NaNo Prep #3- Convincing Antagonists

It’s been a while since I posted about NaNo prep, which might be because I’m really struggling with my concept and story for this year. My main character (protagonist) is created. She has objectives and motivations. Now it’s time to create her nemesis or, the antagonist.

I love nothing more than an amazing and convincing villain or bad guy.

Sometimes they are even my favorite characters in a book, movie, or television show.

Remember Ben Linus from LOST? Loved him, even though he was an asshole and a terrible “person”. There was just something about his character that grabbed my attention every time he was on screen or his name was mentioned (and that’s not just because Michael Emerson is amazing– although that might have been part of it).

benlinusHe had his motivations and he had objectives. But he also had a backstory, and a good one at that. His back story gave him depth as a character. Ben Linus wasn’t just an evil bastard (although yes, he was pretty evil). He had character growth and development over the course of the show.

Your villains, bad guys, and antagonists need many of the same things as your protagonists do.

  • an objective/goal
  • motivations– What makes them do these things they do?
  • What do they do to reach their objectives or goals

It helps that you know your villain/antagonist’s back story. You don’t have to know it right off the bat, but they have to have a reason for doing the things that they do.

Look at Voldemort for example. Good old Voldy, is a great antagonist and villain. He wants to wipe out all witches and wizards who aren’t “pure bloods.” Yes he is terrible and evil, but why? Turns out he suffered throughout most of his childhood and he himself isn’t a pure blood.voldy

Voldemort’s back story makes him seem more real, more “human.” It sure as hell doesn’t make him less evil, but it gives him more dimension as a character and makes us feel for him (even if it is just a little bit.)

Your antagonists need to feel as real to the reader as your protagonists do.

Look at the tv show, Once Upon a Time. If you’ve watched it, you’ve seen how complex their antagonists are. One minute they are working with the protagonists and the next, against them. You can see the things they do and why they do it. It’s one of the many things that have really drawn me into the show and the story. That and Regina is pretty damn amazing.

regina

And I guess that’s where I’m stuck right now. I need an amazing antagonist, even if it is just the hint of one that will be further developed as the novel progresses. I want to have a difficult love/hate relationship. I guess what I am looking for is a complex character, who have a similar relationship to the protagonist of my novel as seen in Once Upon a Time.

How is your antagonist development coming along?

What do you do to create a good “bad guy”?

15 thoughts on “NaNo Prep #3- Convincing Antagonists

  1. authorleighmichaels says:

    I honestly don’t do prep on my antagonists. I find that their development tends to come as the story moves along. I don’t usually know why they’re doing what they’re doing until they do it. Then it comes out.

    Very good points though – I definitely agree that antagonists need to be developed as people just as much as protagonists do. Otherwise the story won’t be very realistic.

  2. Caroline S. says:

    In my revisions my most active antagonist is turing into a good guy, so I have no idea where this is going to lead me! I’m thinking it’s going to encourage me to bring in my more distant, and main, antagonist more. I’m working with Myers-Briggs personality types right now and they are really helping me understand my characters more, even though it’s leading me in directions I hadn’t expected, I really like it as a writing tool!

  3. dianatierney3 says:

    Lol i JUST started working on my antagonist. I wrote a short story based involving her, sat back and thought “is it bad that i have more in common with the villain than i do the protagonist?”

    I love complex meaty villains, my two favorites being Loki and Regina. So i feel like i need to create someone equally as diabolically delicious.

    • amandasnoseinabook says:

      Villains are often more exciting than protagonists for me. While I love protagonists in books I read, there is nothing better than an awesome villain that makes that character’s life a living hell.

      Sometimes it is fun to think— if I were a villain in a novel, what would I be like? 😉

      Diabolically delicious— love it (and I think I’m going to use it on Saturday at my NaNo kickoff) <3

  4. Megan Sutherland says:

    My main evil character from my books is an wizard prince. From Book 1 I wasn’t sure why he was so angry and evil, but as I worked through the books and his character sketch/backstory, I discovered why he ticked. His history made him human and able to relate to, but nonetheless evil.
    You’re on the right path!!! Let things unfold as they will. Not everything has to be planned out perfectly. Put pen to paper and write! Then let me read it 🙂

    • amandasnoseinabook says:

      I don’t want to plan things out too much, but I think I came up with more things that I can work with on my lunch hour today. After I type it up (even though it’s in questionnaire format) I will try to send it to you. I will probably do that tonight and send it your way tomorrow.

      Things about my antagonist will probably change and that character might not end up being the bad guy, but it would be so much fun!

  5. christineplouvier says:

    I didn’t have a bad guy in my first book, although there are a couple of characters that readers reported not liking (and for good cause). But I have more than enough bad guys to deal with in my WIP. All I can say is, “ICKY!”

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