Friday, August 9, 2013

Begin with the Antagonist

Advice from writer Kristen Lamb -

In the early stages of building a story, develop the antagonist first. Don't start off with the hero. Must experiment with this.  Also, the thing about antagonists ? Evil is more interesting than goodness. So maybe starting off with the more 'interesting' character gives you more writing inspiration ? 

With no clear antagonist, it is impossible to know the core story problem in need of resolution by Act Three. It’s impossible to plot (even good pantsers still have to know the story problem). It’s impossible to generate dramatic tension and what we are left with is melodrama….and a great way of getting STUCK at 30,000 words and wanting to kill ourselves and give up being novelists.

The antagonist is the beating heart of the story. He/She/It creates the crisis and the crucible that forces our protagonist to become a hero. If we don’t know the endgame, we have no idea how to insert roadblocks, create misdirection, setbacks, or drama. So if you keep getting stuck? It might not be you are lazy or fearful (I wasn’t either). It might be your foundation (the antagonist/core story problem) either isn’t there or it’s weak and unable to support the bulk of 65-100,000 words.