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Creating Fictional Characters: The Antagonist(s)

Essentially speaking, the villain is just a supporting character who is usually an antagonist in the story. Notice I didn’t say the antagonist. Why? Because there can be many antagonists in the story but just like your regular supporting characters, you have the main antagonist (MA) and then what I call the lesser antagonist (LA). And the concept is exactly the same as the lead support and the lesser support. So no need to go over it.

The antagonists are the ones the MC is usually in conflict with (if we’re talking about a character conflict because there are many other kinds that I’ll get into later… Maybe next week). These are the people that usually force the MC to act, the people that just gets on the MC’s nerve and makes it their business to do so… or maybe they don’t do it on purpose, but they always somehow interfere with the MC’s life and the MC makes it their job to stop them or make them back off. The technical term is actually antagonist, not the villain. When we’re talking villains, we’re talking straight up evil bad guys like the Joker, Voldemort, Rido (Vampire Knight for those who don’t know), Team Galactic (Pokemon). And all these people are antagonists, but the antagonist doesn’t have to be the villain. It can just be the person that gets on the MC’s nerve or is simply the rival. Those are people like Hatsumomo (Memoirs of a Geisha), that popular girl in the Princess Diaries that irritated the hell out of Mia, and others. They’re not really bad people per say in the sense of a ‘villain’ but they do their best to get on the MC’s nerve. Get it? So now we understand the difference between a villain and an antagonist.

So how do we go about creating an antagonist? Well, the same way you create the MC except the antagonist is usually everything the MC stands against. So that means if you want your readers to be on the MC’s side, you have to make the antagonist the type of person we all love to hate. When I say that, I mean you need to take time with your villains. Give them personality. Don’t just make an evil bad guy for the sake of evil and wanting to destroy the world and don’t make them mean for the sake of being mean to the MC. Give us a reason. Hatsumomo was jealous of Sayuri and afraid she would take her place, Joker just liked mayhem and wanted Batman to cross the thin line between good and evil, and the girl who irritated the hell out of Mia thought she was a dork and better than Mia as shallow as that is. The days of being evil just to be evil are over! There has to be some reason that we can understand And we love antagonists who have the upper hand, who have style, who can get away with their antagonizing of the MC because the bigger they are, the harder they fall and when the MC finally overcomes, it’s just so sweet. So you follow the exact same steps you’d follow when making the MC. But again, they can’t outshine the MC.

So let’s discuss some of the different types of antagonist because I was reading in a forum and there was someone who said they were tired of the same old villains who seemed to be glorified and always have the advantage over the MC and I was like… that’s the point. But if he wants something different…

The Evil Bad Guy: These types of antagonists are usually always villains and are almost always MA’s in stories. These are people like Joker, Voldemort, Rido, Team Galactic, the people who not only pose a threat to the MC, but also to humanity in general. Make sure when writing these not to fall into the stereotypes of just wanting to destroy the world, because to be honest, unless you antagonist just wants to die and take the who world with it, that’s stupid.

The Good Guy Gone Bad: Anakin Skywalker always comes to mind when I think of this one, and it’s because we always feel bad about the good guy gone bad, our reasons for hating them are different than the other antagonists. We usually hate them because they used to be the good guy and they sold out or made a dumb mistake that cost them everything including their morality. We can also have sympathy because a lot of times the good guy who went bad just had a lot of bad things happen that he couldn’t handle. They can be the main or the lesser. In Star Wars, we thought Darth Vader was the MA and he was in A New Hope, but we came to find out that he wasn’t. It was Palpatine.

The Manipulative Bastard: Oh I can name many who fall in this and they don’t always have to be the main antagonists. This is where Hatsumomo comes in, Azula (The Last Airbender), Palpatine, and Lex Luther (why can’t someone just go ahead and kill this guy!). These are the antagonist that can trick you and you don’t even know you’re being tricked, who can make you play right into their hand and kill you with a smile on their face. They can be both the main and lesser antagonists and they love to get into the head of the MC, to make the MC feel bad about themselves or even good to give them a false sense of security before they strike. They’re always calm and cool and they’re my favorite types with wonderful personalities usually because they seem so appealing.

The Psychopath: Norton Bates (Psycho) and Joker. Enough said. These are the mad men who are just crapping crazy. Bates had a fetish for his dead mother who it turns out he killed and Joker just loved to watch people go nuts and people have to love them. They’re so crazy their funny, but also so sadistic it’s unbelievable and they have the strangest personalities. I can’t even describe how the writer would go about writing one. I can write one. I’ve done it. But as for explaining it… Let’s just say my family was concerned. Anyway, these people are almost always the villain whether they’re a threat to humanity or not because these types almost always don’t care about the wellbeing of others. They’re almost always the main antagonist.

The Rival: This person isn’t really evil, but again, the get on the MC’s nerve and stand in their way. That’s Hatsumomo again, Gary or Shigeru, Paul or Shinji, Trip or Shooti (Pokemon People) and the girl that got on Mia’s nerve in Princes Diaries. Now just because they aren’t necessarily evil doesn’t mean they can’t be cold, malicious, downright mean, but they aren’t trying to destroy all of humanity (most of the time). They’re just after or in competition with their rival. These people can be the main antagonist, but they don’t have to be.

The Bad Ass: These are the villains who don’t give a damn what anyone says and don’t care about the consequences. They want their way and they don’t mind getting in the way of the MC to do it. Catwoman could probably fall into this category and so could Joker, Darth Vader, and Azula. Even some of the antagonists who aren’t villains can fall into this. I would say Hatsumomo, but she was too subtle be a straight up one of these. Mind you, these types of antagonists can be psychopaths, but they don’t have to be. They can just be bad. They don’t have to be the main antagonist. In fact it’s more interesting when they’re not because that makes then a bit of the anti-villain I guess you could say. It’s like this, Catwoman is bad when she wants to be but occasionally will team up with Batman which kind of makes her even more frustrating.

There are so many different types of villains it’s crazy, and I’d be all day trying to list them all. So here. Go to this site for the types of antagonist and villains. You’ll get a variety of types and tropes so you can write and create villains and antagonists all day long.

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