Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Justified Antagonism?

Jumping back into my writing routine, although I have one more deadline at the day job to meet. I've made it to the end of Cinda's story (YAY!) although the last chapter is outlined, not written (does that sound like it should be coming from James Bond?). Anyway, as I'm revisiting the story line after mostly completing that first draft, I'm looking at where I have to fill in the blanks. Today's blog post is about characterization and humanizing your antagonist.

Bad guys are bad. But why are they bad? And what makes them so bad? Sometimes they are people who've lost their way after a run of bad luck. Sometimes a physical or mental disability pushes them the wrong direction. It's okay to hate the bad guy, but sometimes it helps to understand what makes him or her that way. Are they a driven personality? Downtrodden?

In Cinda's story, the antagonist wasn't always a bad person, although they displayed those tendencies. As I go back over my first draft to clean up the messy bits and make sure I've left the appropriate bread crumbs, I've had to pay more attention to said antagonist to show all sides of the personality. Does the antagonist have reason to be the "bad guy?" Is it a personality defect or are they pushed to the edge of sanity to get there?

Making all the characters in a novel "people" (rather than caricatures) adds dimension to writing. My antagonist is the one character I have to "fluff up" more as I go back for a second draft. But that's the way I write. I get the story down first, then I go back through to fill in the blanks, those parts that I see perfectly in my head that didn't make it to the page. While some authors have to go back through and cut out all the extra, I work opposite. There is definitely extra, overused words, filler words, etc., but I tend to be very spare on details the first time through.

So, without further ado, time to add those details.


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