29 October 2009


by Ariel Ceylan

Every person who is familiar with stories whether they are movies, comics, or books know of the antagonist.  The antagonist is usually the "bad guy" in the story, and without the antagonist there is no story.

As a writer, it is important to never forget this important line about antagonists, "They are people too".  This is probably the most vital maxim that a writer must live by other than "show don't tell".

I put together a list of things to keep in mind while creating the most crucial character in your book.

1) Who is the antagonist?
Like building any other character, one must create a detailed history of the antagonist.  The financial background, family life, favorite food, etc…

2) Why is the antagonist antagonizing the protagonist?
What is the ulterior motive?  Did the "good guy" in the novel make fun of the "bad guy" in high school?  People don't just do things, there is a logic behind everything that is done, whether it is sound or not.

3) Give the antagonist a weakness.
No one wants to read a book that the antagonist completely overwhelms the protagonist, making no hope or point in the plot.

4)  Make sure that the antagonist has a soft-spot
Does the antagonist have a thing for fluffy bunnies?  Make sure to keep in mind that the antagonist is a person.

5) Is there a chance at redemption for the antagonist?
As a writer, it is imperative to be clear of the antagonist's strengths, failings, and heart.  Does the antagonist deserve redemption?  Remember that this will not be in the eyes of you as a writer, but in the eyes of the protagonist.  The protagonist has the power to offer the "bad guy" a second chance if the "good guy" is really good.  Of course, the ball will then be in the "bad guy's" court, whether he or she will accept the offer.

6) Don't be afraid to let the tables turn
Let the story run its course when writing without cramping the style of the characters.  They may shock you with what they have done in their past and will do with their new experiences.  Be open to having a role reversal or having the reader understand the antagonist.

I think the most important thing in creating an effective antagonist is remembering that they are not just objects that make life more difficult for the protagonist, the antagonist is a real person.

I wish you much luck!

Check me out on: ceylanthewriter.wordpress.com

Ariel Ceylan is a seventeen-year-old girl, a senior in high school, that has published her first book on September 24th, 2009 through Xlibris, a self-publishing company. 


  1. Sometimes writing lessons cross over into life lessons. How do you deal with the antagonists in your own life?

    I love redemption and stories about characters given a second chance leave me warm and hopeful.

  2. I think that each atagonist in our lives need to be treated differently. We need to keep in mind that they all have different experiences and viewpoints which equates to the way atagonists treat us, and us them.

    I love redemption stories too, I think that when we write, we pretty much run the story, so we need to have some sort of hope in it, because there is always something to look for in our lives. Do we have the right to deprive our characters of hope when our lives are filled with hope (whether we notice it our not)?

    Life = writing.


  3. Wonderful post, Ceylan! I especially like the part about the antagonist having a soft spot. That's what keeps the antagonist realistic.

  4. My goodness, did I ever love that post! I shall definitely be referring to it over the next couple of weeks. Wonderful breakdown of important things to remember about antagonists. Thank you so much!