Thursday, February 19, 2015

I ♥ antagonists

This is a reprint of a blog post that originally appeared at Fresh Fiction. I think it bears a repeat. I'd love to hear your thoughts.

In every story, writers hope readers will root for the hero and the heroine. They’re the main characters, the center of the story. But without other characters, readers can’t fully understand the motivations of the hero/heroine.

That’s one of the reasons I love antagonists. Not necessarily a villain, but someone who doesn’t blindly follow the others. Someone who questions why the h/h do what they do, or who may oppose them.

To me, the antagonist is every bit as important as the hero or heroine. Without antagonists and the conflicts they present, the main characters might not show readers what they’re really made of.

In Twice In A Blue Moon, Hayden can be a real jerk. He’s sarcastic, snippy and downright rude sometimes. Just as I imagine a reality TV set to be like, with at the participants adding extra conflict by acting out personal drama. Audiences love the conflict they provide, and love to hate the jerks, which is one of the reasons viewers keep tuning in week after week. So I imagine producers would love Hayden too.

Let’s take a closer look at Hayden. He’s a video guy for the reality show No Boundaries, so it’s his job to see everything that goes on around him. His camera adds a bit of distance to what he sees, so it gives him a better perspective. He knows Melanie’s falling for Buck even before she does.

I threw in a few hints about another reason Hayden’s more attuned to Melanie than most. He’s got a crush on her. Not head-over-heels in love, but he’s definitely In Lust with her. His actions speak pretty loudly about this. It’s his one saving grace.

Readers aren’t supposed to necessarily like Hayden. But without him, Melanie might have avoided the truth even though it was right in front of her. Hayden helped force her to realize she had to make a decision, one that would impact her future.

Antagonists help reveal the real character of the hero/heroine by challenging them on a deep level. They hold up a mirror of the soul to the main character, and though the main character might deny what s/he actually sees in that mirror, eventually s/he has to deal with the truth.

Without the antagonist, the story lacks an added believability and depth. I believe in HEA, but without an antagonist, that ending would be far too easy to get to, and a less interesting read.

How do you feel about antagonists in stories? Do you have any favorites? Bad guys/girls you loved to hate?

TWICE IN A BLUE MOON by Cate Masters

Publish Date: 1/19/2015

About 48,000 words

Can true love strike twice?

After the death of her first love, Melanie Michaels buries her grief in the risky demands of a reality show, where her extreme stunts leave her teetering on the edge of danger. That’s exactly where she wants to be—until she arranges for her crew to traverse the Swedish Lapland in the dead of winter. It’s the one place she shouldn’t go, on the one day she should avoid—her would-be wedding anniversary.

Instead of romantic nights spent in the Ice Hotel or under the Northern Lights, Melanie is stuck with Joe “Buck” Wright, a snarky loner tour guide who loves his sled dogs and nothing and no one else. But Buck is also trying to numb a painful past. Can two people skilled at pushing others away find warmth at the edge of the Arctic?


dolorah said...

I love well written antagonists. As you say, they push the story along, make it possible the the h/h to obtain growth, or an epiphany. The drama gets intense. Can't think on the spot like this for a book I've read lately with a good antagonist. Hayden sounds awesome.

LD Masterson said...

Since I write crime drama, my main antagonist is usually my bad guy (murderer, kidnapper, etc.) but I always need a couple lesser antagonists who push at my protags so they have to push back. As Hayden did for Melanie. It's the pushing back and forth that keeps the story moving.