1 - The Cruel Antagonist

1 - The Cruel Antagonist

A Lesson by Meeks

Everybody hates cruel bad guys. Which is great for us...


It's like the bully on the street!
Everybody dislikes physical and emotional pain. We've all have experienced it before, and we all know enough to avoid it at all costs. Very often, people feel vengeful against others who have caused them pain. Vengeful, but also respectful. If they caused pain once, they can do it again, right? So we don't mess with them, even though we hate them.
Tada! An image we can use.

Your bad guy shouldn't just 'not mind' causing pain. That kind is almost understandable, good causes, patriotic views, wider goals, for the good of humanity or something. It might seem as if your antagonist doesn't like pain, he just has to cause it. Everyone caused some pain to others, even by accident. And what would happen if people noticed? They might not absolutely hate the bad guy, and so they won't connect with the protagonist! 

That is why your Darth Vader should absolutely love causing pain. He enjoys it, he enjoys the screams, the whimpers, the face of the victim, he enjoys it all. Bloodthirsty, admitted, but also hate-able and obviously dangerous. You kind of immediately want to go into the story and punch him in the face, even though you know you will get it worse than the hero. Which is the effect we want.

Remember to show, not tell. Especially character qualities, express them by showing the actions. Don't tell me your character enjoys pain, show him smiling as he hits the hero with his brass knuckles yet again, splattering blood and teeth and... you get the image.

An example of a cruel antagonist can be found in 'The Patriot' - William Tavington.

EXCERSIZE: Set a timer for ten minutes. Write a short scene in which your antagonist, the bad guy, decides to beat the living daylights out of the hero. Or someone else who the readers enjoy. Maybe, like a small kitten? Everybody loves kittens, right?
For real though, just have your bad guy enjoy giving pain to another, innocent character.

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Added on December 1, 2015
Last Updated on December 1, 2015
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Hey guys! I'm a sixteen year old writer trying desperately to make something publish-worthy. In the meantime, I hand out useful critiques and comments. Currently trying to work on something diffe..