You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s the protagonist in his version of the world. -John Rogers
Isn’t that the truth? It seems like there’s a been a movement over the past couple of years to develop stories through antagonistic characters; make villains as twisted as your heroes are straight and all that. It’s a solid approach because as much as readers are okay with rooting for the good guy, they don’t necessarily want to hate the bad guy. Actually, the less they hate the bad guy, the better the story – this is actually why love triangles are so difficult to write. I think at the start of writing something new, we writers want to see the world in black and white, and we want characters to scream, “I’m the Hero!” and “I’m the Villain!” And it’s okay for them to do that, in the first draft. But the truth is, the more you blur the line between the two, the better the story.
And so, to help you blur that line a little, here are seven things your antagonists should never ever, ever, ever do, all the way from overworked cliches to decisions that just don’t work. Well crafted antagonists should never…
Give grand speeches or reveal their whole evil plan
Yes, this is a huge cliche, and for a good reason. We always want to show instead of simply tell, and grand speeches are just telling. Besides, if you need your villain to hand everything to the hero right at the story’s climax, then your hero probably needs some revision. Give the villain page time, especially if his plight is complicated/multi-step. Let him show your readers what he thinks and what he’s doing.
Walk away from physically seeing their plans through
…Especially if they were elaborate. You know how all of the old children’s cartoons are like that? The whole episode leads up to the hero getting pinched, the grand monologue of the villain happens and then he just walks away, usually leaving the final task to henchmen. Who wouldn’t want to see their deeply important plans to their actual finish?
Employ dumb evil henchmen
Speaking of not seeing a plan through, good help is so hard to find. Continue reading
She has a bookshelf for a heart,
And ink runs through her veins,
She’ll write you into her story,
With the typewriter in her brain,
Her bookshelf’s getting crowded,
With all the stories that she’s penned,
Of the people who flicked through her pages,
But closed the book before the end,
And there’s one pushed to the very back,
That’s sits collecting dust,
With its title in her finest writing, Continue reading
I’ve had an application in with this international import/export company via a temp agency for a couple of weeks now. Then Thursday last week, I get a call around 11am that they want to do an interview that day. So I left my gardening where it was, came inside, got cleaned up and tolerated the agency’s back and forth while they struggled through coordinating and getting their shit together. (My main contact there has yet to send me a grammatically correct email, to give you an idea of the low level of continual frustration the whole experience has been thus far.)
Unsurprisingly, this agency has a pre-interview phone prep, where they give you a heads up on some of the things to expect and be aware of. Okay, so I tolerated this woman telling me in detail how I should dress and behave; somewhat rude, but not altogether unexpected. And then she got to the things I needed to bring.
“I’m going to send you our version of your resume. You must print out four copies and bring this version with you. Understood?”
Um… you did what? She sent over their version of my resume and after taking a moment to look it over, I was kind of pissed and I told her so. Why did they feel a need to alter my resume and submit it to their client as a representation of me, of my history and capabilities? They’d removed my formatting, half the information and the couple of social media logos at the bottom. The job history and education was still there, but it was boring and flat. I wanted to tell her, “Do you have any idea how much time I’ve spent on making this single piece of paper memorable? How dare you change it!”
I’ve worked with a couple of temp agencies in the past, though neither of them (at least not to my knowledge) altered my resume. They certainly didn’t give me their new and improved version and command that that be the one I use. My surprise and displeasure caused a big stink, and later hubby said, “I’m surprised you’ve never encountered that before. A couple of my past agencies did that.”
It’s taken me most of the weekend to diffuse the irritation, and I finally realized why. Most people who go into the job market really don’t care about the in between process; they just want the job. They want the end result, and everything, especially a resume, is a means to an end. But I’m a writer. That resume might not be in the genres I typically work with, but it’s still in my medium. That resume was one of my works of art. And they messed with it. And I took it personally.
Have you ever had someone alter your work, written or otherwise? What did you do?
Ages ago, I loved writing microfiction and its much shorter cousins, 100 word stories and 2 sentence stories. This kind of precision writing is easily swept away amid the novels and novellas we always have in the world, but I’ve just re-discovered the love. :-D What micro-story can you come up with?
“I need to speak to a human,” he demanded.
“I need to talk to a human,” he demanded, shoving rudely past the androids moving sedately about their pre-programed business. He rounded the corner, pressing his back to the old red brick building, a relic from a bygone era, and tried to control his breathing. He pressed a hand to his ribs.
“May I have your authorization code?” the perfect female voice asked. He gave it to her, blinking the rain from his eyes, and waited, breathing in the city’s stench.
Then, “Why the fuck are you breaking protocol?”
He looked at his hand. It was red. “They’ve got it.”
This interesting list came across my Facebook feed yesterday and I’ve got to say I’m immensely pleased to discover I’m not the only one who has experienced some of these things. Really though, this is an interesting exercise in language and a good reminder that you should always leave room for growth in your own languages. Of course, a good chunk of these aren’t really nouns, but that’s beside the point.
It’s a testament to the ever-expanding experience of life that we’re encountering new things we need new words for. What’s the word for that? :-P
Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been working primarily on two WIPs, one of which is my never complete novel following a high queen through murder, plotting, war, love and lust. And it’s been an interesting journey, trying to decide how my main girl Xoe is going to think and behave. She’d bounced between being a rebellious non-queen to an ice queen all the way to a bastard who somehow ends up on the throne. But in all that uncertainty, I’ve gathered a few tips and tricks for establishing your royal characters. Take a look:
- Establish how the line of succession works – history has proven how delicate a position a royal family, and a nation by extension, can be in without heirs. Even if your king and queen are hated by their people and peers alike, everyone wants to know who’s next in line for the throne.
- Establish a royal family history – meaning, at least have an idea of what’s been going on in the palace for the past 50 years or so, even if it only comes through in backstory. The same way Martin wrote about the Mad King in A Song of Fire and Ice gave the perfect sense of tension and a badass reputation to Jaime, so too is your royal family’s history important.
This was a rather interesting read. I wasn’t aware of the “problem of Susan” concept, but now I’ll be on the lookout for it while reading, especially writing articles. I’m glad to see though that I’m not the only one who was bothered by C.S. Lewis’ handling of one of his female protagonists.
As a teen I read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Prince Caspian for school after having seen the first movie adaptation. And to be honest, this is one of the few series where I enjoy the movies more than the books. Besides that the written originals were somewhat dull, they did have several anti-female lines that, quite frankly, ruined the magic. Which shouldn’t surprise anyone who understands that the books are heavy in their Christian allegory.
This apparent tension between the story Lewis told (or didn’t really tell, in this case) and what his readers wanted from the story highlights an age old question every writer must think on at some point: to give the audience what they want, or tell the story he feels needs to be told?
Originally posted on Fabulous Realms:
Anyone who has read and loved C S Lewis’ Narnia books may have encountered what is usually referred to in literary circles today as ‘the problem of Susan’. Susan was the only one of the four Pevensie siblings who survived the train wreck (because she was not on the train or at the station) on Earth which sent the others to Narnia after The Last Battle. In that final book of the series, Susan is conspicuous by her absence. Why? Because, as Peter says, she is “no longer a friend of Narnia” and she is described, perhaps rather uncharitably, by Jill Pole as “interested in nothing now-a-days except nylons and lipstick and invitations”. Several people who are otherwise fans of the Narnia books have a big problem with Susan’s fate. Notably, Harry Potter author J K Rowling once commented: “There comes a point where Susan, who was the older girl, is lost to Narnia because she becomes…
View original 999 more words