“Antagonist is a character whose story is yet to be told.”
Every story has a hero and a villain. Antagonist is the villain we are going to talk about. Many authors would disagree with this statement but I don’t. For me my antagonist is the villain in my story because of the setting and the circumstances. Now my readers might fall in love with him (like they did when they read The Affair my first novel) or they might hate him. But they surely can’t ignore him/her. Here are some of the ways to create absolutely lovable antagonist for your next work of fiction.
Characteristics of a lovable antagonist
- Handsome/beautiful- Make him a dapper! Never judge a book by its cover but don’t we do that!? Readers fall for good looking boys and beautiful women. As readers we always go for the appearance first. The eye color, the length of the hair, the smirk and the chiseled physique. These are some of the most common traits used by authors worldwide. Some use these pointers to create memorable protagonist while some use them to create attractive antagonists. However, don’t overdo it because, that might trigger the doubt corner in your readers minds.
- Vulnerable– Make him/her vulnerable. Give your antagonist a disturbing back story. Like in the movie Joker. Make him suffer so much that your readers feel sympathetic towards him. Once you develop a soft corner in your readers hearts you’ve surely got them playing along. Your antagonist shouldn’t appear as a villain very early on in the story unless you are writing a crime fiction and have multiple narratives. However, if you want to bring about more twists and enhance the flavor of your storytelling skills, then there too you might want to delay the onset of your antagonist’s dirty games.
- Expressive– Once you’ve got the victim card going your way you can take it up a notch ahead by making your antagonist an expressive person. Make him open up about his traumatic past with the hero of your story. Make him/her your protagonist’s best friend or side kick. Once your reader starts trusting the villain you can be sure of having a jaw dropping end to your story. The point is to keep your readers guessing.
- Emotionally weak– Make him shed crocodile tears. Make him look a complete emotional wreck. A cry baby who can never even hurt a fly! Make your readers eat out of your palm. As a storyteller it’s our responsibility to give our readers value for the money paid by them. Make them believe your antagonist. I believe in making my readers fall in love with my antihero and then leave them bruised and shattered after revealing his true shades. It’s the Oh my God moments I write for.
- Suspicious– Try and make your protagonist look bad for doubting your antagonist. This is one of the cruelest ways you can create a lovable antagonist. By making the hero look bad and the villain look good. One of the finest examples I found of creating a lovable antagonist by using this technique was in The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides. It’s a psychological thriller and is beautifully narrated by the author. I was glued till the last page and it left me gasping was more!
- A solid reason– Give your lovable antagonist a solid reason for creating havoc. Like Joker had a traumatic past, medical history try and give your antagonists give such emotional reasons which would work as triggers for revealing their dark side.
“We all are bad in someone’s story.”
This brings me back to the quote I wrote at the beginning of this article. An antagonist is a character whose story hasn’t been told. When you create a lovable antagonist you create a backstory in the minds of the readers and that’s enough for them to judge him as a villain or as an antihero.
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