I’m working on the rest of the book now, back in Discovery Draft, but I’m far enough along that I need  to know What Would The Antagonist Do?

I have my antagonists.  There are four separate groups working on the island, all chasing four wildly different goals with wildly different motivations and led by wildly different people.  Unfortunately, I can only have one Antagonist, Nita’s opposite number, the person who’s the greatest danger, the one who’s manipulating the other sub-antagonists, the person Nita will face in the obligatory scene.  And praise the Girls, I figured that out.  Now all I have to do is develop character and plot a bunch of turning points.  

First I have to make sure they’re all serious antagonists and that at least the last one is smarter than Nita, stronger than Nita, and more ruthless than Nita.  I can make one or two of them minimally hapless since I have so many, but they’ll be the first ones defeated (one has already gone up in flames at the first turning point).  The real Big Bad is the one I have to take most seriously, know as well as I know Nita and Nick, and find a way to like and root for.  He or she can’t just be the Big Bad, the antagonist has to be a fully developed character.  I’m not sure I’ll ever like this character, but this one is fun to write, so that may be good enough.

Then I have to plot the turning points for each of the antagonists.  That is, I have to know the events that occur in each antagonist’s plot that turn that character’s story in a new direction,  events that are concurrent or at least closely aligned with Nita and Nick’s turning points.  Why?  Because this book is crazy with plot and the only thing that will keep it from getting away from me is to tie it down at those plot points.  Once I have those four scenes for each antagonist, I’ll have an event to write to as I noodle around, something to aim at.    And since there are four turning points and four antagonists, it makes sense to knock an antagonist off at each turning point, clearing the field so that the last turning point, the climax, is only with the real antagonist, Nita’s opposite number.  

Which is why I’m currently surrounded by sheets of graph paper with squares and arrows and colored inks and a blank calendar, trying to figure this out.  Once I get past the messy part, I’ll map it in Curio.  And in the meantime, I’ll keep writing.  All of which is to say, there may not be a lot of posts this week, although the Good Book post and the Cherry Saturday post are already set to go.   As always, feel free to talk amongst yourselves in the comments.   That’s where the good stuff always is anyway.

16 thoughts on “WWtAD?

  1. Hi Jenny,
    I am so happy that you are getting your ducks in a row. Will we get any more drafts?? Wishing you well.

    1. I’ll probably put up the next scene sequence because it’s all over the place (and we’re back in discovery draft) but once I get through that section of everybody finding out, then it’s just fighting the Big Bad as a team, and I think that’ll be pretty straightforward.

  2. FOUR?! Challenge level: Master.

    Happy to hear you’re writing, as after I read all the posted chapters (which, btw, the breaks between chapters felt super natural), I had this nagging feeling all day that I had prematurely ended a conversation and I really wanted to get back to it. I kept reviewing all of my client files and wondering who I had last talked to when finally the light bulb went off and I thought, oh, wait, it’s Nita and I can’t get back to it WAHHH. That’s, like, a super high compliment.

    1. It really goes back to something I’ve always thought about with my protagonists. I don’t know about you, but my troubles never arrange themselves single file, they come in battalions and I have to prioritize and sort things out. It’s one of the reasons my protagonists are usually handling family problems and work problems along with whatever the Big Bad is dishing out plus the romance. Women: We multi-task our problems.

      And I’ve definitely been affected by current events. I keep getting these surveys from my party with a list of problems asking me which is most important to me. Well, there’s religious persecution and the rise of intolerance, income disparity, police violence, Black Lives Matter, gun control, the environment, health care, the way my President is using his office to generate profit, bombing Syria and Afghanistan, the destabilization of Europe, North Korea, collusion with Russia . . . ALL OF THE ABOVE, DAMN IT, GET ME A COMPETENT PRESIDENT.

      So it just seemed right that in this case there be all these groups on the island fighting for different things with the Mayor as an authority keeping the lid on everything by wheeling and dealing, and then something happens and kablooey. Kablooey is the end of Act Two.

      1. I just got one of those surveys. How the heck am I supposed to pick THE priority to fight? Fight them all, dammit.

        Also, yes to everything happening all at once.

      2. I totally agree about battalions in real life. How nice it would be to deal with just one problem at a time! But a book is your world–you have control! You could just make things linear. And yet you choose not to, cause Author Level: Master. As a reader, I appreciate and marvel.

  3. (-: I suppose it would spoil the fun if we took bets on who the Big Bad is going to be!

    I have a lot of questions about antagonists, plot points, when the Real Antagonist makes a first appearance vs. when the Real Antagonist makes his/her influence felt (whether the reader recognizes it consciously or not). But I can’t quite articulate it. I’ll keep working on the question, and maybe by the time you’ve worked through your stuff and are ready for questions again, I can ask it clearly.

    1. I think the antagonist should be evident on the first page because the conflict should be evident on the first page.
      In this case, there are two dead bodies, killed by two different people, but when you trace back the chain of events, they lead back to one character. So while that character isn’t present in the scene and wasn’t directly responsible for the deaths, by the time Nita and Nick follow the different trails back, it’ll be clear that those two people would be alive if weren’t for the actions of the Antagonist.

      Or put another way, you don’t need to know the name of the Antagonist to know that he or she is present in the plot, but the effect of that presence should be on the first page.

      Does that help?

      1. Yes, that helps. Also points out that my current WIP is probably not starting in the right place. I need to write more and figure out just what is going on. First draft: camera capture. Right. Second draft, I’ll know the conflict.

  4. While I’m reading this post about antagonists, I am also watching Person of Interest. I just started S5, but looking back on the first 4 seasons, there are a LOT of different antagonists. HR, Decima, Vigilance, Samaritan, the Brotherhood-plus whatever random criminal they are fighting. Then there’s Elias, who is both good and evil. So there is quite a bit of opposition to be faced in achieving their goals of helping the number. It almost seems futile, but human nature-at least the good side of human nature- wants to keep fighting. I have to say I agree that the last season will be a good place to stop, because the fight is exhausting.

    I’m also seeing the structure of the PoI, while I’m reading about Nita and the structure of her story. I see the turning points and beats, and can feel the escalation of conflict as the story progresses. The end of season 4, when everyone is exposed and even the Machine is compromised is absolutely a crisis point where there’s no going back.

    Thanks, Jenny for teaching me to be a better reader/watcher, and helping me understand WHY some things work while others fall on their faces. And for turning me onto PoI. ?

    1. You’re very welcome. So glad you’re liking PoI, it’s such a well-written (and acted and directed) show.


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