Writing dillema

by Peter Hill

Question: I've begun writing officially my novel, the only problem is that I haven't decided who my main antagonist will be. I have a few candidates but no one set in stone.

Is there anything I can do to help make up my mind once and for all?

Answer: Sometimes this only becomes clear during the writing process, particularly if you are a pantser by nature. Seeing your characters in action on paper and getting to know them better may help the real antagonist emerge.

Some other approaches...

Since the antagonist's function is to avoid or prevent the hero from winning, you might ask yourself who would be most upset/frustrated/disappointed if the story goal were to be achieved. Who has the most to lose if the hero wins?

The other function of an antagonist is to try to get the protagonist (or any other character) to reconsider his pursuit of the goal. Who is most likely to yell, "Stop right there!" when the hero is about to reach the goal?

Bear in mind that while the function of the antagonist can be handed off to various characters in a more complex work, it is redundant to have more than one antagonist in a scene. So you might also ask: if the hero ran into all your antagonist-candidates in a room together, who among them would take the lead role?

Finally, if you have several antagonist-candidates appearing at different times in the story, ask yourself who will assume this mantle at the climax. He/she is probably the real antagonist.

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