So after staring into space (along with the fifty other things that had to be done this week) and then losing my computer (I had to run after the dogs and I forgot where I dropped it, so I kept searching the living room which wasn’t a help since it was in the guest room), and getting stung on the bottom of my foot by a wasp (don’t ask), I ended up with an ice pack back in bed, thinking about the antagonist.
At that point, I came to two realizations:
1. Nita and Nick have different antagonists (Nita owns the main plot and Nick gets the subplot).
2. I needed a Conflict Box to figure them out.
The lovely thing about the conflict box is that it’s simple. If my conflict doesn’t fit in that box, I haven’t thought it through, so to make a box, I have to think of my conflict in the starkest terms: What do they want, and how are they crossing each other?
So here’s what I’ve got (details redacted for spoilers):
Nita’s turned out to be pretty simple: Somebody’s killing demons and she’s going to stop them, and that makes the demon killer include her as a target to stop her from interfering. Nita can’t stop going after the killer, it’s her job and her job is her life, and the killer can’t stop killing and trying to kill Nita. Nice simple conflict lock.
Nick’s is trickier. It obviously has to be somebody who wants to be the next Devil, or somebody who wants Nick impeached or deposed so he or she could be the next Devil now. The problem was, the struggle’s taking place on the island which seemed odd. Why not fight him in Hell?
But then I realized that was a smart move. Take him out of the place where he’s the most powerful and then subvert and destroy him while he’s out of his element. So then B’s only problem is how to get him to the island, and that’s where the hellgate comes in: B reports an illegal hellgate and then takes out the first two demons that Nick sends to deal with it, knowing that as a responsible administrator, he’ll come himself the third time.
That gives me two different struggles which is not good because I want a unified book. But if Nick’s antagonist B joins forces with A, that solves that. Then the problem is, Why? Why would an insurgent candidate for Devil join forces with a demon assassin? (I know: They fight crime!) They’d have to have a mutual agreement. I can see why antagonist A would do it: if B would promise to remove the demons from the island once in power, that would be a good partnership. But what good is A to B? That is, how does a demon assassin help a Devil usurper? Gotta be the assassination, right?
That’s a little weak, so I’m cogitating.
But really, conflict boxes. HUGE HELP. (Want one? It’s yours. Drag and drop the image below.)