antagonist in first chapter

by james shimwitwa
(mansa, zambia)

Question: Is it all right to mention the antagonist in first chapter? Most advice I come across says focus on main character and what their conflict is. In my short story I am thinking of mentioning antagonist whose role seem insignificant but later plays an antagonist role to the story goal.


Answer: There is no rule about this, and in a short story you may not have enough space to delay the introduction of characters for any substantial period.

It is quite correct that readers want to connect with the main character quickly, which is one reason prologues are less popular now (they tend to introduce the antagonist well before the main character enters the story). But there is no reason why you can't have the antagonist appear in the opening pages.

In fact, it is a perfectly sound technique to have a minor character appear early on who later turns out to be the antagonist as a surprise.

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