Today were going to do something similar to —- but different from —- yesterday’s prompt.
Today is the turn of the antagonist or the villain.
Write a story in which the antagonist or villain shows the reader what your protagonist could easily become if they gave in to their flaw
A villain and an antagonist are not necessarily the same things. A villain seeks to harm your main protagonist, whereas an antagonist might merely get in their way. Do you remember the TV series Rhoda? Rhoda’s mother was not a villain, but she certainly got the main character’s way.
This exercise probably works best with someone who’s at least a little villainous. Choose a protagonist you we can mostly admire (it could be the person from yesterday’s story). Think about who would be a good opposing force for this character.
Some of the best villainous pairings in literature are ones where the villain and the protagonists can be seen as being somewhat alike. Think of the BBC’s Sherlock climactic scene in “The Reichenbach Fall”. Morality and Sherlock are on the roof of St. Bart’s Hospital. Moriarty leans in and says, “You’re just like me Sherlock, except you’re on the side of the angels”. What character trait can you give your protagonist that, when pushed too far, would transform them into a villain?
Create a protagonist and a villain on either side of this coin and put them in a simple story where they oppose each other.
**Leave a comment letting us know what character traits you gave your villain.]
Write a open letter from a misunderstood character
Nobody loves the traffic warden. Or the referee. Or the person who tells you that yes, it’s going to be a root canal. But these people are, well, people, aren’t they?
Write an open letter to the world from an unloved character
- You can use one of society’s whipping boys, such as the traffic warden, or you can use a fictional character (such as the witch from Hansel and Gretel — try to stick to characters that are in the public domain if you’re going to publish/post this anywhere)
- The story can be a ‘day in the life’ story, where we *see* the character in a more sympathetic way, if you don’t fancy the idea of the open letter format.
- The open letter could be in the form of a list of things we didn’t know about the maligned character or it could be an impassioned defense of their kind.
- The character can be sad, angry, arrogant, pleading…whatever seems right.
I know, I know, I included villains and antagonists in yesterday’s prompt, but today we’re focusing on them.
Pick An Antagonist Type
If you’ve been following along with the prompts this week, you’ll already have worked on a flawed main character and a targeted secondary character. That secondary character may even have been an antagonist (a villain). So why am I talking about them again?
It’s one of those venn diagram things. All villains are antagonists, but not all antagonists are villains.
The antagonistic force in any story is the thing that is stopping the main character for getting what s/he wants or needs. While it might be Count Olaf terrorizing the Beaudelaire children, the antagonistic force might just as easily be Holden Caulfield’s crippling cynicism. Or maybe it’s Norman Bates’ mother.
Start with your main character. What do they want? What can stand in their way?
- Internal personality flaws?
- Something from their past?
- A person?
- A physical object? (though usually this generates an internal or external struggle)
Make sure that everything you write about your antagonist illustrates something about its relationship to your main character. We don’t have room, in a short story, for sub-plots.
Kristen Lamb has some excellent posts on this topic, if you need a little more reading.
And when you have written your story, log in and post your success in The Victory Dance group or simply comment on this post and let the congrats come flying in.