Deep breath. Let's explore that rant a bit closer.
As I mentioned in my previous post, I write YA fantasy in the first person. My process begins with developing the MC, her wants, her needs, and her world. I love creating the character who drives the story. This is, I'm now finding, a typical beginner's error.
But it's not my fault! (best whiny voice). Just search "writing a novel" and you'll learn all about developing character arcs and plot structure, and few posts focus on developing the villain, the baddie, the antagonist. Or maybe I just had my blinders on.
This is why, 40,000 words in, I found myself at my computer, holding my head and groaning. I thought I knew the opposing force against Phila (my MC). I had some idea of the problems she would face and how she would overcome them. I even understood her lie, dang it! But no matter what I did, I couldn't press ahead. It was like a kitten had gotten a hold of my draft and tugged on all those loose ends until it ended up looking like this...
Perhaps this part of this post should be called "Just how much focus should a writer give a villain anyways?"
Turns out, a lot, as in as much time and dedication as it takes to develop a solid, compelling MC.
After realizing I didn't know my antagonist, not really, I dug out my notebook and filled page after page, focusing solely on the villain's world. And what happened astounded me. I fell in love with my baddie, and not only that I realized I had more than one (more on this in the next post).
Suddenly, I could see the antagonist... his wants, his needs, his goal in this story. And further, I understood the arc of the story better.
The hardest part of writing in the first person is remembering you, the author, have to know what's happening beyond the character's realm of understanding. That's right, you have to play God.
My MC may know someone's working hard to capture her, but she doesn't know why and that motivation brings depth to the story, especially later, when she confronts the antagonist and learns what he's after and what he'll do to achieve his goals. A side benefit? It creates an awesome twist in the second half of the story.
My next step, after finally getting a grip on my antagonist is incorporating this information into the story world.
In this WIP, it'll be with a few brush strokes... a brief encounter in the opening chapter to set the stakes, then it's on to finding opportunities for Phila to learn about the Balfour (the first level antagonist) from her sister, who has had direct contact with him. Scenes leading up to her encounter with Balfour that once focused only on Phila's immediate needs will now have an undercurrent running through them, and undercurrents create tension.
I leave you with this thought- how many cool stories can you create centering around your antagonist? If you're like me, you'll end up with loads of awesome, spine-tingling scenes that simply must be shared. And not one to miss an opportunity, I'll do just that. Look for short stories, snippets and villainous scenes in future posts!
I bid you happy, evil (maw haw haw), writing!