I Lost my Antagonist: Is this Okay?

by Natalie
(New Zealand)

Hi there.

I am yet to get any further than writing the prologue and first chapter in my novel but I have been thinking about the plot and characters. I have two main protagonists, the setting is fantasy, and I lost my antagonist.

I started off with this one... let's just call him 'R' for now. R was a bad-guy. He tried to kill the main characters (C and A)to stop them from taking a treasure that they were competing for. However, as I have gone on with playing with the plot and adding twists, it seems that he is no longer the antagonist of my story.

He appears to be the antagonist at first, but as time goes on it is revealed he was trying to protect the treasure, to stop it from getting in the hands of people who would use it for evil. He tries to stop other people from receiving this treasure from C and A, but they too are not planning to use it for evil - but their use of it will end up being terrible for the entire world.

I plan for this to be the first novel in a three part series.

I know that antagonists can be many things, they don't have to be a person. However, I am still worried that readers may not be able to relate to the story if the antagonist is a complex situation rather than a person. Do you think readers will enjoy something of this nature? And do you have any good references of materials I could read to help me along with having a non-living antagonist or psuedo-antagonist? Thank you!

Answer: An antagonist's job is to represent the drive to oppose or avoid the story goal. An antagonist can certainly be a corporate entity, such as an evil government, corporation, brotherhood, etc. if the entity functions as one whole rather than component individuals with different drives. Often, however, it makes sense to personify the antagonist in the form of the head of such a corporate body.

However, in this case you should consider what your story goal is. If the goal is to obtain the treasure, then the antagonist's function will be to try to avoid/prevent this goal from being achieved. It doesn't matter if the antagonist is doing this for evil/selfish or good/selfless reasons.

Most villains, in fiction or real life, believe they act out of good intentions. Even Hitler thought he was right. Few villains actually believe they are villains or that they are doing evil, even if they are.

So your character who is trying to protect the treasure could still be the antagonist. On the other hand, maybe he is just a contagonist and the real antagonist is one of the evil people he is trying to protect the treasure from.

Just a thought.

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May 21, 2014
by: Natalie

Thank you very much, that was extremely helpful. :)

I think this means that once it is revealed R is not the true villain, a new 'face' for that 'evil' they are against needs to come up somewhere.

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