The Exciting Antagonist
It constantly amazes me how I keep discovering the same things about writing over and over and over again, especially since it’s the stuff I teach. Knowing something intellectually and using it viscerally when you write are two very different things, but you’d think I’d learn. This time it’s the exciting antagonist. I’ve said over and over again that the antagonist has to be as interesting as the protagonist, more interesting, in fact, since he or she shapes the story. Then working on You Again, I wrote a one-note antagonist who was pretty much a stereotype and wondered why I couldn’t get the story off the ground. There were so many improvements I was making in the rewrite, but none of them made the story zing the way I wanted it to.
Later, I watched one of my favorite You Tube clips (two things I’m a rabid fan of, Doctor Who and John Simm), and I thought, Boy, he’s fun to watch. What a great antagonist to write, that over-the-top, tear-big-pieces-out-of-life-and-consume-them-while-singing-the-Scissor-Sisters kind of guy. Well, here’s the video, see for yourself.
And then I thought, Wait. I could write that kind of antagonist. I could write the hell out of that kind of antagonist. I SHOULD WRITE THAT KIND OF ANTAGONIST!
Yeah, sometimes it takes me twenty or thirty runs at an idea before it sticks. Argh. And now I have “I Can’t Decide” as an earwig which is okay because it’s going to be my antagonist’s theme. You Tube, John Simm, Doctor Who, the Scissors Sisters . . . salvation comes in many forms, so thank you all very much.
While we’re on the subject, who’s your favorite antagonist? Clearly I have Master-lust, but there are so many more . . .