Pretty Bad

Posted: December 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

When done right this character will always attract people. We love to hate them and sometimes we love to sympathize with them. All stories need the effect of war. A civil war, a metaphor for inner conflict or more often than not just plain war. For this we need circumstances and usually of course an effective antagonist. All stories don’t need them, but aren’t they just so interesting to work with?

Antagonists. I can spend hours telling people why I like them. Sometimes I can’t pinpoint it, but it is the truth. What would Batman be had the Joker never existed. He’d be alright, but let’s agree he would be much less. This has to do with the mysterious part of some antagonists. We seldom go into their point of view, but they play an integral part in our stories. Sometimes they are just so well defined and this can be seen in their action and then they turn out to be a rounder character than the protagonist. There are a bunch of antagonist types and I won’t even dare to say I know all of them, but I will discuss the two main branches.

The delusional type who believe they are doing right and the other type the: evil embracer. There may be a balance between the two types as a character believes some of the things he has done can be wrong. What many authors often miss when working with arcs is the antagonist’s arc. This is not always possible as the antagonists isn’t usually the main character, but when working with an antagonist you can work with his moral decline or increase and this is a very interesting subject.

Most often we don’t see the deluded bad guy in his extreme state because that shifts the focus on the antagonists. It is thus understandable, but I adore the deluded antagonist, because some readers will have sympathy with the character. That said, most antagonists are deluded to morality in general. They do what is right for them. What is the difference then between the deluded bad guy and the one that embraces evil. Simple, the embracing part. It is all about belief in what is right and wrong. If the character admits what he is doing is wrong, but does it anyway you will know he isn’t deluded. The Joker for example blatantly admits he embraces chaos. This is not delusion. However, most of the times we have a mixture of delusion and admittance of evil doing. Then we can still tell by their intentions.

A big question that many antagonists will face and will give away whether they are believing in a lie is if the end justifies the means. An evil embracer doesn’t even bother with the question. That is a tell tale sign: The “I don’t care about justify, I do what profits me.” Some will argue that that in itself is a justification from their view. That justice doesn’t matter. It’s a dog eat dog world. The truth is you will know the balance and if your antagonist is truly evil. When it comes to video games and movies I remember the quotes of those antagonists. In videogames the antagonist is usually the focus and that is why I love them probably. IF you are familiar with Borderlands, two words… Handsome Jack. This guy actually was some hero, he did save lives and he hated the idea of murder, but then the disillusioned part kicked in. He got stabbed in the back by heroes who thought that he would turn evil with power. (they maybe had a point) This in turn turned him into a vengeance seeking maniac. He is a well defined antagonist and his wit is amusing at worst.

You will know you have a great antagonist if you off him. If you don’t, just imagine you ending him. If it makes you sad… well and if it makes you feel pretty bad… just know that the bad can be pretty sometimes and authors need to utilize this.

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