Welcome to Writers Talkback. If you are a new user, your account will have to be approved manually to prevent spam. Please bear with us in the meantime

where to start my Antagonist off

edited July 2010 in - Writing Problems
Hi everyone I would like your help in trying to decide where to start my antagonist of at in my novel which I am having problems wriitng as it would help. where would you start your antagonist off either in the begining of story or the middle which makes more sense to me. any ideas would be kindly accepted.



  • I'm pretty sure it depends on the novel Phil but to me without the antagonist where is the conflict? If you hold out until the middle of the novel then what is happening for the first half of the book and is it enough to keep the reader reading on?

    Even if the actual person doesn't show up until the middle surely you must set it up with foreshadowing, backstory etc in which case you need elements of the antagonist in there to construct that. On a personal level I always try and have the antagonist in there as soon as possible to set up the conflict, which is what story or drama really is anyway. Even from a readers point of view that's what I expect.

    As I say without knowing too much about your novel it's difficult to say, but that is how I'd approach it. Others may disagree.
  • I introduce mine fairly early in the story. It's better to build up their character slowly (in my opinion) so you can reveal the reasons that make them the antagonist and develop them fully, rather than just making them an adversary just for the sake of being evil. Like ST says, the antagonist is part of the protagonist’s conflict, and therefore must be part of the whole story.

    It all depends on what you're writing though, all rules are relative when it comes to writing.
  • LizLiz
    edited July 2010
    magic, you have been posting at intervals for a long time now and you never seem to have actually started writing... why don't you try a short story, or flash fiction first? That way you will be writing something without he weight of thoughts of plots, sub-plots and other things which seem to be immobilising you, while getting practice in at the same time.

    Or have you written some of the book and are now wondering if the antagonist should have been introduced earlier?

    It's very difficult without knowing what the story is, or even what genre, because there are so many ways of introducing them. After all, if it was a detective novel, the antagonist could be actually someone else entirely from the suspect.
  • I'd say whatever feels right to you and for your story (why not experiment and see which seems best?) but like BR, I usually introduce mine quite early on ( a few times I've introduced the antagonist in the opening chapter...at least an initial introduction that is).
  • I agree with Liz, Magic, you are constantly asking questions but not getting going.
    ALL books, stories etc need to start with action, action means people, people mean conflict and dialogue and movement.
    Go write!
  • edited July 2010
    I agree that it depends on your story. In mine, my antagonist is close to my heroin, but after writing the first chapter, I think he should be introduced to the main story later. Have you read about writing prologues?

    It really does depend on the situation though.

    Just had a thought, in my novel, the antagonist is causing my protagonist issues, but it is unknown. A lot of the main body of the story would be around internal conflict of my protagonist, which was caused by the antagonist. As a result, my antagonist doesn't really need to walk on stage, just that he needs to have a mention in dialogue or as a memory. But if it is an external conflict, I would say the sooner the better. In my example, my story will be character led. If yours is action led, you need them in there asap. But don't make it forced, don't enter your antagonist as if he is a puppet that the audience needs to see, but the audience doesn't know why.

    HTH x (I am really going to work now!)
  • edited July 2010
    In my book #1, there are good and evil characters who shake things up. The first real baddie shows up in chapter 5, and then a particularly wicked one arrives in chapter 7 (and his arrival is foreshadowed somewhat in the preceding three chapters). After that point, all of the really bad things that happen to my characters are because of him either directly or indirectly. I suppose he'd be the main antagonist, because he's the one my characters are most afraid of. In chapter 9, we meet another really bad fella, and he is the main antagonist in books #2 and #3.

    I think it depends on the book, and what fits or feels right for your story. There is no hard and fast rule about this though. I agree with what the others have said. Stop worrying so much about this, and just get down to the business of writing. Let the story write itself, and see where it ends up. Good luck!

  • Hi Magic. I hope I can help a bit, alongside everyone else's suggestions.

    I go with what Dorothy says: the book has to hit the ground running. Action on page 1, so something pretty conflict-like has to be where the story opens, although that may be a few pages before the $+-t hits the fan big time after another piece of information has been thrown in. The reader needs to know where the whole story is going in the first chapter or three.

    You may be familiar with Macbeth. Shakespeare starts the story with his antagonists, the three witches who will tempt Macbeth into his downward path to self destruction. A lesser playwright might have thought winning the battle was a nicely dramatic start to wow the theatre audience. Instead, we see these hags gloating that the successful battle means that everything has fallen into place for an horrendously ugly blood-fest. And it's the pure hero Macbeth who will be the ideal agent to make it happen: he can be persuaded to kill the King - the blackest depth of evil known to society in Shakespeare's day.

    So having met the antagonists, we then meet the hero, and are constantly saying to ourselves, No, don't listen. Don't do it. Look for a way out.

    I wonder if any of this can be applied to your story?
Sign In or Register to comment.