Antagonists are a simple way to introduce conflict into a story, and the quickest way to create an antagonist who will fit in with the protagonist’s plot, is to consider their relationship.
What makes the antagonist difficult for the protagonist to deal with (and vice versa)?
How to Use This Worksheet
Antagonists who bear similarities to the protagonist are more difficult for the protagonist to deal with, because the character can’t completely distance themselves from them, and can’t knowingly treat them as “other” or “bad”.
Giving the antagonist both positive and negative qualities can also make them more difficult for the protagonist to overcome, because it makes them more human and more likeable.
To use this worksheet…
- Note down your story title at the top.
- Write down the character names in the shaded boxes on either side. Remember, protagonist and antagonist are relative terms; the antagonist is the protagonist of their own (life) story.
- List the negative and positive characteristics that each character possesses.
- Note down the conflicts that might arise from the differences or similarities between the characters.
- Create specific scene examples that demonstrate the conflict.
Positive characteristics they don’t share (with the antagonist): protective of those who are weaker
Negative characteristics they don’t share (with the antagonist): over-analysing other people’s actions
Conflict caused by their difference (to the antagonist): the protagonist tries to defend someone that the antagonist doesn’t believe needs protection
Specific examples of conflict: a scene in which P steps in to defend a co-worker who is being criticised by their boss for breaking equipment, and A argues that the co-worker ought to have done their job better.
Positive characteristics they don’t share (with the protagonist): able to learn fast
Negative characteristics they don’t share (with the protagonist): too eager to please
Conflict caused by their difference (to the protagonist): the antagonist is eager to please the boss by making the co-worker look bad.
Specific examples of conflict: a scene in which A tells the boss that they did extra research and learned not only how to mend the broken equipment, but also how to operate it more efficiently.
Positive characteristics they share: love the work they do
Negative characteristics they share: workaholics
Conflict caused by their similarities: they compete to get more done, and work longer shifts, but their family life suffers
Specific examples of conflict: P’s parent arrives at their workplace to confront them about putting work first, and embarrasses them in front of A.
If you’re working with The One Page Novel & Heroine Frame methods, you might like to pick the Positive characteristics from Stasis ARTs that are to be Transferred, and the Negative characteristics from Stasis ARTs to be Abandoned or Repurposed.
If you’re enrolled in How to Be the Heroine of Your Own Story, be sure to (re)read the following sections for more guidance:
- How to Create Difficult Villains & Antagonists;
- The Simple Trick to Three-Dimensional Characters;
- and How to Create Relationships.