After rereading a much earlier story, I found that this is the relationship between my characters:
Hero: You will never win, Mr. Evil McVillian!
Villain: I will destroy the world!
Hero: But why?
Villain: I don’t know. I’m evil. Sam needed someone to try to stop you on your quest. Why do you hate me so much?
Hero: Sam gave oodles of thought to that. You burned down my village when I was a baby and hurt a lot of people.
Villain: Now, why would I do that?
Hero: I don’t know. Part of being evil I guess. Oh, wait! I hear Sam coming to finish off our battle. You’ll never win!
Pretty bad, right? In many of my earlier manuscripts, I’d just learned about planning out characters and I decided that I needed to do this to become a better writer. The problem was, I only planned out my main character. The other characters, I decided, were just there to carry the story along. In order to write a strong story, your antagonist needs to have several of the following elements:
1. Have a reason to dislike the main character.
(Perhaps the main character always shows him up at athletics)
2. Believe in a lie.
(That the main character despises him and spends all of his time figuring out how to embarrass him)
3. Several other things that he cares about.
( Track and field, his job at the fast food restaurant)
4. A point that he turned against the protagonist.
(When the protagonist accidently tripped him in gym and he sprained his ankle, thus disabling him to try out for the Track team)
5. A life outside of trying to foil the protagonist
(An afterschool job, etc)
Your antagonist doesn’t even have to be a horrible person. An antagonist is simply someone who stands in the way of the main character achieving his goal. If two friends try out for the basketball team, but there’s only one spot available, then they instantly become each others’ antagonists.
Now, let’s examine some of my favorite antagonists:
Luke, of the Percy Jackson series is a powerful one because he used to be Percy’s friend. Eventually though, he became sick of watching the Greek Gods take advantage of humans and he turns to the darker side.
Snape of the Harry Potter series is also a good example of a misunderstood villain. He’s a villain who appears to despise Harry Potter, but in the end, we realize that Snape was trying to protect him all along.
In the Hunger Games trilogy, it could be said that the tributes are each others’ antagonists, but the group has a common enemy: the Capitol and President Snow. Those antagonists are perfect for my demonstration because they believe the lie that they are powerful enough to overcome any obstacle and as a result, they underestimate Katniss.
In conclusion, Antagonists are major characters and they deserve to be treated as such. While I’m not going to trot around with a sign saying ANTAGONISTS: EQUAL RIGHTS FOR ALL, please think out your antagonist and his goals before you begin writing.
TRY THIS!: Find a scene in your story that includes the antagonist and rewrite it from the antagonist’s point of view.