Sorry for a bit of a hiatus on the blog posts. It’s still winter break for some, and for those of us on the East Coast, there’s been a lot of snow and a lot of snow days. My time has been spent shoveling, reading, and shoveling some more.
But something of great magnitude happened this past week besides the unnatural amount of snow:
One of my great Beta Readers for The Sound of Color finally got back with me. Overall, she gave me very high praise (which felt amazing). But maybe even better, she gave me some really good insight into what the story lacked.
And what needed the most work?
My antagonist(s). Both my Main Antag and my Sidekick Antag are characters that we THINK are good but turn out to be evil. (*cue the menacing laughter*)
But this Beta Reader suggested that I needed to work on them a little more. You see, I’d never really stopped to think about why my antag(s) wanted what they did. Sure, power always looks good. But why? Why them? Why would they do what they do? And just as important, how did they get people to follow them?
In other words, my antagonists read as plot devices instead of characters. They were an evil force instead of a warped individual. The result was a fatal flaw in my story.
In most of my favorite stories, the villain is someone with a distinct personality, a concrete set of goals, a thought-out plan, and – most importantly – strong motivation.
Part of the issue is that I never took the time to really get to know my antagonist. I’d never given much thought to his motivation, his personality, his goals. He pretty much showed up to cause some trouble and then disappeared again. He wasn’t someone I know very well.
Voldemort, Loki, Darth Vader, Moriarty, the Joker, Saint Dane, President Snow – they are all people that I could describe to you better than I could describe my OWN antagonist.
So here’s to getting to know my Antag. (I can’t say his name cause it’s a spoiler.) To adding some scenes that show us his motivation. To giving him more personality, more life. To making him the hero of his own story.
If you struggle equally with writing a quality Bad Guy, let me know! An antagonist always seems like an afterthought to me. Or, if you’ve developed some tricks and tips to making your antag fabulous, I’d love to hear that too.