The antagonist often gets short shrift, especially in a romance where the lovers are united against him (she gets the main plot, he gets the subplot, the antagonist is the same for both). In that kind of book, the juice is in the lovers and the antagonist shows up to create pain which creates stress which creates adrenalin which spurs attraction which creates lust . . . . Yeah, the antagonist really should not be there as a sex toy, he or she should have a complete plot all to him or herself.
In Nita’s story, the antagonist is deliberately trying to kill, not to mention maim, poison, and put out of their jobs, Nita and Nick, but it’s to get them out of the damn way so he can achieve his ends. If they’d go someplace else and stop thwarting him, he’d leave them alone. Of course, during the discovery draft, I didn’t think much about his plan; bad stuff just happened to N&N whenever I needed bad stuff to happen. The antagonist–let’s call him Cthulhu since Nita does even though he is actually not an alien monster of the deep–has a very clear plan which he’s been pursuing over a fairly long time, and getting rid of Nick is part of it, but not the goal. Nick’s just in the way and refusing to die (again), so there’s a kind of Rasputin plot going on where Nick gets shot, stabbed, and poisoned, and still perks right along, making life hell for Cthulhu. And then there’s Nita, who’s the only one who says, “You know all this random stuff that’s going on? I think it’s one person.” Yeah, she has to go, too.
So I’m trying to look at the story from Cthulhu’s point of view. To him, Nita and Nick are gnats, they have to be brushed away so he can get what he wants. They’re annoying but unimportant. That’s why the assaults against N&N are so random. They get in his way and he swats them, but he’s always heading for the big payoff. Which is the plot I don’t have. I have the swatting stuff, but I finally took a step back and thought, “How the hell is he going to get what he wants? It’s impossible.” Of course, he’s nuts, so that’s a help, but still . . .
So that’s where I’ve been, trying to figure out Cthulhu’s plot. Still don’t have it. At this point, my brains are dribbling out of my ears. Talk amongst yourselves while go out to the backyard to scream.
ETA: So responding here has helped IMMENSELY and I can see Cthulhu’s plan now. You are all wonderful people and I will mention you in the acknowledgements if this book ever gets published.