August 17, 2012

Protagonist vs Antagonist

A protagonist is the main character in a novel or story that all the action revolves around. He/she us the hero of the story, the one we are rooting for from beginning to end. We follow his/her life, learn about his/her problems, and know his/her feelings and thoughts.

A protagonist needs a weakness. This weakness can be anything, from something that physically makes the protagonist weak to an event from his/her past that frightens him/her. It can even be a bad quality.

In my series, the protagonist has supernatural powers and a form of Kryptonite that hurts her. She also has many scars from her past that resurface during the course of the series and a slight anger problem that always gets the better of her.

A protagonist also loves. In every book, from every genre, the protagonist loves. If they don’t actually fall in love then they should show love. Another emotion a protagonist must reveal, at least once throughout the whole story, is fear. Fear is the most common emotion; it makes us human, and as I’ve mentioned before, you need to make your characters as real as possible. Even my main character, who is known to be fearless, experiences fear in each novel.

Most of all, a protagonist must struggle. Life is all about struggle. There needs to be conflict that the protagonist has to overcome whether it is beating cancer, putting a crumbling marriage back together, finding true love, or saving the world.
Every story has a protagonist but not every story has an antagonist.

An antagonist is a person who opposes, competes with, and fights against the main character in a novel. He/she is the villain of the story, the one we are hoping will fall to his/her demise. He/she causes problems for the protagonist, does everything in his/her power to ruin the protagonist’s life, and sometimes even tries to kill the protagonist.

An antagonist is driven to cause conflict on the main character out of pure spite or for a deeper, darker reason, and he/she won’t stop until the protagonist falls!

If you are writing the type of story that requires an antagonist, like a mystery, horror or thriller, here are six tips to help you create a powerful antagonist:

1. Surprise your readers by putting an air of mystery around the antagonist. Keep their identity and motive a secret.

2. Describe them in a darker light than you would the protagonist. Make them look evil!

3. Create dialogue that is sinister.

4. Make them cold-hearted. Other than hate and anger, don’t let him or her show any feelings, because an antagonist doesn’t have sympathy, compassion, mercy, and he/she certainly don’t regret his/her actions.

5. Have them do horrific things throughout the course of the novel, such as threaten, kidnap, torture, and even kill.

UPDATE: Thanks to a comment I received, I want to clarify what I said about the antagonist, especially #4. There are really two types of antagonists; the kind that is extremely dark and cold-hearted toward their victims and the kind that while they are portrayed as "evil" they still possess at least one good quality. Above, I was describing the first kind. It is always up to the writer on which version of the antagonist they want to use.

In my series, there are multiple bad guys and a few of them do show good qualities and even become good. But the main antagonists in my stories are too evil to show an ounce of goodness, because not all antagonists are meant to. But they definitely do have a weakness, which is #6.     

6. Give your antagonist a weakness. This weakness doesn't have to be a quality opposite from their demeanor, like one that is classified as good. The antagonist can have any type of weakness the protagonist can have, like a horrible childhood or a special weapon that could kill him/her (if you’re writing science fiction). But I believe that an antagonist’s hate, anger, need for revenge, etc. is the true weakness.

It’s ultimately up to you and your character.

P.S. I am a strong believer that the protagonist should win if you want to keep writing about that protagonist and don't want to anger your readers. You can let the antagonist come close to winning and make it seem as though he/she will win, but in the end the antagonist loses and the protagonist triumphs! But if you want to end the series, then by all means, let the antagonist prove victories.

#1. Who is your favorite protagonist from a novel/series?
#2. Who is your favorite antagonist from a novel/series?


  1. What if i created a blog with the same name as other blog accidentally? is that legal?

  2. If you're talking about having the same name for a blog post, like "Protagonist VS Antagonist" that is entirely fine because a title is not copyrighted. Some authors have the same book titles, but the content is different, therefore, not plagiarized. Though, if you found out that you had the same title as another blogger’s post, I would consider changing it because then readers would be able to differentiate between the two posts and tell that they are by two different bloggers.

    However, if you are talking about your entire blog having the same name as another, like my blog is called "Write With Fey", you may have a problem, especially if you use "Write With Fey" because Fey is my pen name. If it really was done accidentally, and afterwards you found another blog with the same name, it would be in your best interest to change the name, which can be done easily, because you want to be able to stand out from the other blog.

    The best advice I can give is that if you are afraid something isn’t legal in regards to writing and/or blogs, just don’t do it (or fix it) and stay on the safe side.

    I hope this helped you.

  3. Correct me if I'm wrong, but shouldn't the antagonist have at least one weakness? Like a quality that is somewhat classified as good. Not necessary sympathy, but like the protagonist has a bad quality to make them seem human, shouldn't that be the same case for the protagonist?

  4. Thank you for your comment!

    It depends on how you want your readers to see the antagonist. The antagonist can either be extremely dark, which is the version I was describing, or the antagonist can show at least one good quality. However, some antagonists aren’t meant to have even a sliver of good in them, but they definitely do have a weakness. I always believe that their hate, anger, need for revenge, etc is their true weakness in the end. But it's ultimately up to the writer.

    I will modify my post to clarify that. Thanks again!

  5. Such a great post :) It Helps actually :) ^_^ <3 Thanks

    1. Great! Thanks for visiting my blog, Dolly!

  6. Personally, I think that if the antagonist fights/ kidnaps the protagonist so many times, they're going to grow a relation ship of some kind. For example, in a book I am writing at the moment, for the umpteenth time, the antagonist has captured the protagonist's friend. Here is the conversation. “Good evening Acy, how nice to see you again.” “You know that your bait and fish tactic won’t work, right? You’ve tried it So many times now.” “Stubborn as always.” “I see that you are still wearing that hunk of junk. Ever heard of upgrades?” “Ha. Ha.” “And you made it easy to find your base. Again.” “Well where would you put it? Anyway, as you say, let’s get down to business. As usual I am going to do the usual villain thing and tell you what I’m doing and then gloat. Coffee?” “Yes please.”

    1. My general thought is the protagonist is still human.

    2. Of course the antagonist and protagonist are human.

      That conversation seems quite humorous. If the antagonist were a true villian, things wouldn't be so chummy. The antagonist in this post I describe is the truly sinister kind. A relationship with an antagonist like that wouldn't be a good one.