Five Antagnoists to Write Into Your Story
Every story has an antagonist, and your character needs to run into plenty of them to make a compelling tale and experience the growth needed to create a satisfying ending. But not all antagonists are enemies; some conflict can come in surprising or unpredictable ways. If you’re running low on inspiration, here are some ideas to get your character on the move.
Often when we think of a story’s enemy, a stereotype comes to mind. Perhaps it’s a man in a cape cackling over the fallen hero, or a rich man hiring assassins, or the ex-boyfriend that turned into a stalker. Some villains are out-and-out evil and genuinely want to see your character fail. They can be great in a story if you take time to develop their personality to feel as realistic and logical as the main character feels.
Not everyone who sabotages you is trying to do so. Often the person who discourages you does so out of well-meaning desire to avoid letting you get hurt. A character’s most significant emotion hurdle might come from a spouse concern about financial or relationship risk, a relative who feels the need to warn of impending dangers or even a best friend who struggles with jealousy.
The Alternate Agenda
The source of conflict in a story can come from a jerk who wants to build his company on the inherited land of a Mom and Pop Shop, to two generally-sweet little ladies who are competing to take the prize for the best pie, to an experienced guide who wants to take a different trail than the rookie in charge is headed toward. In every case, limited resources cause only one person to come ahead and little or no room for compromise. Even the best of friendships will feel the strain.
Elements that are beyond your character’s control can give a non-human source of conflict. Nature’s fury, war, cultural beliefs, illnesses, and lack of resources for survival can wreak their own havoc and cause a deep well to draw upon when you’re making things difficult for your character.
What your character believes about himself and the world will influence his reaction to circumstances and people that make up the storyline. These could take the form of lack of confidence, childhood development, a poverty mindset or scarcity mentality or character flaws and addictions.
If you struggle to keep the steam in a storyline, choose one of the elements you haven’t tried. Raise the stakes – higher than you know how to solve. Create chaos. Then sit back and trust your character. Don’t worry. Characters want to survive as much as we do: he’ll come up with brilliant plans – or go down fighting. Either way, adding layers of problems to your plot will create inspiration and the drive to get you to that final page.