Monday, September 1, 2014

Crafting Your Best Story - Tip #21 - Protagonist vs Antagonist

In case you don't know, and some people don't and that's okay, Protagonist is a fancy word for Main Character. Harry Potter is a protagonist. Bella Swan is a protagonist.
I like to call my main character, Protag for short, but it's not a word you'll find in the dictionary or that spell check recognizes. :)
Most books have only one protagonist, but if you're writing a book from more than one point of view, then each pov will have it's own protagonist. Maggie Stiefvater does this in her Shiver series when she alternates chapters between Grace and Sam and later, Cole and Isabelle.
You already probably know that the antagonist is the bad guy. The most obvious antagonist in Harry Potter is Voldemort. 
Often in any given story the protagonist faces more than one antagonist. We see this a lot in comic book stories such as Spiderman. In the first movie Spiderman had to take on the Green Goblin.
But, your antagonist or antagonists are not only other humans or human-like forces. An antagonist is any one or any thing that gets in the way of the protagonists quest or goal.
The antagonist can actually be a situation like a war or bad weather that is the protag's hurdle.
And very often, I'd say almost always, there is something called the Inner Antagonist. The inner antagonist is a belief system that gets in the way of the protag's goal or quest. In Harry Potter one of Harry's inner antagonist's is his belief that he can't be the one chosen to conquer his outer antagonist, Voldemort. He is constantly questioning his call and abilities.
In Twilight, the human antagonist is James, the vampire that hunts Bella. Her inner antagonist is her belief that she is not worthy of Edwards love, and also her growing mixed feelings for Jacob.
In Spiderman, Peter Parker's inner antagonist is his desire to get revenge and his belief that these feelings won't change him for the worse.
When you are plotting out your stories, make sure you understand who your antagonists are, both inner and outer, and how they are going to work towards thwarting your protag's quest or goal. And in the climax, your protag must conquer his outter and inner antagonists.

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