Show the villain’s justification for his actions
- Give them one virtue
- Give ‘em free rein, and see what happens (can’t always plot that out ahead of time)
How should the hero fight the villain? Alone. The hero fights with courage and virtue, the villain responds with treachery and deceit. When squaring off, maybe the villain forces the hero into a moral dilemma of some kind. All the better.
The hero should be constrained by morality and will respond in a way the reader expects. The villain’s downfall should come because of his own choices and actions, that would not be moral.
Fine-Tuning Your Manuscript
- Since no one sees themselves as a villain, how does your adversary perceive themselves to be a hero in their own mind? How does he rationalize his actions and justify his choices?
- How does the hero figuratively outlast the storm (showing perseverance) that the villain brings on? Or how will the hero outwit the villain (cleverness)?
- How does the hero overcome evil or the threat to his life at the very moment it seems most likely he’ll succumb to it or be destroyed by it? How can you make that a pivotal moment more believable or poignant?
- If you have the villain have a change of heart, will the readers buy it? What would be more intriguing? A change of heart, or not? How will that affect the ending?
Villains. Create an antagonist the readers will love to hate, or hate to love. Click to Tweet. #amwriting #story-fixing