My first draft was like most first drafts: messy and shallow. The character and what's a stake were all ill-defined. My mighty protagonist, Tipper Jones, developed okay, but I needed a foil, a reason for her to take on the world. That was the missing link. Who was the antagonist? Some amorphous blog called "society?" How could I pit her against something without a name?
My next swing through, I decided I needed a better-defined antagonist, so I set Tipper up against the Shadow. Ooh, what a vicious, rigid character. The Shadow reacted against Tipper's need for self-definition and freedom from absolutes. There was no defying such a powerful character.
I thought I was done. I had it right. Tipper defied the Shadow and the Shadow gave chase. But then I realized something was still missing. The Shadow existed to serve the High Sovereign and the High Sovereign set the rules of society- so wasn't she the real antagonist? Tipper would have to challenge the Sovereign to make any lasting changes in her world. And therein lay the problem.
There was no connection between Tipper and the Sovereign.
Ever wonder why it can be difficult to become emotionally involved in fantasy? I did. I'd read and stumble through and think, I don't get it! The characters are great, the plot is flawless, so why don't I care about what's happening?
I've since learned the closer the relationship between protagonist and antagonist, the stronger the tension. Makes sense, doesn't it? It's that history between the two that pulls and tugs them apart. Think of it this way- a story between father and daughter and their struggles will have high emotional tension. A story of a young girl and the norms of society? Not so much.
So, it's back to re-write number three where I'll add a connection between the two--some past history that hints at the future. Then when Tipper takes on the Sovereign, it'll be personal.
What do you think? Care to leave a comment? I'd love to hear from you!