Does every story need antagonist?

by Ell

Question: If I have a problem to solve and the hero has already enough obstacles, do I still need a bad guy?


Answer: Not every antagonist is human. Sometimes Nature can be the antagonist. Society, a supernatural force, an animal, or a machine can be the antagonist.

Even a human antagonist doesn't have to be an evil person. He or she could oppose the protagonist with all the best intentions, or simply have a different agenda that is incompatible with the protagonist's aim. Sometimes too, different characters can take on the role of antagonist at different points in a novel.

All that matters is you have an entity that opposes or seeks to prevent the Story Goal from being achieved.

My guess is that your antagonist is somewhere in that list of obstacles you've created. But you'll know if you need an additional antagonist if the story goal will seem too easily achieved.

Without an adequate antagonist, there's often little to stop the goal being achieved in the first chapter. Or the goal may seem so easy that the hero's success is no big deal.

Readers enjoy stories about characters who must face tough problems, and antagonists are there to make the problem tough.

So, no, you don't need a comic-book style villain to be the antagonist. A guy in a black cape and long moustache hatching evil plans would be out of place in many novels.

You just need to make sure the protagonist has a big enough problem to tackle.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Plot Invite.


 Step-by-Step Novel Planning Workbook


NEW! Make Money Writing Nonfiction Articles


"I've read more than fifty books on writing, writing novels, etc., but your website has the most useful and practical guidance. Now that I understand how a novel is structured, I will rewrite mine, confident that it will be a more interesting novel." - Lloyd Edwards



"Thanks to your "Create a Plot Outline in 8 Easy Steps," I was able to take a story that I simply just fooled around with and went willy nilly all over, into a clearly defined, intriguing battle where two characters fight to keep their relationship intact, and try to find a balance in control of themselves and their lives. Thanks to you, I'm not ashamed of the poor organization of my writing." - Nommanic Ragus

"I am so glad I found your site. It has helped me in so many ways, and has given me more confidence about myself and my work. Thank you for making this valuable resource, for me and my fellow writers. Perhaps you'll hear about me someday...I'll owe it to you." - Ruth, Milton, U.S.A.

"I never knew what to do with all the characters in my head, but since discovering Dramatica I am writing again in my spare time. Thank you for making this available. Yes, it is a bit complex, and it does take time, but I love it because it works." - Colin Shoeman

"I came across your website by chance. It is a plethora of knowledge, written in a simplistic way to help aspiring writers. I truly appreciate all of the information you have provided to help me successfully (relative term) write my novel. Thank you very much!" - Leo T. Rollins

"I can honestly say that this is the first website that is really helpful. You manage to answer complex questions in relatively short articles and with really intelligent answers. Thank you for taking the time to write these articles and sharing them so generously." - Chrystelle Nash

"...had no idea that a simple click would give me such a wealth of valuable information. The site not only offered extremely clear and helpful instructions but was a very enjoyable read as well. The education from your wonderful site has made me a better writer and your words have inspired me to get back to work on my novel. I wish to give you a heartfelt thanks for How to Write a Book Now, sir." -- Mike Chiero