Antagonising Antagonist

The antagonist, the adversary of the hero is giving me grief. And so it should, as I am the protagonist in my memoir. A vicious circle, the chicken or the egg or the egg or the chicken has me chasing my literary tail.


                                               Adolescence                     Acceptance

                                  Marginalisation                                             Prejudice

                                                   Fashion                              Beauty



Here they are the tenants of my experience. An unsavoury bunch to say the least but then another player enters the game: the inner critic. At this point my inner world becomes unbearably cluttered and I do another lap; the chicken or the egg.

Where did this begin? How did I sell my soul to the anorexic experience? Why is it such a tenacious entity?

It’s taken me a while to figure it out, forty years of living past the physical manifestations, through the emotional roller-coaster and into the psychological domain.  I have rewritten this experience five times in the past two years, unable to encapsulate it. Trusted feedback said, ‘A brave attempt but…” I couldn’t ignore the BUT. Half way through my sixth revision, I discover that the antagonist has the wrong voice and point of view.

I’m speechless, my computer and close friend still. The words cease to flow.

Like death, in the Book Thief, my antagonist is not a person. It is a mind-set driven by marketing machinations and manipulated human desire. It is slick. It is persuasive. It is everywhere. Google gets another work out:

  • the psychology of manipulation
  • the adolescent mind
  • the social influences of the mid-seventies
  • how to write a manipulating antagonist
  • … and more

My note pad is getting fatter as look for a path through the mire. I walk and walk and walk. I leave the dog at home and walk some more. His big brown eyes look up at me, ‘No, not another walk.’ Walking helps me think; left, right, left, right, rhythm, grounding, meditation.

The past five days have brought me a long way. My antagonist now has a foundation. It has some character traits and a direction. Now I just need to give it breath, polish and a slick voice. Initially deflated by my discovery, I have managed to turn it into an exciting challenge and  look forward to conveying its manipulative ways to paper. The antagonist lives. We shall battle to the end.

Kindly share your experiences of writing the antagonist.


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