Do I Really Need a Bad Guy?


Perhaps I should qualify that yes.  It can be difficult to create meaningful conflict without a specific locus for the cause.  (Did I mention I like big words?)

The antagonist (or “bad guy”) doesn’t have to be a single character.  It can be nature (a hurricane can cause a lot of conflict) or an amorphous group of people (like a large corporation or faceless gang).  As conflict can be internal, your protagonist and antagonist can even be the same person.

But in fantasy, it’s often more straightforward to have an actual character as the creator of conflict.

I discovered this weekend that it is easier to plan the story when you know a bit of background behind your characters, including your antagonist.  I hadn’t really shaped the evil sorceress in Unexpected until I went for my walk on Saturday.  I know quite a bit more about her now.  None of the information that I developed will likely end up in the novel, but it did make it a lot easier to understand her motivation and therefore create a plan for rescuing someone from her clutches.  Just as there is a lot you can tell about a person from their house, there is a lot you can tell about someone’s house (or lair) from the person.

Even if you don’t need (or want) the back story of your antagonist, taking the time to give them a bit of depth can make your story that much better!