Writing Prompt #16 Does the bad guy have to be the antagonist?
As a side note: I am still working on finishing my brainstorming from yesterday. So for those that are looking for it stay tuned and you will not be disappointed. And for those more adventurous, post a comment on Part 1 here and help shape how Part 2 is going to look.
Meanwhile back to the Writing Prompt for today…
The antagonist of a story is the force that holds the protagonist back from achieving their goals. This does not always mean that it the villain or the bad guy of the story. While I know that this is normally the case, in certain genres and cases it is much further than the truth than you would think. A prime example is one that I heard on the podcast Writing Excuses. The link will take you to the specific episode in which Lou Anders, the Hugo-winning editorial director from Pyr books, describes the Hollywood formula. He also describes the roles of protagonist and antagonist in ways that are easily understandable and clear. The most surprising and as I said above prime example of an antagonist that is not the clear bad guy is in the movie the Dark Knight. In this I was like most people, I assumed that it was the Joker that was the antagonist. But in reality it was Harvey Dent that ultimately was the antagonist. All Batman wanted, his goal, was to be replaced as protector of Gotham. And Harvey Dent was the person that he expected to do it. But Harvey continually let Batman down with bad choices and flaws in judgement. I would like to say that I have explained this well, but trust me when I say that Mr. Anders does a much more amazing job in the podcast.
I re-listened to this podcast this morning while driving into work. And it made me wonder if I could come up with a story in which the bad guy was not the antagonist. And a character that is a supporting character, possibly a friend of the protagonist, is the true antagonist. All this without having a twist near the end where the antagonist turns out to be a villain. I am still working on my ideas for this. And I am challenging you to try the same. Just a short blurb, outline, sketch of plot. But see what you can come up with. Post it in the comments section and lets see what we can all come up with.
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Time to get some more coffee… Conr’