While going through my email this morning, I came across this post from the delightful Ainsley Brooks, author of The Star Prophecy: Book One of The Daughters of Prophecy.
“I’ve been stuck on my WIP. I just got myself unstuck, and it occurs to me that I always get stuck for the same reason. My villain isn’t doing enough. So that’s my tip for the day. If your story isn’t moving forward, maybe your antagonist isn’t active enough.”
Since my story has currently slowed to a crawl in Act II, this really made me stop and think. Although we talked about antagonists during the McDaniel program and in posts here, here and here at Eight Ladies, I hadn’t realized that my own antagonist isn’t doing enough. He’s causing trouble and making things difficult for my hero, but not too much trouble and not too difficult. Things are uncomfortable for my hero, but not too uncomfortable.
He’s barely breaking a sweat. That can’t be good.
My antagonist is right there at the beginning of the story, getting things moving, but then turns into a “hands-off” kind of guy, fading into the background and letting others do the dirty work for him. Now part of that makes sense. His identity is unknown until close to the end of the story, so he can’t be too obvious, but he needs to be doing more and be more of a presence. I need to turn him from a two-dimensional archetype into a well-rounded antagonist so my hero has something to push back against.
I’ll be spending my writing sessions this week making sure my antagonist is in action. Thanks for the tip Ainsley.
So what are some examples (book, movie, anything) of active antagonists I can look to for inspiration?