Antagonist April: Links & References

Below, you will find links for the 12 blog posts from Antagonist April:

Week #1

Antagonist April: Week #1 – What is an Antagonist? – Part One

Antagonist April: Week #1 – What is an Antagonist? – Part Two

Antagonist April: Week #1 – What is an Antagonist? – Part Three

Week #2

Antagonist April: Week #2 – Developing An Antagonist – Part One

Antagonist April: Week #2 – Developing An Antagonist – Part Two

Antagonist April: Week #2 – Developing An Antagonist – Part Three

Week #3

Antagonist April: Week #3 – Antagonist Case Study #1, Veronica Corningstone (Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy)

Antagonist April: Week #3 – Antagonist Case Study #2, Paul Dreyfus (Dante’s Peak)

Antagonist April: Week #3 – Antagonist Case Study #3, Colm Doherty (The Banshees of Inisherin)

Week #4

Antagonist April: Week #4 – Antagonist Writing Exercise: Do Your Own Case Study

Antagonist April: Week #4 – Antagonist Writing Exercises, Part One

Antagonist April: Week #4 – Antagonist Writing Exercises, Part Two

In several posts, I referenced a variety of sources when discussing antagonists. Below is a list of those books:

  • Abrams, M.H. A Glossary of Literary Terms.  Harcourt Brace, 1999.
  • Dancyger, Ken & Jeff Rush. Alternative Scriptwriting. Focal Press, 2007.
  • Edson, Eric. The Story Solution. Michael Wiese Productions, 2011.
  • Egri, Lajos. The Art of Dramatic Writing. Simon & Schuster, 2004.
  • McKee, Robert. Story. Harper Collins, 1997.
  • Truby, John. The Anatomy of Story. Faber and Faber, 2007.
  • Vogler, Christopher. The Writer’s Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers. Michael Wiese Productions, 1998.

I hope you enjoyed this adventure into antagonists as much as I did. Happy Writing, and I’ll see you in June!

Antagonist April: Week #2 – Developing An Antagonist – Part Three

It’s Antagonist April, and all this month, I’ll be doing a deep dive into those characters that give our heroes and main characters opposition to their goals.  This week, we’ll discuss developing a compelling antagonist for your story.

Let’s continue!

Let’s Talk About the Opposition to the Opposition

After all, without this individual, the antagonist would have free reign to create chaos and do whatever they want.  And while that’s fine in theory, the protagonist exists to give the antagonist some pushback against what they want to achieve.  This, in turn, creates conflict, increasing the story’s stakes.

Both characters need to have something to lose if they fail.  The back and forth between the two should lead to an escalation in the stakes, and this escalation helps to propel the story forward.  

“For the actions of the main character to be experienced as heroic, you need a very powerful antagonist.  The more powerful the antagonist, the greater the likelihood that the main character will be perceived as heroic” (Dancyger & Rush 60).  Let’s talk about a familiar movie: Die Hard.

When John McClane enters Nakatomi Plaza, he’s an unarmed NYPD cop just there to visit his ex-wife during a Christmas party.  Little does he know that Hans Gruber and his goons are on their way to disrupt and wreak havoc throughout the building.  

McClane is outnumbered but slowly takes out the opposition, goon by goon.  But Gruber has the upper hand all the way to the climax when he has McClane’s wife at gunpoint, and stakes are escalated to a fever pitch.  

Die Hard shows us that it’s okay – in fact, important – that your antagonist be stronger and more resourceful than the hero.  Suppose they begin their conflict at the same level, or the protagonist has the upper hand from the start.  In that case, it can drain any potential conflict or drama from the story.  So, knock that hero off his pedestal.  Have him wrongly accused of murder (The Fugitive), have them captured by terrorists and seriously injured (Iron Man), or send them to law school where they’re ostracized and an outsider (Legally Blonde).  

At the same time, make sure the antagonist has the upper hand.  They have all the tools, resources, and people to cause problems for the main character.  Make the hero work for their goal, and allow the antagonist to enjoy their time, making the hero suffer.

Have Fun

I’ve said this in past posts, but it’s worth repeating: you must have fun and enjoy the process.  Writing can be challenging, but creating a compelling narrative with strong characters should be an enjoyable experience.  

Creating and developing a worthy opponent for your hero can be a cathartic experience.  Most antagonists play by their own rules and moral code, so you can have a great time making them as eccentric and evil as you wish.  This is the time to get it out on the page and explore this character’s many dimensions.

