Types of Antagonist in Fiction

Before, I wrote a post on villains, but I would like to expand that topic in today’s blog post. First, sorry I’ve been MIA for a few days. Like with all social media, WordPress was keeping me distracted from something more important in life.

You may ask, “Aka, what’s more important than blogging and sulfuring the internet?”

I respond, “Writing my story, of course!”

Well, that’s what I’ve been doing the past few days. I’ve been working on Love for an Angel chapter 15, so I can post it next week. And alas, I also start a new job tomorrow. While I am thrilled to have a new opportunity, I am also saddened to be leaving a full 12 hour day of writing behind. However, enough of my ramblings, on to antagonist!

moriarty.gif

Just like the gif said, every story needs a good villain. In this post, we’re going to explore the different types of antagonist in fiction.

So, depending on the genre you write, can depend on what type of antagonist you have. For example, I’ve noticed young adult fiction always has the dun…dun…dun…EVIL ADULTS!

Yes, the classic evil adults. Evil adults usually consist of power craving, old ideas that teens don’t agree with, or just plain evil to be evil. O_o Personally, I don’t like the plain evil to be evil bit, but if you are going to go this route, try to write it well.

Stories – bestsellers, mind you – that have the classic evil adults are:

The Selection by Kiera Cass

That evil King who is stuck in his ways is against American Singer (yes, you’ve read that right, the mc’s name is American Singer. >.>)

Cress by Marissa Meyer

This time, it’s a power angry Queen. For shame on her going against a group of teens because she wants to stay on the throne! She is older, wiser, and has been a queen for years. However, those teenagers outsmarted her and all her soldiers. Hmm…

Last, but not least:

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What?! You are telling me the Queen and King want to keep us slaves to them so their power will stay intact? Well, us teens will take down a whole kingdom. Why? Because we can!

Ok, all joking aside, you do see the pattern here. I won’t analyze the evil adult because that should be understood, their evil because they desire their powers – simple.

Frankly, I find this to be the easiest antagonist to write. In Clash of Tides, I do have an evil adult, well, I have a few. Elena’s mother is evil because she wants money and power (see what I did there^^). And Assan’s mother, the mermaid queen, well, she is evil for other reasons I won’t say yet. *cough* revenge *cough*

Of course, not all young adult books have the same type of antagonist, but the majority is the same. The series A Shade of a Vampire by Bella Forrest actually had the main male character’s brother has the antagonist in the first book. The brother wanted the main female character for himself, but you get the point. However, the overall enemy was human vampire hunters, and they were not evil. They just didn’t like vampires.

Yep, evil adults:

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Ok, next! For adult fiction, I’ve noticed most antagonists are…other adults (yeah, that was easy) and a magical force (I’m looking at you Game of Thrones and the others). Now, unlike young adult fiction, adult fiction has more than one antagonist at a time.

Examples, and like before, I will be doing bestsellers:

The Shining by Stephen King

Darn those ghost egging on to murder

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon

That Captain Randall…he is really a twisted f*&^

Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

This is by far one of the best books about multiple antagonists. Not only is it adults vs. adults, adults vs. magical force; it’s also adults vs. insane teenagers. Yes, I’m referring to Ned vs. Joffrey. Sadly, if you read the book, you know what happens. In a way, it also features teens vs. teens. Finally, right? Sansa vs. Joffrey; it was scary to watch.

Now since we pointed out examples of adult fiction, let’s look at the villains. Antagonists in adult fiction need more substance to why they act a certain way.

When crafting your antagonist, ask yourself the following questions:

“What made them this way?”

“What are their motivations?”

“Do they have any mannerism or things that set them off?”

If you are crafting the “magically force” (yes, I am thinking Lord of the Rings)?

“What makes it powerful?”

“What’s the overall goal?”

“Are there any weakness?”

“What or who sealed it up in the first place?”

“How does it power react to the world?”

Whew, well, that was longer than normal, but I hope you found this post helpful!

Oh, and I reached 300 followers!! Love for an Angel will be updated next week!

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26 thoughts on “Types of Antagonist in Fiction

  1. I think a Y.A. book where the evil adult was once a Y.A. protagonist would be an interesting reversal of the trope. That repetition is what turns me away from Y.A. fiction. Really great post! And congrats on the 300 followers! I’m still working to break 50 haha.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Villains are a lot of fun to write. I can often empathize with their plights. I was the kid who often secretly rooted for the villain when watching cartoons or movies.

    It did depend on the story, but I often felt it interesting that many times villains (or the best ones quite often) don’t see themselves as inherently bad. It really adds the idea that many things in life and also fiction are nothing more than perspective.

    Anyways great post.

    Cheers! ^_^

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I was reading the blog of a fellow science fiction author on this very topic. With two novels, a novella, and a short story can I finally say that? The article was written awhile ago, but I found it to be greatly illuminating on the subject of the nature of villainy in literature. The author is Joe Vasicek, who writes great science fiction and maintains an excellent blog with enough traffic to make for lively debates. Don’t believe me, check the number of arguments he had on his Hugo Award blog entries! LOL! His post about villains in literature, both practically and as a trope, were well written. I highly recommend you read his blog and comment. While I like his work, one point he didn’t address was on the fleeting nature of villainy in modern times because villainy is often in the eye of the beholder. Yes, sometimes someone is so beyond the scope as to be universally evil (Hitler, Lucifer, the man who cancelled Firefly), but that isn’t always the case. Times change and so do social mores and values. Yesterdays heroes often become todays villains.. An example of that can be seen in how some view our Founding Fathers, the once heroes of our nation who today are only talked about in the context of their slave ownership or treatment of women. I’m not a fan of this, revisionism never sits well with me and I tend to judge people within the context of their time, but you shouldn’t ignore this in a discussion on villainy. I mention this because the tropes have been around for awhile. Look at the Grimm stories we read as kids, the classic fairy tales. The trick, when writing villains, is remembering that most evil people don’t truly see themselves as such. They believe, deep down in their heart of hearts, that they are doing right and will be judged accordingly… even if it doesn’t happen in their lifetime.

    Liked by 1 person

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