How to write Compelling Antagonists

The Immoral Antagonist
This is easily the most popular form of antagonist. The bad guy is one readers will have no trouble hating. He is usually set in clear contrast against the good-guy hero. The lines are drawn in varying shades of black and white, and readers have no problem choosing whom to root for.

1. The Hypocrite
The hypocrite is an antagonist who feigns goodness. He may be guilty of all sorts of treachery and evil, but on the surface he’s all honey and sunshine. He puts a righteous face on his misdeeds (perhaps even accusing the protagonist of hypocrisy to disguise his own), but the reader knows the truth: this guy is not just bad, he’s a fake. And we hate him all the more for it.

2. The Psycho
A mainstay of horror stories, this guy is just evil all the way through. He has no excuses, no thread of goodness leading him back to redemption. He’s just bad. And crazy on top of it. Serial killers, genocidal world leaders, and sadists fit the bill to a T. Not only do readers hate psycho bad guys—they’re scared to death of them.

3. The Regular Person Forced to Do Bad Things for an Illegitimate Reason
Most antagonists—in life as well as fiction—aren’t moustache-twirling, maniacally laughing whackos. Most of them are just regular Joes who have let their weaknesses get the better of them. Lust, greed, and hatred can drive even ordinary people to do extraordinary evil.

The Moral Antagonist
In the moral antagonist we find a more complicated—and often more compelling—character, since he presents more parallels than contrasts with the protagonist. This is a person who is doing the right thing—as he sees it—and usually for the right reasons, but who has nonetheless been forced to do battle with your hero, thanks to the requirements of your story’s overall conflict.

1. The Good Guy on the Opposing Side
Not all stories are going to offer an epic battle between good and evil. Sometimes the conflict will allow good people with opposing views to appear on both sides of the battle lines. Lawyers fighting each other for causes in which they each believe passionately, football teams competing for a championship, two love interests trying to win the same girl—none of them have to be inherently bad. Stories of this nature can provide all kinds of interesting possibilities for exploring the grey areas of life, relationships, and morality.

2. The Crusader
The crusader can be an insanely scary bad guy in his own right. This is someone who fiercely believes he is doing the right thing, and indeed he may well be fighting for a good cause. He may be someone who believes he has to choose between the lesser of two evils in his decisions. Or he may be someone driven to fanaticism—and thus dangerous decisions—by his passion for his cause. In fact, he may be just plain out right, while the protagonist is the one who’s wrong.

3. The Regular Person Forced to Do Bad Things for a Legitimate Reason
Sometimes even essentially good people end up doing bad things because they feel they have no choice. A character who robs a bank to pay for his wife’s operation or to save himself from the Mafia’s threats may be a hero in his own right—or he may be a compelling and relatable antagonist to the detective protagonist who has to go after him.

The Excitement of Writing in Any Genre

I definitely agree with the Robin McKinley quote that a friend recently posted. Even with a plot, I don’t know any authors (and I know a few) who are in complete control of the story. The feeling — I’m told — doesn’t go away. Even for award-winning, New York Times best-selling authors. (Which I’m NOT.) I think this excitement goes hand-in-hand with a certain amount of fear. But also like that McKinley says, “if books are going to get written, authors have to be able to write them.” It’s a good chance for personal growth.

2 Years Later ( April 2013)

I haven’t written in How to Make an Atlas in about 2 years now. I went on with life and made new blogs. I guess I felt I needed a new start… I suppose I felt like I was transforming out of that little cynical and hopeless black boy who started this blog. It first stared after I moved out of Apartment #2..

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I made a new blog that documented some of my life in a new house with a new friend that would eventually change my life, forever. However, as time went by, I was unable to stop my infectious personality from its overbearing tendencies… i smothered everyone in that house with my incomplete personality until they chopped me. Well… thats the simple way to put it, the truth is actually in the romantic relationship that I had with the friend who invited me to stay with her… but I wouldnt come to find out the truth, analyze the parts played or even process the growth until years later after the end of the world..

She kicked me out. And having nowhere left to turn to in Minneapolis I desperately flew to California where the final pieces of my glued-back-together heart fell apart.

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Months passed at year’s pace. I stayed in a beautiful neighborhood with my mother’s half-brother and his husband in a city near San Francisco. I had nothing. I “was” nothing. Well… I was alone.

I spent most of my time stuck on a always-sunny hill trying to connect with my mothers family. Trying to connect my DNA to someone; An auntie, a grandmother, a grandfather, a cousin, a niece - SOMEONE - for I had no family life on my fathers side of the blood. No one would receive me. I found out I was connected to nothing..
No roots, No tree, No family, No history past my own life experience so far. All I did was go to school day in and day out…at first denying the depression… then coping the depression with compulsive eating and masturbation. I would wake up in the middle of the night alot, usually only sleeping on the left side of the bed with thunderstorm noises playing from a Youtube video on my phone to drown out the nothing. Waking hours were spent texting ex-girlfriends from Minnesota and watching Tv in my Uncle’s fancy house alone. Eventually… there was a small dog. And I do remember writing alot.

After several months passed, after the last person I loved told me how soon she slept with someone else after I left to California, after not being set up with a job, after not finding family, after not finding any friends, after not having anyone to talk to, after not having anyone to affirm me, after watching everyone’s good times and status updates on twitter and facebook, I snapped… silently. I decided I had to go back to Minneapolis.. I ended up giving my brain completely to this regimen of meditation, fasting, working out just after waking up and just before going to sleep every single day without fail. Writing was my therapy, Music became my girlfriend and I found that my mind had somehow changed.

I completed my high school exit exams on Wednesday, November 7th, 2012 around about 2:30pm in the afternoon… I got on a plane to Minnesota on Thursday, November 8th, 2012 at 10:00pm. I remember there was alot of turbulence on that flight… i thought I was going to die. I think I remember crying to myself.

I thought I returned to Minneapolis a changed man at the best of his abilities.. But.. I would come to find out instead that even though I completed my personality and acquired the ambition and vision and fearlessness I had always wanted, that there was one more thing inside of me that would lead to a series of heartbreaks and betrayals for the next 5 months; and not to me, but FROM me: my father’s essence.

It took me a while to figure it out. Why was I so angry? Why was my energy so hostile? Why did my mood swing? How come my power felt so destructive though I desired to be a healer?

I was in a complete state of amazement at the evil I’d done. How i’d broken my girlfriend’s heart for another girl who I merely romanticized and rationally justified in the moment. It was the largest scale of a pattern of desperate thought and instant gratification i’d been fighting my whole life. “there’s some thing inside me..” i kept thinking to myself until in a spark of intuition and insight biology, history, chemistry, and meditation came together to lead me to an answer that was inside me on a cellular level; “its in my nature.”
And its in my nature because its in my father’s nature. Its negative black energy passed over from his and my mom’s life before me; Its information left in my genetic code. Its the thoughts I think that create my new blood cells; E-motions; energy motions; vibrations that effect the my nervous system and my endocrine system; my body was in control of my life…

..”My mind is in control of my body; my animal nature”… I had to change my mind, change my body, and change the vibration my essence works on. An epiphany that would change my life psychologically, racially, socially, romantically, physically and spiritually here in April 2013.

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