In seeking the silence that feeds my imagination, I went to my favorite park, lovingly called “the trail park” by my children because that’s all that’s there – trails. No playground, no flushing toilets, just trails and nature.
As I perfected my speed walking and burned those pesky calories, I noticed clumps of daffodils in the woods; little communities of yellow, huddling together for warmth on this cool Spring day. I also noticed several daffodil petals on the trail, then a flower stalk, then a flower head. My writer’s mind immediately pictured the villain: a boney little girl with cold, white fingers, tearing apart the flowers and scattering them along the trail, leading my curious mind toward its doom. What was this evil child’s motivation? Was it an expression of frustration, a release of anger because of her over-bearing parents? Did she enjoy the feel of petal fibers shredding as she peeled them away and dropped them to the ground?
As I turned a corner, I saw the culprit. She was boney…and cute. “Mommy,” she called to a woman further down the trail, “look at the trail now! Doesn’t it look prettier?” She skipped away, tossing another petal onto the bland trail, decorating the asphalt with brilliant yellow.
Lesson learned: my trail of actions can easily be misinterpreted, both in my life and in the lives of my characters. Being a writer, I’ll delve into my own life later :) First, how can I use this incite to strengthen my characters?
Antagonists, the ‘bad guys’, are best despised by the reader when he or she isn’t one-dimensional. An evil intention with a purpose creates sympathy. Imagine the reader’s torment if, upon learning the antagonist’s reasons behind his actions, secretly hopes he wins while also cheering the protagonist, the one whose purpose is valiant and worthy.What a dilemma! This recreates the equivalent to two well-matched basketball teams competing during March Madness, the most exciting games to watch!
The background behind the master-mind plots: to take over the world, to win the girl, to get away with the crime – that all leads to a more credible story. Explore the antagonist’s story. Write it. If you take the time away from working on the main plot to have fun writing the story of your evil-minded character, you’ll find a treasure-trove of plot enhancers and personality quirks. I promise.
Why does this work for the reader? Why would a reader cheer for the antagonist? Because we all have a little darkness within us…as seen in my first interpretation of the flower-beheading little girl at the trail park.
Here’s a question to consider… What would happen to your story if the antagonist wins?