Sunday, April 25, 2021

When Your Antagonist Is the Whole World

Our topic at the  SFF Seven this week reminds me of an AP English essay question. The question is: "The Antagonist’s Arc - how do you choose one that will not only compliment your protagonist’s arc but drive it?"

Okay, you guys know me. Or you SHOULD by now! As soon as we get to the "how do you choose" part of the question, you've lost me. I mentioned (briefly, as a drive-by remark) that Meyers-Briggs puts me pretty squarely and consistently in the INTJ category. I think, I judge, I am an introvert, and - that capital N? - that correctly identifies me as an intuitive.

People, I am an intuitive writer. I don't know what to tell you. GMC (Goal-Motivation-Conflict)? I have no idea. Character analysis? Not gonna happen. Picking out a plot ahead of time? Don't make me laugh!

How do I find out what the antagonist's arc is? I watch them when they appear on the page and follow along. Because I'm not much of a believer in black and white lines, my antagonists tend to change over time, better or worse, depending on how their lives are going. 

Now, I can tell you of something I did work up deliberately with a fair amount of mulling on top of the intuition. In DARK WIZARD, book #1 in my new Bonds of Magic dark fantasy romance series, the antagonist is not a person. Yes, there are characters making the lives of my protagonists very difficult, which will wax and wane, as is my wont. But the real antagonist of the story is the world itself.

Or, more precisely, it's a repressive political and social system. All the characters are caught up in this rigid and ancient system. Some benefit from it. Some are crushed by it. Only a very few live outside of it, and even they are impacted by its far-reaching effects. As the series progresses, everyone in this world will be affected by what happens when a few people take on the gargantuan task of changing the world they live in. 

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