Writing Tips & Tools

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Lesson 12: Antagonist Continued

by Bonnie Calhoun

Today we continue with Donald Maass' Writing a Breakout Novel.

What I am going to endeavor to do here is present truncated versions of each of the lessons in the workbook. This will by no means suffice as an alternative to reading the book...or the workbook. I hope it piques your appetite to buy the books. They are invaluable reading and reference!

Today's lesson is in Section One: Antagonists Outline.

This is a continuation of yesterday, because I don't like to make the lesson too long...it makes me want to fall asleep, so I know it messes with ya'll!

Today we're going to do an exercise to develop the antagonist. The person we love to hate!

Step 1: What makes the antagonist the top on your dislike list? What's their biggest problem, conflict or goal?

Step 2: What does the antagonist want most in this world?

Step 3: What is the second plot layer for the antagonist?

Step 4: Name the five important steps toward your antagonists goal, or towards resolving their central problem or conflict. In other words, what are the five events, actions, or high points, of the antagonist that you could not possibly leave out.

Step 5: Name the three important steps toward, or away from, the antagonists' greatest need.

Step 6: Using the above material, outline the entire novel from the antagonist's point of view.

Note: If your novel doesn't have an antagonist, who or what opposes your protagonist. What if it's internal. Can that internal conflict have a life and personality of its own?

Follow-up find five new ways in which your antagonist can advance his/her own interests. Let these be actions that have nothing to do with your hero.

Conclusion: We don't usually think about the antagonist's inner journey...Humanize your villain. Motivate his/her actions with kindness. Let him/her be heroic, helpful, and principled...let evil wear a compassionate face!


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