“Listen up, boys,” the head sheep said. “We have one chance to get this right. The sow keeps all her money at the Piggy Bank on the corner. We show a little backbone and knock it over and we’ll never have to cower again. You with me?”
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6 Ways to Write Better Bad Guys
by Laura Disilverio
Luckily, transforming your antagonist from a one-dimensional paper doll into a force to be reckoned with—and remembered—is completely possible if you implement a few simple but powerful methods for creating antagonists and expanding their roles. You can build a worthy adversary during the outlining process or beef one up when you revise your already completed draft. It’s never too late.The antagonist is, quite simply, the person who acts to keep your protagonist from achieving his goals. Note the key words person and acts. I’m using person here as a catchall for a sentient being or creation of any kind that is capable of emotion and has the intellectual ability to plot against your protagonist. Thus, a personified car (as in Stephen King’s Christine) could be an effective antagonist, but an abstraction such as “society” or “Big Pharma” cannot. (More on this later.)
The antagonist must act to prevent your heroine from achieving her goals, whether that action is whispering reminders that she’s totally useless, plunging a knife into her back or anything in between. The type of action your antagonist takes will depend on his nature and the kind of story you’re writing. But your story must have an antagonist. (In some stories—Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes to mind—the protagonist is actually his own antagonist.) Without an active antagonist, your hero could take a leisurely Sunday stroll toward his goal. Lacking the obstacles a worthy antagonist would provide, he would also lack the opportunity for growth or the necessity to change, and his character arc would flatline (as would your sales).
With the following tips in mind, reread your manuscript with an eye toward making your antagonist as compelling as your protagonist. Some effort on your part could even put your villain in the heady company of Professor Moriarty, the White Witch, Simon Legree and Nurse Ratched.
1. Remember that Antagonists are people, too.
I stop reading novels in which the antagonist is obviously nothing more than a device to move the plot in a certain direction. If I can’t empathize with the antagonist, believe in her motives or understand why she’s dishing out evil, I put the book aside. Flesh out your antagonist. Give us an origin story (how she became the way she is) or show that she regrets something and might change if given a chance.
If working with a nonhuman antagonist, personify him at least a little bit. Think of Frankenstein’s loneliness, HAL’s (the computer in 2001: A Space Odyssey) jealousy or Shere Khan’s hatred of the “man cub” (The Jungle Book). Show the antagonist doing something nice. Even villains love their mothers or cockapoos, volunteer at soup kitchens or help snow-stuck motorists push their cars out of intersections. Do this early on. Give him believable, even laudable, motives.
Inspector Javert from Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables is a strong antagonist because his obsession with finding Valjean stems from his belief that stealing is wrong. How many readers would disagree with that? Javert’s insistence that theft is always, without exception, wrong, however, turns his crusade into persecution. His inability to believe that good and evil can coexist in a single man leads him to suicide. His death is one of the story’s tragedies because he has been so thoroughly developed as a character and because we have, from the beginning, understood his motives and his flaws.
Other was include:
2. Eschew the totally evil antagonist (except, possibly, in some horror or monster stories).
3. If you’re tempted to say your antagonist is a corporation, disease or war—don’t.
4. Make your antagonist at least as smart, strong and capable as the protagonist.
5. Keep the tension strong when the antagonist is a friend, ally or loved one.
6. If your antagonist remains hidden for much of the story (as in a mystery), give him proxies or let him work behind the scenes.
For more on these other steps, go to http://www.writersdigest.com/online-editor/6-ways-to-write-better-bad-guys?et_mid=636328&rid=239626420
He didn’t understand why people were avoiding him. Granted, he had gotten up late, so he had to skip a few of the normal morning rituals, but he had showered the night before and brushed his teeth before he went to bed. And thus far this morning, he’d only had half a cup of tea. So, what was the big deal? His hair may have been a bit of a tangle, but his clothes were fresh.
He couldn’t understand it.
Then he understood it even less: women he didn’t know and had never met began giving him that slightly coy, come hither look. The one that starts with her glancing away when their eyes first meet, then with her head slightly cocked and her eyes slightly closed, she turns her gaze back to him and smiles that promisingly wicked half smile. One woman even circled her tongue over her lips.
They weren’t the type of women who were usually attracted to him, so why now?
He went to rest room in his office to comb his hair. Maybe they were making fun of him. That’s when he looked in the mirror.
He was frightened.
No, he was scared!
How could this be? Whom had he offended? What deity or person with near-divine powers had done this to him?
He tried to make a mental list of who could have done this to him. It was as much a list of distraction as a true list of candidates. There was Elinor over in accounting, whom he had snubbed at a company gathering. Not on purpose, but just the same. Then there was Bob, his neighbor, whose cat was always digging in his flowers. Not that he liked flowers all that much, but he liked the cat even less. And…He finally decided to take a photo of himself. It might help him in finding out what condition, disease, curse he had. So, he did that, and then he decided to go with it. He wasn’t sure why he decided to go with his new-found condition. Maybe it was because it was near Halloween. Maybe it was because, for the first time in ages, women were actually noticing him — and men were frightened. Or maybe it was because it was simply easier this way, and sometimes easier was the way to go.
He only hoped he didn’t wake up with a turkey face as the days left Halloween and drew closer to Thanksgiving.
Under the guise of holiday détente, a contingency of nutcracker vampires met with their counterparts from Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter and the other holidays.
Citing how pumpkins and candy are traditionally part of Halloween, the leader of the group said, “If Thanksgiving can have pumpkin pies, and Christmas can have candy canes, I do not see why we can’t have Halloween nutcrackers.”
When advised that they could still not get their way, the Halloween nutcrackers stormed out of the discussions and threatened to “shut down the Holidays until we get our way.”
With Halloween soon approaching, no one is sure if Halloween we care forth on its threat to shut down the Holidays. Stay tuned for late breaking developments.
Mr. Ed had gone out drinking with his friends last night, but work up this morning with a terrible hangover and a skeleton painted on his body. He did not find it funny. It was probably the jack ass next door who did it. Crept over in the middle of the night and painted on him while he was passed out. He’d get even with him. Hey, nobody trifled with him and got away with it. He was nobody’s mule.
Bobo thought he had seen it all. Then he saw this: a big bright pink elephant. He had to have it. It would perfect for his yard. His wife couldn’t object. It was the 1,000 pound gorilla he wanted to keep in the guest bedroom. It was an elephant. It would stay outside. And it would be the perfect complement to her pink flamingos — all 200 hundred of them strewn all over their lawn.