Top 5 Ways To Develop An Antagonist In Your Novel

Our antagonist is the worst of ourselves and our experiences. What we seek to change and what we know we can't. Here are the 5 steps to develop an antagonist in our novel.

Step 1: Appearance

Would unassuming be the best trait for a monster to have? To be able to commit acts of chaos in broad daylight without suspicion. For the sake of pragmatic thought let's label this as one. In committing any crime the greatest priority is to avoid detection, as evidenced by the number of arrests there are, this is no easy task.

Given your novel is your take on the world there are multiple ways to handle this, but the simplest would be to have a very antagonist that blends in well. Having no distinguishing features to set them apart in a crowd; With such a disconnect between the actions and appearance, one would incriminate themselves first.

Step 2: Motive

"For the greatest form of good" its been reworked many a time, but the motive stands. The antagonist should have the foresight to predict future events and use that to justify their extremism, assuming the worst course of action is the most likely one.

Everything the antagonist does should be in their eyes preventative measures to their foreseen cataclysmic event. The best antagonist is one that has a point that can't truly be disproved and shakes the protagonist's stance on what they hold true.

Step 3: Connection to the protagonist

The deep connection of the protagonist and antagonist can be relayed in a shared history or in shared ideals. There has to be a level of understanding that would show a connection of minds.

Assuming they aren't going to be in direct contact all the time, the protagonist has to be able to understand the motive of the antagonist simply from observing their actions. Why would they do what they did? Understanding how someone's mind works is the basis of nearly all books. Make it something unique and engaging.

Step 4: Personality

"Love to hate them" give your audience a character to despise, nothing less than the worst of the worst. Creativity is key, draw from the wellspring of negativity that drives your worst impulses.

Your character can act on all these uninhibited, it really falls on you how bad the character can be. What thoughts go ignored in your mind because you couldn't bring yourself to face them? Show the audience through your antagonist and the lengths they will go to accomplish their goals.

Step 5: Final Confrontation

Where the bubbling tension spills over after excessive heat. The final confrontation is dramatic and intense, something the audience has wanted from the beginning. Pack your story full of narrative explosives to make sure the detonation is flawless. The more that rides on the battle the better, innocent lives being paramount.

However, give an air of vengeance, make it clear how this is deserved, how much suffering had to be turned into a strength. This is the release for the reader, one way or another everything has to come to an end.

picture of an antagonist
Antagonist!! image source: anglingtrade

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