I gravitate to narratives featuring a strong antagonist, someone who could have been a brilliant hero if only they had made different choices.
Authors work hard to create a strong, credible hero. In genre fiction, the hero’s story evolves in a setting of our devising and is defined by their struggle against an antagonist.
Strong emotions characterize what and who we perceive as good or evil. Emotion is a constant force in our lives. When we write, the emotions we show must be credible, shown as real, or they will fail to move the reader.
Consider the forces of antagonism in the story. The antagonist can take many forms. In some stories, it will be a person or people who stand in the way. In other stories, an internal conflict and self-deceptions thwart the hero. When you think about it, we are usually our own worst enemy, constantly telling ourselves negative things that undermine our self-confidence.
When we create an antagonist, we take what is negative about a character and take it one step further: we hide it behind a lie.
First, we assign them a noun that says who the antagonist thinks they are. Good.
Then we assign them the noun that says who the protagonist believes they are. Evil.
CONTINUE READING HERE
This is an excellent post with recommendations about writing crime. Thank you so much for your article, Connie.
I recently began reading a murder mystery where the author used a mushroom to kill the first victim. That’s where this book fell apart—the idea was good, but the facts and execution weren’t.
Using a mushroom stroganoff to poison him was a poor choice because fungi is an undependable weapon unless you are an expert. Also, individually, one mushroom may be more or less poisonous than another of the same kind, rather like people are. Judging how many one would need to kill a three-hundred-pound man takes more thought than I am capable of plotting out.
Also, it was stroganoff, which is basically beef and mushrooms in a sour cream sauce. This author danced over the fact that serving the food at this dinner party would have been a tactical nightmare. It would have been nearly impossible to ensure the intended victim got the poison mushrooms and no one else did, which is how this murder was written.
Agatha Christie knew that and regularly poisoned entire dinner parties, literarily speaking. Her murderers made everyone at the table sick but only the intended victim actually died.
This particular mystery was set in Scotland, and I don’t know how poisonous their mushrooms are, but I think that logic would hold true there as well as it does here in the Pacific Northwest.
If I hadn’t been on several nature walks with Ellen King Rice, a wildlife biologist and amateur mycologist who writes well-plotted mushroom thrillers, I would have accepted the slightly contrived fatal dinner as written and focused on the other failings of this novel.
This experience reinforced my belief that readers are often more knowledgeable than we authors are. E-readers can do the research just by highlighting the word and hitting search.
Lucy Mitchell explains why there is a magical relationship between a writer and notebooks. Thanks so much for your post, Lucy! How many people don’t understand that bond.
This weekend will be spent clearing out my dressing table and creating a temporary work desk. As I am working from home in my day job, the teenagers are off school due to half term, my husband is also working from home and we are in the middle of a strict lockdown, I cannot spend the next two weeks working from the living room. Not only will I have to put up with pyjama clad teens wandering about in the background while I am on Zoom calls, I will also have to listen to my loved one shouting at everyone to keep the noise down from his desk.
Underneath my dressing table there are three large boxes filled with notebooks. Some of my old stories were born inside these notebooks and some still reside between the pages. I have to write this post because I think my family believe this will be the weekend I finally clear out all my boxes of notebooks.
Lucy Mitchell provides us with a fantastic blog post about the question “How is your book coming along?” and the different answers. Please, go to her original post and publish your comments there! Thank you, Lucy!
I love this question – how’s your book coming along?
My reaction to this simple question can change daily, sometimes hourly.
Here are 10 different writer reactions to that question.
They are a mixture of some of the reactions I have overheard during my time as a writer and my own. I will let you work out which are mine 🤣
1. ‘Great thanks!’ Beaming smile and twinkling eyes. All is well in Writing Land.
2. Awkward silence on the writer’s part. There are no words to describe how that book is coming along.
Thanks for a great article about other writer’s writing process vs. our own. I think I still need to learn how to do what you did already.
I love experiencing what I call a writing epiphany. They’re not regular occurrences and I think this is what makes them so wonderful. Mine always seem to occur while I am in my little car on my way to work at around seven in the morning. This is the time of the day when my brain will be chewing over an aspect of my WIP or a writing issue and then it will make a shocking revelation. I will then whisper, ‘OMG’, squeal with delight as everything has suddenly made sense, babble about the epiphany to myself for a mile or so and then turn up my 80’s hits for a celebratory sing-song. My day at work will then be a breeze. As I said above these are NOT regular occurrences.
Well, I had one of these moments a few weeks ago. I realized it was time to stop…
Thanks so much for this very educational and supportive article on your blog Blonde Write More, on how to survive deleting characters. So far I haven’t had to do that yet – but I admit, I had to kill one of mine which nearly broke my heart.
Writing the death of a much-loved character can be demanding and can leave you emotionally wiped out.
Did you know that there is another literary situation which can be just as challenging and one which can cast a nasty gloom over your writing life – deleting a character from your story.
I am not talking about deleting a random minor character; a fictional person who you created one day after too much coffee and inserted into the middle of your novel, just to beef it out (technical literary term) and then deleted them the following day after realising your stupidity. *Sigh*
No. I am talking about those major changes to a draft which result in you deciding to get rid of a key character.
I guarantee this fictional person will have been with you since the start of your story and someone who you have history with. You and this character will have been through some stuff; your rocky first draft, that dreadful second draft which no one liked, your third draft where you felt all hope was lost and the fourth draft which resulted in you wondering why the hell you had ever taken up writing.
You and this character will have shared story in-jokes. They will have been there for you during the bad times. You know them inside out and they are like a good friend.
Lucy Mitchell of Blonde Write More provides us with an interesting post about not committing to a genre. Thank you Lucy.
Phenomenal Marketing post, written by N. N. Light. Tanks so much for this amazing article!!
Lucy Mitchell of Blonde Write More has published a list of things writers should pack for their 2017 writing journey. Thanks so much for the humor Lucy!