Questionable: Plotting Multiple Antagonists

Brooke asked:
“Are there four separate but not equal antagonists, or one antagonist and three minions [in The Devil in Nita Dodd]?”

There’s always only one main antagonist in a classic linear story because you can only have one climax with the obligatory scene of the protagonist and the antagonist facing each other in final battle.  

But you can have subplots that the protagonist and (in this case) her team* have to clear out of the way to get to the Big Bad.  In the best of all possible worlds, you have one main antagonist and a couple of subplots that aren’t life or death, say family or work.  In this case, which I do not recommend, I ended up with five different factions fighting for different things:

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Nita Dodd: Mammon and Max (and Button)

Mammon and Max are fun characters for me because they’re amoral (not because they’re demons, but because they’re just made that way) and not particularly venal.  Mammon hangs out with those who should be stepped on like bugs, but he really only needs slapped down every now and then, or at least have somebody pull him to one side and say, “If you do that, that would be stupid,” to be a fun if occasionally treacherous person to know.

 Enter Max. Continue reading

What Have We Learned From This Binge Watch 3: The Antagonist Is Crucial in Building a Team Story

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My biggest problem in writing Nita at this point is not having a clear antagonist. I already knew that my plot was a mess because of that–your antagonist shapes your plot–but until I started considering her team, I didn’t realize that the team’s make-up was also shaped by the Big Bad. Once I thought about it, it was obvious: the make-up and character of the team is defined by the project it undertakes, and the project it undertakes is shaped by antagonist.

Which means I need to learn a lot more about team antagonists. And then find Nita’s. Continue reading

Person of Interest: Flesh and Blood: The Well-Rounded Antagonist

Person of Interest Binge LogoPerson of Interest has great antagonists, mostly because the writers refuse to see them as just Bad Guys. Every major antagonist they’ve had is layered, well-motivated, and intelligent, with the possible exception of the thugs from HR, and even they were led by the smart, smooth Quinn. Elias may be my favorite of all of the Major Big Bads because he’s so complex. And that, in turn, makes the stories about him as complex and layered as he is. The protagonist may drive the narrative, but the antagonist shapes it, and Elias always shapes an interesting story. Continue reading

Person of Interest: Witness: Reversals

Person of Interest Binge LogoA reversal is just that: a reversal of an expectation the reader/viewer holds about what’s happening next in a story. Reversals often happen at turning points in a story, events that show the protagonist that her or his assumption about what’s happening is wrong or at least too narrow, and that revelation turns the story in a new direction, sometimes casting everything that came before in a new light and sometimes blowing up everything completely. Continue reading