What can you bring to your antagonist that will make your hero fight harder than they ever have?  What can you create that will make readers perk up even more when the antagonist appears?  

If you are having issues and problems with your antagonist, you may want to look at their relationship with the protagonist and figure out how to mold the opposition into a character that really gets under the hero’s skin.  One thing to think about as you create this important character is that “[a]ttacking the hero’s weakness is the central purpose of the opponent” (Truby 95). 

Play around, enjoy the process, and have fun creating this key character in your story!

Week #2 Wrap-Up

This week we explored ways to develop a strong antagonist for your story.  We discussed crafting a backstory for the character to give them depth and events in their past that could influence their current actions.  We discussed their motivations within your story and talked about why they oppose the protagonist.  

Then we discussed crafting an arc for your antagonist and ways you can elevate this character from a one-dimensional villain to a person with substance and nuance.

And finally, we discussed how this character’s role is to make life hard for the hero.  

Once again, I’ve enjoyed sharing my thoughts and insights on antagonists, and I look forward to sharing more with you in the coming weeks.

Starting Monday, we’ll look at Case Studies focused on three movie antagonists.  See you then!


Dancyger, Ken & Jeff Rush.  Alternative Scriptwriting.  Focal Press, 2007.

Truby, John.  The Anatomy of Story.  Faber and Faber, 2007.

Antagonist April: Week #1 – What is an Antagonist? – Part Three

It’s Antagonist April, and all this month, I’ll be doing a deep dive into those characters that give our heroes and main characters opposition to their goals.  This week, we’ll explore the characteristics of an antagonist.

Let’s continue!

Help Wanted

Last time, we discussed how a narrative “requires that the Adversary be an actual person” (Edson 57).  More importantly, this needs to be a singular entity that directly opposes the main character.  That doesn’t mean, however, that the antagonist doesn’t have help.  If the hero can have allies, so can the villain.

We see this all the time in action movies and superhero movies.  The adversary sends out his legions of henchpersons and minions to eliminate, stop, kill, seduce, or maim the hero.  Of course, we know as viewers that these attempts are in vain; the protagonist will eventually come face-to-face with the antagonist, and a final battle will ensue.

When these characters aren’t just nameless, faceless drones, the story and their interactions with the main character are more interesting.  These antagonist-related characters are an extension of their boss, so while they have the same enemy – the protagonist – their tactics can vary to give them their own personalities and depth.  

And speaking of tactics…

Antagonist Tactics

An antagonist will use every resource, ally, and weapon available to them to stop the hero from achieving their goal.  Depending on the genre and situation, the sky’s the limit on how much opposition can be thrown at the protagonist throughout the story.  

Just as the protagonist is active in pursuing a goal, the antagonist must also be active in their opposition.  Pick any action movie and list all the active verbs that can be used to describe the antagonist’s tactics.  

Some basic ones could be: to stop, to kill, to pursue, to seduce, to assault, to eliminate, to destroy, to prevent, to coerce, to convince, to arrest, to capture, to chase, to imprison, to invade, to evade, to hide, to attack, etc.

The more tactics the antagonist employs, the greater the danger for the protagonist as they work to achieve their goal.  Don’t make things easy for your hero.  Make them work for what they want.  Make sure the opposition doesn’t let up and gives them a fight.

Week #1 Wrap-Up

As week one of Antagonist April comes to an end, it should be noted that “[t]he importance of the antagonist is constant across genres, but the nature of the antagonist depends on the level of realism associated with particular genres” (Dancyger & Rush 78).  While these characters should be present to create conflict, make sure that the opposition serves the story and genre you’ve chosen.  

We’ve covered a lot over the last three days.  We learned what an antagonist is and the types of antagonists.  We talked about why it’s important to only have one main antagonist in your story, how things aren’t always straightforward regarding antagonists being all bad, and the need to humanize the opposition through empathy and sympathy.  Finally, we covered the role antagonist allies can play and the various tactics an antagonist can use in a story.

I’ve had a lot of fun, and I hope you have, too!  Next week, we’ll discuss creating an antagonist for your stories and give you some tools to make that happen.

Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next week!


Dancyger, Ken & Jeff Rush.  Alternative Scriptwriting.  Focal Press, 2007.

Edson, Eric.  The Story Solution.  Michael Wiese Productions, 2011.