Amazing Kids! Magazine

Writing Your Antagonist

By Salma Danuningrat, Writing Tips Editor


We live in a world with many memorable fictional villains: Lord Voldemort from Harry Potter, Darth Vader from Star Wars and much, much more. Your antagonist – the enemy, the bad guy, the villain – is a very important part of your story. Their purpose is to work against the protagonist and create hurdles for them throughout the story. But what makes an amazing antagonist? Here are some tips to put your villain on the most wanted list:

Your Antagonist has a Backstory – Every person has a reason for their actions, motives and intentions – bad guys included. Therefore, your antagonist should have a reason for being the antagonist. Was there something in their past which caused them to act the way they did? Did somebody blackmail them into doing something? Is your antagonist seeking revenge? No one is evil without a cause, so be creative with your antagonist’s backstory and come up with it first before you write your story.

Your Antagonist is a Boulder in front of your Hero – The purpose of your antagonist is to prevent the protagonist from getting what they want. They go against your hero’s motives and are determined to stop them. In a way, your antagonist is a part of your protagonist’s conflict throughout the story – aside from your hero’s internal barriers and other physical struggles, your antagonist plays a great role in your protagonist’s problems.

Your Antagonist has Wins… And Losses – Your antagonist shouldn’t be able to achieve everything they want at once – they’ll have ups and downs, wins and losses. They’ll fall and pick themselves up again and learn a few things before they strike back at your hero. If your antagonist was to constantly win and overpower your protagonist, you’d have a pretty quick (and pretty boring) story. What keeps your story going is the back and forth action between the protagonist and antagonist, which works up to the ending. Then will you get to decide who wins – or if no one does.

Your Antagonist is Imperfect – Just like your protagonist, your antagonist has flaws and mistakes. These imperfections are important to the story and keep your reader thinking and wondering. Without mistakes, your story would be predictable and your reader would lose interest. If we knew exactly that your antagonist’s – or protagonist’s – plan would unfold perfectly, would there be any excitement in reading about it?

Your antagonist and protagonist are two very similar, yet different characters. With different motives and reasons, but similar qualities – backstories, development, mistakes and conflict – it’s sometimes challenging to determine who is who. It’s commonly said that the protagonist is the antagonist in the antagonist’s story and the antagonist is the protagonist in the protagonist’s story. In other words, there are two sides to a story – the decision we have to make as writers, is which angle to write it from.

One comment

  1. this is cool writers tips now it should be able to write better.