The Evilness of Opposition

by Britney

Hey there!

I've been working hard over the past weeks to build the foundation on which my plot will be built. I have solid ideas, but several holes I'm filling in. The biggest eye-sore of everything I have so far is the lack of an evil/antagonist/opposition/etc.

Basically, I'm a happy go-lucky person trying to concoct the all-so-necessary "evil" to my story... and I can't for the life of me figure it out.

Any tips? How do I - someone who lives with so much happiness, goodness, and positivity - find a route into the darker side of life to create a believable evil?

Any advice or thought would be much appreciated.

Response: First, remember that evil villains seldom think they are evil, except perhaps in two-dimensional stories. Villains always think they are doing the right thing.

Hitler, the KKK, and Osama bin Laden all believe/believed they were fighting for a noble purpose. Similarly, any free market capitalist will tell you how right they are to pursue greed and self-interest above all, even though for thousands of years that has been the very definition of evil.

My point is not to take sides politically, but just to point out that it is human nature to want to see oneself as good, to rationalize one's actions as good. No one says, "I am evil. Yeah me!"

The thing to do is look at your Story Goal, the main objective your protagonist is trying to achieve, the big problem he is
trying to solve that will impact your story world. Then ask yourself who might be against this goal. Look for someone who sees the solution as something to be avoided.

Give your antagonist a strong reason to be against the goal. Maybe it goes against his self-interest. (This works well if you want the reader to see your antagonist as evil.) However, your villain may not be evil and selfish at heart. He may just be wrong in his assessment of the situation. He may be trying to do what he really thinks is in everyone's best interest, even though it isn't. Or the Goal might simply be threatening his values or beliefs and he doesn't want to give them up for emotional reasons.

Sometimes people have experiences that teach them to see the world a certain way. But what works in one situation may not work in others. Nonetheless, people cling to what has worked before.

In some situations, a person who is rigid or authoritarian could stand in the way of the right solution. In other situations, someone who is happy-go-lucky could be on the wrong side. Every approach is right sometimes and wrong other times. As the writer, you determine the right solution for your story. Your villain has the opposite opinion.

To put it another way, it's differences of opinion that make for conflict. You have to put yourself in the shoes of all your characters, even those you would never agree with in real life.

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 Questions About Novel Writing.

search this site the web
search engine by freefind

Celebrating our 2nd year as one of the...

 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