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, I’ll provide three days of writing exercises to explore antagonists further.
Exercise #4 – Elevating Your Antagonist
- What makes your antagonist unique?
- Do they have any hobbies?
- Do they collect anything interesting?
- Do they like music? What kind?
- Do they have any quirks that make them more relatable to an audience?
- What do they do for fun?
- When they’re not being antagonistic, what do they do in their private time alone from the world?
Humanizing your antagonist is a great way to make them relatable and real to your audience. While we explored some of these items in the previous post’s exercises, here’s your opportunity to examine and find aspects of this important character that bring them out of the realm of cliché and sculpt them into a flesh-and-blood individual.
While you may not utilize everything you think of, these elements can be dropped in from time to time in your story to give the audience a little insight into who this person is when they’re not being oppositional.
Exercise #5 – Your Antagonist’s Opposition
- Who is your antagonist opposing?
- Why are they trying to prevent them from achieving their goal?
- What is their relationship to the antagonist?
- Why does the hero feel compelled to fight against the antagonist and win?
- What would happen if the antagonist won?
While the protagonist of your story is the most important character, the antagonist must be a formidable foe there to try and stop them from reaching their goals. As you develop your main character, think about ways your antagonist can make their lives miserable throughout the story.
Too many times, new writers are afraid to make their main characters suffer, go through trials and tribulations, and have to work to get what they want. I used to have this mindset, but it changed when I realized something important about fictional characters: THEY AREN’T REAL! So go for it! Make them suffer. Make them fight back, dig in their heels, face horrible moments of doubt and pain, wanting to quit when things seem to be at their worst.
And who can dish out and inflict all those things on your main character? Your friend, the antagonist.
These two characters need each other. The story can lose its impact, conflict, and dramatic effect if no one is present, throwing opposition in their way.
Depending on the type of story, these oppositional forces can be literal or figurative. Still, they need to exist on some level for your hero to have something to fight against and through to get to the end.
And it’s your job to give them an antagonist that enhances the story and helps drive the action forward as events unfold and your hero battles through to the end.
Week #4 Wrap-Up
We’ve covered a lot over the past month, all culminating in this final week of exercises you can use to create a strong, effective, and interesting antagonist for your story.
As you take the time to create and craft the Opposition, never forget to have fun and enjoy the experience. If you have fun, your audience will as well.
Happy Writing, and I’ll see you next week!