Antagonist and Character Traits

An antagonist is a character in a story who opposes the protagonist. They often have traits that directly differ from the protagonists and can be used to create tension and conflict in a story.

In tackling character development, the process is similar in all characters, positive or negative.


Antagonists can be human or non-human, such as animals, forces of nature, or even ideas. They are often portrayed as being selfish, power-hungry, or otherwise villainous. Writers need to create well-rounded antagonists with motivations and goals that readers can understand and relate to, as this helps make stories more interesting and engaging. The antagonist can start out seeming harmless, then revert to a truer nature, as can the protagonist. Take some risks, and mix it up. Readers like to be kept on their toes.

Some great questions for developing your protagonist/antagonist are:

  • What kind of character do you like to write, and why?

I enjoy multi-faceted and impulsive characters, no matter their role in the storyline. I keep the tension high by surprising the reader with action without creating a conflict with the character’s base traits, which is always fun. The reader should continue the journey without giving up on the story in disgust, as long as there is a reason for the action that is ultimately revealed. I also tend to eliminate popular characters, whether pro or antagonistic, as long as I feel I have developed them enough to get the reader to a point of caring what happens to them.

  • What techniques do you use to create compelling and believable villains?

There are several techniques that writers can use when developing an antagonist, such as giving them unique motivations, creating obstacles for them to overcome, and providing them with unique traits and abilities.

Characters will often be the driving force behind a story and can make or break it. To create an interesting character, you must first understand how to develop them. This includes understanding their backstory, motivations, and relationships with other characters. With this knowledge, you can craft a compelling character that readers will relate to and invest in.

  • Describe the idea of creating a three-dimensional character.

By developing characters with depth, you can create an engaging story that will captivate readers and keep them invested in the plot. While creating a three-dimensional character may seem daunting, several techniques are available to help writers craft believable characters with distinct personalities and motivations.

One popular technique is to create an antagonist or protagonist first, then develop the opposite. This will help the writer better understand both characters’ motivations and desires and give them conflict to work with to create tension within the story.

  • What are some of the common mistakes writers make when developing characters?

Common mistakes include making them one-dimensional or cliche, failing to give them a backstory or motivations, or making them too similar. It’s also important to ensure that actions are consistent throughout the story and have a clear goal. Otherwise, readers may find it hard to relate to them or understand why they are doing what they do.

Also, eliminate a character that doesn’t have any reason to be in the story. Just because you have a character fleshed out and ready for action doesn’t mean they belong in a storyline. Use them in another piece of work, but don’t give in to the vanity of displaying them because you think they’re awesome.

How to develop an antagonist

  • What kind of research do you draw from to create realistic antagonists?

You can consider real people you have met, worked for, or with, or more personal relationships. Combining several different people’s characteristics can create a whole new persona. Had a boss who lacked empathy, a passive-aggressive partner? Ever been betrayed by a friend? Use those experiences to flesh out a character who becomes a living, breathing person to which a reader can relate. Everyone has common life experiences that can allow them to project those feelings onto your character, making your fictional person all that more loved or disliked.

For an in-depth reference in character development, check out The Best Character Template Ever by Doug Landsborough.

In the end, the story carries the characters, and vice-versa. Every aspect of the story needs to support each other. Creating world readers can move into as they read means supplying it with believable, coherent characters.

Author: morgan77young

I write fiction and article content. Living in the PNW, dreaming of the Sierras.

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