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The Many Faces of Conflict: Crafting the Multi-Dimensional Antagonist

  • Bainbridge Artisans Resource Network 8890 Three Tree Lane NE Bainbridge Island, WA, 98110 United States (map)

Conflict is the novel’s engine. It propels the story forward, gives it energy and urgency. And who or what provides your protagonist with conflict? Opposition, in the form of an antagonist or antagonizing force.

Black-and-white villains are easy to write, but unsatisfying for the reader. Your narrative’s engine will stall without a multidimensional antagonistic force. Grit, drama, and tension are created when your antagonist elicits empathy, curiosity, fascination. When they show their vulnerable side (I know I’m not the only one who cried when Luke removed Darth Vader’s mask!). Lady Macbeth, Gollum, Severus Snape, Briony from Ian McEwan’s Atonement, Amy from Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl… the antagonists we hate to love as readers are the antagonists we most want to create in our own work.

Through a variety of craft-based exercises and inquiries, this workshop will examine your antagonist’s dimensions, motivations, and desires behind her or his darker forces.