Today's post is about a story's antagonist. This is the "bad guy", the opposition in a story. It's what strives to keep the main character from accomplishing their goal. And just like fleshing out our main character is important, making the antagonist as three dimensional and real as possible is also integral to a great story.
In my current WiP, this is something I've been giving a great deal of thought lately. I've started my story over and as I work to improve it on this second go 'round, I realize that the first time I created my antagonist, I made him to simplistic; I wrote him as the quintessential "bad guy". As I am adding more depth to his character however, I've discovered that he isn't truly evil. He believes what he is doing is right and the MC is getting in the way of that. He believes in the purpose he fulfills within the society. It's debatable of course whether what he is doing and how he's doing it is the right way, but he's not inherently or patently evil.
In the end, this type of dissection of my antagonist is going to make my story that much more believable. For one thing, I am able to accurately portray reasons why the antagonist chooses to be the obstacle to all my MC's goals. I'm able to personalize the story and let the reader truly see this living, breathing character. I will also hopefully create a lasting impression on the reader that makes this antagonist memorable - whether they like or "hate" the character when all is said and done.
Just to be clear, an antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be a person. Sometimes the thing that keeps your MC from making headway isn't one single person. For example, if your story is about a climber scaling Mt. Everest, your antagonist could be the mountain itself. If your MC is trying to break out of a societal norm and overcome, the antagonist could be the society itself (i.e. not one person in particular) that keeps blocking their advances. Regardless of who or what the antagonist is however, we need to make sure we can identify that entity and bring it to life on the page.
Before I go, I want to give a huge thanks to everyone who contributes and is a part of organizing the A to Z Challenge. It's a really cool thing you guys do every year and it helps drag individuals like myself back to our respective blogs.
How do you go about crafting and refining the antagonists in your story?