Thursday, June 9, 2011

Antagonists- a love/hate relationship!

Antagonists are my writing nemesis. I love a great antagonist like Snape from Harry Potter. He is complex and duplicitous but consistent in his actions once you understand his motivations.

However, when it comes to building an antagonist from scratch for my novels I find that I don't channel evil well. They usually are shallow and show up many just to torture my protagonist. Which is the antagonists job of course but a job doesn't make a character well-rounded. Their hopes, dreams, goals, and heartbreak make them who they are.

Take Dr. Doofenschmirtz from Phineas and Ferb. He has ambition, drive and a dream of ruling the "Tri-State area." All that he does is to meet that one goal. Obsessive yes. But also funny and quirky and fun. Not very complicated.

I've spent about a week trying to capture the essence of my antagonist and build an evil soul-stealing witch into something real and scary rather than just a cookie-cutter bad girl. Wish me luck. I'm trying to channel the dark side and my own fear of the dark makes exploring these traits a true exercise in creativity.

What antagonists do you love to hate and why?


  1. I agree. Snape is one of my favorites. Like you said, he's complicated. I have a hard time writing complicated bad guys, too.

  2. Ditto on the Snape love. He is my favorite Potter character. Another of my favorites happens to have also been played by Alan Rickman - the terrorist in Die Hard. Others that made an impression: Hannibal Lechter, Annie Wilkes, Kevin Spacey's character in Swimming with Sharks, and James Spader's character in Pretty in Pink.

  3. One of my favorite quotes from a writers conference comes from Jeff Savage:

    "The best villains are like the hero if the hero had taken a different path."

    Too true!