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Sunday, June 24, 2012

How to Create a Different Kind of Antagonist

The best villain for your story may not be a moustache twirling bad boy. After all, moustache wax is a tad out of fashion. Take a look at this list and see what other options may fit your next work in progress.

The Protagonist
Yes, you read that right. Your protagonist can be her own worst enemy. Take a look at her faults. Or try something more difficult. Maybe you could create a situation where her strengths are her greatest handicap. Her issue could be as soap opera as amnesia. Will she remember what she has forgotten in time to save the day? Or maybe it is as ordinary as bad self esteem. She only has three days to apply for the fellowship if she can work up the nerve to do it.

The Best Friend
Your main character has a goal. What happens when her best friend wants the same thing and only one can prevail? Or maybe they don’t want the same thing but opposite things. Obviously, someone is going to have to learn to live with disappointment, but which one? And what is each person willing to do to assure that she is the winner? You can make this especially tense if your main character has a reason to let her best friend win.

Animal Agony
What if it is a creature who’s got your main character’s goat? A furiously digging armadillo has destroyed the landscaping job that will keep her fledgling company in business. An endangered species has put the development project she needs to jump start her career on hold. We’ve all dealt with them, the feathered, furred and finned that simply will not mind their manners.

Mother Nature
Bigger and broader than an animal pest is Nature as an opponent. A threatening storm, a towering mountain or stormy seas can all put your character’s hopes in peril. Not sure how this might work? You do remember a wee little boat called the Titanic, don’t you?

The next time you need to throw something between your character and her goal, think of something other than your stereotypic bad boy – unless of course, you’re writing a steamy romance!


Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey.


  1. Sue--

    I had completely forgotten about "self sabotage" even though that is the main villain in my own life.

    Thanks for a great post. I don't usually do fiction, but who may have inspired me to write a short story.

  2. A couple "NATURE" villain books: HATCHET--nature is a beast in that book to Brian the main character and THE PERFECT STORM--of course! :) Great ideas, here, Sue.

  3. Sioux,
    Self-sabotage is the villain in my current Work-in-progress so it was prominent in my thoughts right now.

    The Perfect Storm. Of course! I always think of Hatchet but now I have a second example. Thank you!


  4. Even in a steamy romance, self-sabotage works. ;) Maybe not happily.... It's the villain in my current work, too.


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