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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bad to the Bone

Creating the qualities of a protagonist and an antagonist are remarkably similar.

What defines your antag’s character? Does he thirst for power? Is revenge driving her actions?

Now give it a twist. What is the opposite of the attribute you’ve given him?

Assignment: Write a short paragraph that shows this quality in your antag.

Example:
Gollum looked at them. A strange expression passed over his lean hungry face. The gleam faded from his eyes and they went dim and grey, old and tired. A spasm of pain seemed to twist him and he turned away, peering back up towards the pass, shaking his head, as if engaged in some interior debate….For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.

                    The Lord of the Rings, The Two Towers  - JRR Tolkien

Gollum isn’t the worst antagonist in LOTR but he is its main persona of evil. For just a moment, he questions his motives, feels regret.

Consider how you would show this in your antag. Define what your antag wants the most. Then image the opposite of that desire. Incorporate this in your MS.

Summary. Most bad guys aren’t evil all the time – with the possible exclusion of Sauron in LOTR. Give your evilness a twist and let your antag show a little humanity.




8 comments:

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Great post! I went back to my ms recently and gave my antagonist a touch of niceness. It made him more dimensional.

mshatch said...

I always felt a little bit sorry for Gollum. I always like the idea of the protagonist being only mostly bad.

DEZMOND said...

a very interesting advice for writers!

Tara Tyler said...

i have several antagonists representing the main "bad guy" company. my fave is an evil vamp (not vampire) with boy toys and balls!

Carol Riggs said...

That's a great point! I love Gollum's regret there. And Darth Vader has his regrets too. :)

Donna Hole said...

These are interesting lessons.

I think my protags are reluctant too - but only a little. And I think pro/antags should be mostly equally matched; I hate it when the hero wins based on the villian's incompetence.

.......dhole

defcon said...

I can't stand the maniacal villains who do what they do because they want power. Bore-ring!

In the movie Captain America, I thought the weakest part (to an otherwise awesome film), was the Red Skull. Thor, however, had a fantastic villain, Loki. He has real feelings, which obviously got hurt and he good intentions, just wanted to prove himself to his father, but it was the way we went about things that made him nefarious.

And oh yes, I'm looking forward to the Avengers movie. ;)

tracikenworth said...

Another great post!! It's true if we don't show a little bit of humanity in our antagonist, it makes it that much more difficult to "identify" with them. Not saying we want to chase our "dark side" but at least if we catch a glimpse, we can understand it.