10 Essential Tips for Writing Antagonists

10 Essential Tips for Writing Antagonists

In this post, we discuss 10 essential tips for writing antagonists.

I find that beginner writers have often not thought through the role of the antagonist in their novels. Sometimes they don’t even have an antagonist. This is a problem when you have to write 80 000 words and your protagonist does not have an adversary.

10 Essential Tips for Writing Antagonists

These 10 Tips for Writing Antagonists will help writers when they are creating this vital role in their novel.

  1. The antagonist is the character who MOST stands in the way of the protagonist achieving the story goal.
  2. He or she is known as the villain but need not be evil.
  3. The antagonist’s goal is in direct conflict with the goal of the protagonist.
  4. It is better if your villain is a person, not a force of nature (earthquake, flood), a group (gang, big company) or a general life condition (poverty, corruption).
  5. The antagonist should be equal in strength to your protagonist in order to fight a good fight.
  6. The best antagonist is someone who already plays a part in your protagonist’s life.
  7. Create a character whose motivation for opposing the protagonist’s story goal is as strong and logical as the hero’s reason for opposing the antagonist’s goal.
  8. The antagonist does not have to work from a negative motivation. If the roles were reversed the villain could become the protagonist.
  9. A great antagonist believes that his motivations are valid and his actions justified.
  10. Never create an antagonist who exists merely to obstruct the lead. You will end up with a shallow stereotypical character.

Suggested reading: The 4 Main Characters As Literary Devices

[Use our Character Creation Kit to create great characters for your stories.]

by Amanda Patterson

© Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 13th August 2013
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