35 Comments

  1. I have built mine on a real dude in northern Wisconsin who hides behind the vocation of a veterinarian. he’s bad but does good as a cover up.

    THANKS for all you do for us writers Kathy!

  2. Great stuff! I am writing a book and looking for a way to lighten up my antagonist. I need kids to be afraid but also to laugh. I got some great tips in this blog.

  3. Great post! These are excellent tips. I’ve used some of them already, but the others will help me take my antagonists to the next level. Thanks!

  4. Thanks Rick! That is a terrific way to go with a kids book antagonist–scary with some humor. Good luck–it sounds like you are writing a wonderful book.

  5. Thanks Dana! I have to tell you, I never regret the work I do on my antagonist. You are right, taking one to the next level always ends up with a much better book, IMHO. As a reader I find a well-developed antagonist connects me even more strongly to the protagonist and the story.

  6. Rae

    I cannot tell you enough how helpful I found these tips. I think the one that was the most useful in my case was number four, as it is the one I’ve had the most trouble with. I never realized my antagonist has yet to have any justification for his actions (or even that he needed any)!
    This was a great help to me, and many other writers I’m sure. I loved reading it as well as learning from it, and I hope I can use these tips to alter my antagonist to a more understandable villain. Isn’t it amazing how often we forget how important the antagonist is, all because we focus too much on our protagonist?

    Thank you so much for writing this, Kathy! It’s absolutely wonderful!

  7. Thanks Rae! My story really takes off when I pay attention to my antagonist, and you are absolutely right that with all the attention to the protagonist, it’s really easy to forget the other main driver of the story–the antagonist. Thank you for your comments!

  8. April Counts

    Thank you for a well thought out article. This presented some advice that I had not considered, and it will help me flesh out my antagonist.

  9. M

    So much great advice! After hitting a real block in my bad guy, this was refreshingly inspiring.

  10. Samantha

    Writing my first book! I had already developed my antagonist before even starting to type my first words. I am still in the beginning of the book and found your tips to help take a second look at his motives.

  11. Congratulations on making the commitment to write your first book, Samantha! It’s terrific to develop your antagonist early on–so good for you. Good luck, and glad this helped!

  12. Sara

    Wow, I hadn’t even thought of half of this before I read it, thank you for helping me to see what I needed to know for my book. Now my only problem is finding ulterior motives for my antagonist and his lust for power. I don’t want it to become just another ‘he took over because he enjoys ruling’ or something of the sort. Any ideas?

  13. Sara, glad it got your creative juices burning. The motivation for your antagonist will be in his past. Think of the backstory–what happened in his life when he didn’t have any power. Was it from his childhood? What is an event that made him believe the only way for him to survive was to have power? Link the need for power with an internal fear stemming from something in his past–either an event or his life circumstances, and you will have deep, meaningful motivations. You may either reveal what happened to him or better yet, allude to it and if you reveal, make it later in the story. Once it’s set in your mind, the antagonist’s actions and motivations will feel real to your reader. Thanks for your comment!

  14. maria

    Good article, but the word “elude” doesn’t apply here.(3rd line from end) It means to escape — I think you may mean refer or hint or make an allusion.

  15. D. Bravin

    This is the best book advice I’ve ever read. I’ve been thinking for years of writing a book but I’m so afraid of failure. Something missing was the lesson you taught about the antagonist in the book that really helps to shape the motions of good versus evil. Thank you so much.

  16. emma

    Thought this article included great writing advice about creating conflict in a story. Thanks a mil.

  17. Michelle

    I’m really just beginning to think I’m good enough just like anyone else, to write and I absolutely love it. I’ve been writing for years, but finally able to start putting myself out there. This advice is amazing. A previous comment was made about not even thinking about half of your advice and that’s so true for me as well. I hope to be able to share my work with a group of other writers. It would be such an honor. Thank you for the great tips. I’ll be sure to use them. A little side note, Hannibal Lecter is one of my absolute favorites. 🙂

  18. Enormously enjoyed this article :), keep up the great
    authorship and I’ll keep coming back for more. Will be sharing this with my instagram followers and I’m sure they’ll enjoy it as well!

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