Making a bad guy is one of the hardest challenges a writer can take. The bag guy can’t just be tall dark and evil; he needs to have motivation, needs and desires to drive him to their goal. It goes hand in hand with crafting a hero, as most famous antagonists are strikingly similar to the story’s hero. Need some more explanation? Here are some examples of what I have found in similar protagonists and antagonists, both inside and outside literature.
- Hamilton and Burr (Hamilton, an American Musical) — While these two characters are based off real Founding Fathers, the dynamic that they are written in the musical is well done. Hamilton and Burr have desires and levels of education. They are both fathers, and want the best for themselves and for their country.
- Captain Hook and Peter Pan (Peter Pan) — I could honestly talk about this pair all day, simply because I’m a huge Peter Pan fanatic. Hook is viewed as a horrible pirate, one who seeks nothing more than the destruction of Peter and his band of merry boys. Hook is driven by hate and mental illness, believing killing Peter is the only way he can ever go back to his normal life. Though he has the body of a child, Peter is just as ruthless as Hook, killing the lost boys who get taller than him because they’re not allowed to grow up. Perhaps the reason why they rub off the wrong way is because they both want to be the top dog and are constantly at each other’s throats because of it.
- Sherlock Holmes and Professor Moriarty (Sherlock Holmes)—Moriarty was originally created by Arthur Conan Doyle in order to kill off Sherlock. Sounds like he was born to be bad, right? Destined to kill the hero, Moriarty is known for outwitting the great detective. Perhaps this is because he can anticipate Sherlock’s moves and find a way to outsmart his decisions before Sherlock can even make them. Only a man with a similar mind can think like that.
While finishing up editing your novel for NaNo (or just getting around to writing in general), think about what makes your antagonist an antagonist. What do you think makes a good villain?