Monday, 15 October 2012

When Bad Guys Aren't That Bad



Now that I’m past the first action scene, the words are beginning to come easier. (Except for today. Absolutely horrible.) I hit the 7K mark last week, and I’m smashing my way to 8K!

Lately I’ve been thinking about our bad guys, and how they don’t really have to be bad. You see, “antagonist” comes from a Greek word which means “opponent”. The antagonist simply opposes the protagonist. I think it’s also worth reminding that the antagonist should be the hero of their own story (except they normally lose).

I think the antagonists in ROGUE are good examples of that. While my antagonists are usually pretty bad, the antagonists (well, one group of them, anyway) are actually pretty good. They just oppose my protag.

It’s interesting to work with, and on one hand it’s actually easier than my previous antagonists – I don’t have to figure out their motivation like I did in EXCALIBUR and POSEIDON’S TRIDENT (“why does he want to overthrow the British Government?” “Why does he want to dry up the world’s water supply?”). But, on the other hand, they can’t really be as ruthless as my previous villains. Car chases kinda seem toned down when there isn’t any shooting… Fortunately, I’ll be having some gunfire in the coming chapters, and my bad baddies will be coming along soon!

What are your thoughts on “good” antagonists? Do you enjoy reading about them, or does it lower the stakes for you? What about your own antags? Are they “good” or “bad”? Let me know in the comments section! I’d love to hear from you!

6 comments:

  1. I think I like a good mix—I don't know if I've ever met anyone mwahahaha evil, so it instills that touch of realism, imho. And antiheroes! They're the best. ^_^ As you know, I've got a good handful of "bad" antagonists. I don't know if I've really written a "good" antagonist…then again, I've only written one book so far, so I don't have a very good sampling. I may have a couple planned. No gunfire for me, though, lol. High fantasy and more historical-type settings don't really allow for that. =)

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    1. That is true, no one is really "good" or "bad", so it would be unrealistic to have totally evil baddies. Everyone is something in-between,

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  2. Just coming across your blog--nice to meet you!

    Hmmm this is such a tricky question because, for me at least, it becomes tangled up with the problem of what it means for a human being to be evil. That's something I'm still trying to figure out.

    As far as stakes go, I think it's probably helpful to go for an antagonist who is very, very wrong in how he thinks about the world and wants to do something very, very bad...but is also completely believable. (Which, I think, requires mixing a little bit of human-ness into the character, even if you're mixing in the bad elements of what it means to be human.)

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    1. Hi Susan! It's good to meet you too!

      I agree, the antagonist should have his own twisted views about the world. I think the antag should think that what is right in his own mind. (Does that make sense?)

      Thanks for commenting, Susan! I hope to see you around the blog again!

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  3. Richard III is my favorite villain. Hands down. Shakespeare did it good. :)

    Actually, seeing that play inspired me to write a blogpost similar to this, called "I'm in Love...with the Villain." Depending on how well the antagonist is written and how good his reasons are, I sometimes end up liking him/her better than the protagonist(s).

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    1. Liking the antagonist over the protagonist has happened to me a few times too. I can't remember any specific titles, but I know there were a few Disney movies where I felt this way.

      Thanks for reading!

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