Some advice, please.


The antagonist in my next book is called The Antagonist. At first I thought this would be temporary, hoping that something better would present itself. Besides, giving the bad guy a bad guy syndrome sounded like a bad idea (pardon the pun). Frequently a character would be named Girl With Hat, or Guy2???, until a more suitable name came to mind.


But I've come to love this character so much that I can't kill him off or change his name! I've described his journey from average joe to bad guy, detailing how his menace grew and how he transformed/morphed from good to bad. Essentially he has become (wait for it...) - The Antagonist.


My question: How would a reader receive a character called The Antagonist?


James Fouche

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I'm not too sure. I personally love the idea. After all, Neil Stephenson had Hiro Protagonist. I feel that the name though also elicits a desire to have him really be a bastard. Creating accidents and working the blackmail racket. He needs to be, in my opinion, someone who breaks people mentally.

my 2cents

Right you are, Erik.


Instead of overloading him as a proper bastard, I rather opted to tell how he went from a normal person to a bad guy. After all, most bad guys were normal once. The exception to the rule are the few tormented souls who were abused as kids and who cut open pets for fun. Plenty books have been written by them. They are serial killers - not really white collar material.


This guy had a family, his intentions were good, but once you steal a couple of million bucks, you'll do anything to keep it. The soul turns murky - and then black.


I love the mental breaking of people. This I could really use towards the end, to feed his manipulative nature.



It's really distant for a reader.  Also, my guess is you get a lot of repetition.
IJ, I tried to keep repetition down to a minimum. It pains me to see something over and over. The last thing I want to do is bore the reader.
One of the problems I see is with POV. Who's calling him The Antagonist? Is he calling himself that? I don't think most criminals think of themselves that way. One of the worst villains ever was Hannibal Lecter, and even he was able to rationalize his actions.
Jude, it's written in a third-person POV. My intention was to rationalize with the reader by describing the becoming of an antagonist, like explaining seed to plant to fruit to seed.
Does anyone else ever refer to him? Speak to him or about him?

Well, the irony is that The Antagonist remains such until his true identity is revealed in the end.


In other words, the character shifts around unnoticed as himself. As The Antagonist he could be one of twelve people. So the interactions take place from the POV of The Antagonist interacting with other characters - scheming, plotting, etc. But also from POV's of other characters seeing the Antagonist as someone of no importance.


Dana, in your experience, will this confuse the reader too much? Or can it work if it is done properly?

I don't quite follow this.  Do you mean you have a group of characters you present in the third person pov, and then you shift to 1st person to let one of them comment on the action, and this character is the antagonist, and we must guess which one of the others he is?

It sounds feasible but incredibly difficult not to give himself away.



I kept everything 3rd person, but I would shift from one character to the other. The trick was to avoid POV of a number of characters who could possibly be The Antagonist. Ambiguity was my main aim here.


Example: Boss of company is one POV, secretary is second POV. One of the 12 Members of the Board is the Antagonist, so there is ample room to play off a mystery with boss POV, secretary POV and Antagonist POV, without revealing the identity of Antagonist.


Does this make sense?



We usually write in third-person limited, though, as opposed to omniscient. Jame Gumb, for example, would never refer to himself as Buffalo Bill. His chapters are in third-person, but they're limited to his thoughts and perceptions.

I read you loud and clear, Jude. I'm trying my best to refrain from the character thinking of himself as The Antagonist. I'd rather say, "The Antagonist picked up the cup" as opposed to actually referring to himself as The Antagonist.


Unfortunately it's imperative to keep the character's true identity secret until the last possible moment. This meant creating conflicts with additional characters and introducing more suspects.


I want to take the readers into account but I don't want to walk on egg shells either. The style still needs to be essentially me, but not too elaborate or complex. The lead character in my last book backfired badly. Fellow writers (and readers who appreciate complex characters) loved him, but the conventional reader was a bit perplexed.


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