While paperback formatting, book covers and graphics have an impact in the promotion of a book or story, seasoned authors know that selling begins with the story itself. As such, a good author will come up with stories that will easily spread like wildfire once two or three persons have read it. One thing with a story that an audience can read from cover to cover (sometimes more than once) and share it, that it has interesting characters. This article focuses on the antagonist, the character that the audience want punished severely, yet he/she/it keeps the protagonist on toes, always providing an obstacle to challenge, a force to overcome, a threat to eliminate and so on.
Whether it’s family drama, love story or adventure, a captivating story must project conflict strongly to give relevance to main characters, specifically the protagonist. You can achieve this by creating a ruthless antagonist that makes things very difficult for the hero of the story. Below are a few tips that can help keep an audience closely following an antagonist they hate with all their hearts!
Give the Antagonist Justification for What They Do
You should provide justification for why the antagonist stands in the way of the protagonist. At least from the antagonist’s point of view, there should be a good reason to want to stop the protagonist from achieving their goals in love life, career or education. The “villain” should be convinced they’re doing what have to do (and what anybody else in their circumstances would do) to survive.
Make the Antagonist Smart
The villain can’t match the exploits of your protagonist if they’re not shown as smart enough. A smart antagonist will always catch unawares the protagonist and by extension your audience. For instance if your story is about a wrongly jailed person trying to break out of prison, the antagonist can be the jailbird smart enough to know what’s going on, even when they weren’t part of the original escape plan.
Resist Attempts to Kill the Antagonist
For a very captivating story, it reaches a point when a section of your audience wants the antagonist killed. However, if this happens you’ll have to create another antagonist to keep the story as interesting as before. Thus, find a way to make the antagonist survive a smartly planned, well executed and highly anticipated onslaught or take-down.
Know When to Give the Protagonist a Break
Timing is very important here, because continued struggle between a protagonist and antagonist can make your story very predictable and boring. It reaches a point when the protagonist should focus their energy elsewhere. A drastic way to give the protagonist a break is making them work with the antagonist. You can start by portraying the antagonist as victim of circumstances or having the same enemies as the protagonists, as the plot thickens. This way, they have to work together to fight a common enemy for mutual benefits. You can pull this off at that point when your audience can’t stand the antagonist anymore and want him punished or killed.
An interesting antagonist will confirm the value on your book cover design and superior paperback formatting.