know your enemy (antagonists)

There comes a time when a writer has to stop their story, turn and look at their villain, and admit that they’re phoning it in on the antagonists’ performances. I simply have not given any of my (multiple) villains the treatment that I’ve given my two main heroes. I don’t know what they’re doing while I’m focusing on my heroes. I don’t know their subplots. I don’t know what problems they’ve been going through behind the scenes.

So far I have four villains to counter my two heroes: A king, a lord, a winged bully, and a high-ranking slave. I’ve managed so far, but I just invented the last on the list (Sorche du Remerdii, the man who gave that cheeky line I mentioned here), and in a high-tension scene he feels flat.

Lesson learned: know your villains. I’ve decided that June is going to be ‘Villain Month’. Each week will be dedicated to developing and writing side-stories about one of my villains. That way I’ll be ready for my second rewrite, and I’ll be posting up character exercises, collages, and notes on development. I’ll also be exploring the extent of their power, what they can and can not do to the heroes, and why.

No flat enemies allowed.


10 thoughts on “know your enemy (antagonists)

  1. Thank you! I’m determined to do everyone in this book justice… especially the bad guys. Otherwise there’s no contrast between them and the heroes, and I’m a big tension/plotting junkie.

    Your blog looks really interesting– I’m going to go check that out. Thank you for commenting! 🙂

  2. Thumbs up for in-depth-villains. I myself love to play with the idea that there are neither absolute villains nor absolute heroes in my novel, but whichever way you choose, the deeper the characters are, the deeper the story will be. Good luck with the first draft 🙂

  3. There’s a reason why everyone loves Darth Vader. 😀

    “Each week will be dedicated to developing and writing side-stories about one of my villains.” What could be really interesting is if the villain becomes a hero for one of the side-stories. I’ve tried that before and found it creates a perspective and depth previously missing.

  4. Pingback: A Month of Villainy « Writing Frenzy

  5. Good idea to develop our villains. I’m trying to work on giving them more depth–one is a main character so has to be as complex as the main character, the other is more background. It is harder for me to develop those that aren’t so prominent in the story.

  6. Linda: Hello and welcome! 🙂

    I’ve actually opened up ‘Villain Month’ as a group effort: I’m getting close to roping a dozen writers into it– are you interested in joining?

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