The Antagonist is the most important character in the story. That character is responsible to carry fifty percent of the debate about the value of your story’s message. Unfortunately, new writers spend the least amount of time developing the background and motivations of this character. Often times the antagonist is not developed beyond the story’s immediate scene-to-scene need. This means that the audience gets paint-by-the-numbers “villian” that no one actually cares about. Those characters are typically not seen as a challenge for the Protagonist to overcome, thereby weakening the overall impact of your story’s message.
The goal of any story is to have relatable characters, not just the Protagonist. To this end, here are five questions that will help improve your Antagonist:
What words do your Antagonist want written on his or her tombstone?
Popular stories about people involve their pursuit of a goal. Everyone wants to be remembered in a positive light by the communities they love. The Antagonist is no different in his or her ambition. If that character died today, would his or her life reflect the words they wanted on their tombstone?
What are your Antagonist’s deepest, most important values?
Everyone has standards. They are reared with them and then develop new standards as they gain life experience. If your Antagonist is threatening people during the course of the story, you should have a clear understanding of what he or she is not willing to do in pursuit of the goal. This “limitation” should be connected to who the character believes they are.
What do people typically ask your Antagonist for help with?
The Antagonist should have at least two or three communities of people that he or she is involved with. This could be family members or someone at the coach for the Little League team. The Antagonist is a valued member of someone’s community. It is important to figure out what role he plays within it.
What are your Antagonist’s best qualities?
People are encouraged in their talent from childhood. There should be specific soft and hard skills that your Antagonist should have developed professionally from the time he or she was a preteen. Whether these qualities are physical, mental, or social, they will dictate specifically how the Antagonist interacts with others to execute the plan.
What does your Antagonist regret not doing in life?
This is an important question because the answer can be the driving force behind the acquisition of his or her goal in the story. Regret is a powerful emotion that leads people to engage in dramatic behavior. It could also be the key to inticing the audience to identify with the Antagonist. Great stories evoke discussions within the group conscience.