The Barb: Antagonist Ideas

That mind bending question: how? The antagonist in my current manuscript is the inner critic. In order to give this ethereal character depth, I delved into its origin. A hungry beast it needed food, so I decided to feed it well on:

  • beauty
  • fashion
  • status
  • wealth
  • acceptance and recognition. A gourmet delight!


I hate it when I can’t figure things out. So the google muscle worked at 1 RM. It’s developing nicely. I’m hoping my research will help you to fashion the antagonist in your own writing.


Conflict can be internal or external. External sources include:

  • person Vs person
  • person Vs nature
  • person Vs society
  • person Vs machine, technology etc.

Internal conflict centres around your characters self-doubt, Pandora’s box no more, no less. Anorexic adolescent years …

The hero and villain can share common ground having similar personalities, values and goals. What the villain personifies lies at the extreme end of the protagonists acceptablity. She brazenly explores dubious facets of the truth or morality and shares a strong interest in the protagonists primary goal (the main reason they keep coming together).

Traits of a Strong Antagonist

  1. The antagonist has a goal.
  2. She is motivated by personal desires.
  3. Not timid, she’ll act.
  4. There is something she is wants to gain. It’s her right and she is right.
  5. She hides a weakness or fear.
  6. Watching the protagonist she adapts her schemes.
  7. A point of redemption gives her the human touch.
  8. The reader can relate to her flaws.
  9. Skeletons live in her closet.
  10. She is in the way of the protagonists goal; overtly or subtly.

NB. The antagonist is successful if the reader engages, either loving or hating her.

Types of Antagonist

I find the techniques used in film appeal to my way of thinking. Non linear plots, parallel story lines and interesting characterisation can spice up a ‘Plain Jane,’ tale. Here are some of my favourite antagonist archetypes:

  • the anti-villain
  • the authority figure
  • the beast
  • the bully
  • the corrupted
  • the criminal
  • the disturbed
  • the equal
  • femme-fatale
  • the henchman
  • the machine
  • mother nature
  • pure evil
  • the supernatural

By the time I’d explored some of these ideas, my antagonist consolidated in my mind. Now I have to get her on the page. What is your favourite antagonist? Leave a comment.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s