Can the antagonist be a character from a daydream?

by Jenn

I am just beginning to consider writing a story where the protagonist has a disorder that involves excessive daydreaming. In the story,she spends much of her time hiding from reality, daydreaming of a character who is actually an idealized version of herself, existing in a dream world the she has created and obviously exists only in her head. The basic story idea (at least thus far) is about the protagonist's journey to discover who she really is; to drop all her 'masks' and become more assertive, outgoing, and driven like her daydream character. She must learn to step out of her daydream world, and interact more in the real world, even if this means letting go of her dream world and character, to whom she has become emotionally attached.

My question is, can the antagonist be the daydream character? Half of the story will revolve around the dream character's own world, and in the book, if the protagonist succeeds to become more like her daydream character, then she will no longer daydream which will in essence mean the 'death' of the dream character.

I'm thinking that if I make the dream character/world more and more enticing as the book progresses, then the dream character can be the antagonist, trying to stop the protagonist from succeeding. Am I on the right track in thinking this?

Answer: The challenge I see is that the daydream character is, as you say, another version of the main character. In this case, she would be opposing herself--being both protagonist and antagonist at the same time. But if the daydream character is the main character then how can she oppose herself?

It might be more manageable for various characters in the dream world to represent different facets or motivations within the main character's mind. For instance, one character in the dream world might represent her drive to achieve the story goal. This would be the dream world protagonist, the person she longs to become. Another dream character might represent the part of her mind that doesn't want her to quit daydreaming. This would be the antagonist. Ideally, all 8 archetypes or all 16 motivations would be represented by various characters in the dream world.

The dream world could also contain a contagonist/impact character who pressures or entices the main character to stay in the dream world, or perhaps tries to persuade her that the dream world is the real world. (This role could also be assumed by the antagonist. It's your choice how you assign these functions.)

What's also common in a story like this, where the main character lives in two worlds, is that the same motivations are represented by characters in both worlds.

For instance, in the real world, might there be some character who mirrors the antagonist function--someone who acts to suppress the main character's desire to be more assertive?

In other words, the real world may parallel the dream world, or the dream world may consist of symbolic representations that illustrate how the main character feels about her real world life.

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