There I was clicking merrily away on my keyboard and slowly it started to all fall apart. My love interest did not do as I expected, and I realized I have no idea what my antagonist is doing. I lost track of them, the main and driving source of conflict and ruin and destruction. Kind of like the destruction of my writing schedule.
I had not properly deployed my antagonist nor tracked their moves. I had neglected to pay attention to my antagonist.
I needed to get into my antagonist’s head. I had to get into the mind of someone who is actively plotting against someone, and that’s foreign to me. I just don’t have time to be plotting against people in real life. But antagonists do. Is this one of the reasons why we love them? Do we secretly enjoy their scheming ways? Their single-minded, fanatic devotion to their goal, the object of their desire, even if it’s twisted. As a character in the OG Gossip Girl once said, “You know it’s love when you start talking like an assassin.”
Time to delve deeper.
In The Writer’s Journey, Christopher Vogler writes, “The story is only as good as its villain.”
“The antagonist must be as strong and motivated as the protagonist.”— Writing the TV Drama Series by Pamela Douglas.
In Screenwriting Tricks for Authors by Alexandra Sokoloff, the chapter on the forces of antagonism include an exercise to list your top villains/antagonists and find the themes to create your own.
My Top Five Fave Antagonists
Damon Salvatore from The Vampire Diaries . Well, first off, Ian Somerhalder as the “bad” Salvatore brother is smoking hot. Like any true bad boy, he’s hedonistic, self-centered, unapologetic, and destructive. You know what you’re getting with Damon Salvatore, which is a whole lot of trouble and nothing but heartache. But boy is he fun and flirty. “You call, I come. I’m easy like that.” Who wouldn’t want to hear those words from his mouth?
Paris Geller from Gilmore Girls. I very affectionately think of overachiever Rory Gilmore’s nemesis as “the thinking girl’s bitch.” Nobody could do a smart, eloquent take-down like Paris Geller. To top it off, pretty much everything she said was spot on. In a classic epic twist, she and Rory later became the best of friends, around season four when they’re in college and more mature. But we’ll never forget the young woman who, when greeted by Rory at Rory’s birthday party, said, “My parents made me come. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. You believe me, don’t you?”
Prudence Night from Chilling Adventures of Sabrina. Style for days. I’m sure that I will rack up many futile hours trying to imitate her smoky eyes and perfectly lined Goth lips. She’s a leader, and a bad ass, and loves her sisters. Does she have a sadistic streak? She sure does. But I’ll allow it, because she’s also got wicked daddy issues. Her light and talents are always being suppressed under the chokehold of her domineering and dismissive Father. She needs outlets for all that bullshit, and does she take them.
Chuck Bass from Gossip Girl (2007-2012). Why do I enjoy every scene this man is in? Why?? He’s smug, way too privileged, and goes around spying on people all the time from the backseat of a rich ass car that’s being driven by his chauffeur. He holds grudges, and once attempted to sexually assault someone. Talk about your ultimate creeper. Yet I can’t take my eyes off him. It might have something to do with the way the actor Ed Westwick plays him. Or how he truly cares about his best friend Nate and his on again off again love interest Blair. Like my girl Prudence, he has brutal daddy issues (sensing a theme here), always trying to prove his worth. He walks and talks with the poise and confidence of someone older than his supposed high school age. And he’s definitely the one you call when your back’s against the wall. (Oh yeah. I went there.)
Lalo Salamanca from Better Call Saul. Man, I love to hate this guy. Seriously. He’ll dazzle you with a smile and then viciously murder you with cold, dead eyes. He’s hella tenacious, crawling through sewers to get the drop on someone, and he looks good doing it.
While participating in aftershock Twitter therapy on the #BetterCallSaul stream one evening, I came upon a Hollywood Reporter interview with showrunner Peter Gould.
The interviewer asks Gould how he developed the character of Lalo, the formidable opponent to ultimate baddie Gus Fring. Gould says, “so here comes Lalo and he’s going to go up against Gus. So who is a worthy opponent for Gus, and what would he be like?”
Talk about confirmation.
Who are your favorite villains/antagonists? Let me know in the comments.
For more inspo, check out this video: “Villains I’d Let Disrespect Me… Respectfully” from Black Nerd Problems