Most of the time we writers worry about creating strong protagonists who readers will remember long after they have put the book down. Sometimes we tend to forget that to create a strong and powerful antagonist is equally vital.
The Antagonist single handedly drives the conflict. Creates tension. Is responsible for creating obstacles in our character’s life, for dumping problems and anxieties into their lives.
The protagonist and antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Without them our manuscript is incomplete. Having a strong antagonist is as important as having a strong protagonist. While working on my last WIP, I realized that I had paid a lot of attention to my protagonist, but, my antagonist came across as a cardboard cutout. No wonder the conflict in my story had become watery.
During the several rewrites I paid attention to the antagonist. I made him smarter and resourceful. I gave him a few scenes with the protagonist. Played them against each other a couple of times. As the antagonist was the head-master of the school where the protagonist studied, it was easy to have the face-off scenes. I wrote a few scenes where the both the protagonist and the antagonist had a few scenes where they kept the readers in suspense. Secrets propel a story and I used the power of secrets in my storytelling. I tried my best to keep the readers guessing till the last minute/word as to whether the protagonist or the antagonist would win the face-off.
For an antagonist to stand tall against the protagonist we must give them a number of strengths that they can use as an advantage over the protagonist. Similarly, when we give the antagonist weaknesses, it’s these traits that the protagonist can use to their advantage.
I loved Harry Potter as much as I disliked Voldemort. Both were equally powerful forces and their clashes were page turners. They were two formidable forces with an equal number of strengths and weaknesses. I wanted Potter to kill Voldemort come what may.
Is the antagonist on top of your character development? Do you believe that powerful antagonists drive the conflict better? What are the things you all are doing to create powerful antagonists? Who is your all time favourite antagonist in a book/movie? We all would love to know.