As the Christmas decorations start coming down, there is an element of wistfulness that remains. Even though the reality of Peace on Earth is not yet fact, many have enjoyed the feeling of Peace and LOVE, and I join them in wanting to hold on to that. However—as I conclude this year’s discussion on the characters we’re creating within our books—I must offer a few closing thoughts about the antagonist character. That person is (after all) the balance, the weight on the opposing scale, for the hero of the story. Yes, we certainly have many “opposing weights” in this world (in history and present times) to use as examples. But rather than name-names, let’s simply look at components that make the bad guys, bad.
POWER. History teaches us that this one element holds the key to corrupting the ethics of even the most honest and compassionate human being. Abraham Lincoln is quoted saying: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”
HATE. Author Steve Maraboli provides an excellent description of this concept and how infectious it becomes. Steve says: “Most haters are stuck in a poisonous mental prison of jealousy and self-doubt that blinds them….” The picture of a “poisonous mental prison” is exactly the element that can help a writer understand the Antagonist character.
FEAR. This emotion is often recognized by scientists as the “first emotion” in humans—associated with survival. An old German Proverb makes it easier to understand: “Fear makes the wolf bigger than he really is.” So, when the antagonist fears the protagonist (and other characters) in your story, bad things stir within them, causing harmful acts.
CONVICTION. This element is needed in both the antagonist and protagonist and allows writers to develop scenes ranging from subtle, quiet conversations to full-blown war. Daniel Webster (the dictionary writer) said: “A strong conviction that something must be done is the parent of many bad measures.” So true…especially when your antagonist character decides to blow up the bridge—killing 20-30 people—when a simple blockade would do.
Lastly, an antagonistic element that has been more recently recognized and defined is DISSOCIATIVE DISORDER. When humans “disconnect” from society (family, community, etc.) all the characters in the story are adversely affected. This character would suffer depression, anxiety and have a distorted perception of people and things around them. Their own sense of identity would blur and become fragmented. Today there is a whole career path in the field of Criminal Psychology, helping law enforcement deal with the thoughts and beliefs of “characters” that play a role in initiating and sustaining criminal behavior.
So it is, my writing friends, that as this year of 2014 comes to a close, I remind you of absolute need for BALANCE in story-writing. Developing your protagonist and antagonist characters (as you “sit” them around the table) may possibly be your biggest challenge with the greatest reward. Readers today love the detail and are more informed about the world and people who inhabit it than ever before. That’s great…because writers have an ever growing “pool” of characters to use as examples in the blending of our “people-on-the-pages.”
May 2015 bring you new ideas, faster typing fingers, and just the right self-publisher to make all your dreams come true!
|ABOUT ROYALENE DOYLE: Royalene Doyle is a Ghostwriter with Outskirts Press, bringing more than 35 years of writing experience to authors who need “just a little assistance” with completing their writing projects. She has worked with both experienced and fledgling writers helping complete projects in multiple genres. When a writer brings the passion they have for their work and combines it with Royalene’s passion to see the finished project in print, books are published and the writer’s legacy is passed forward.|