Developing Your Antagonist

It is often said that a good story depends on how good the antagonist is. A protagonist can be someone that people project their own feelings on. An antagonist, however, is the measure of the protagonist, like a test or comparison. It is the interaction with the antagonist and how the protagonist deals with this entity that creates the tension in the story.


  • List 3 antagonists that didn’t work for you. List their qualities, goals, personalities. What made them sympathetic and what made them unsympathetic? Why did they not work for you? Remember, “not work” does not mean you didn’t like them—in general antagonists may be unlikable. How did these antagonists fail the story? List what these unsatisfying antagonists have in common.
  • Think of historical figures you consider antagonists. What makes them antagonists? Do they represent a group?
  • You may have learned some life lessons through something you’ve endured and want to share those with others.

Remember, you can spend a lot of time with the antagonist. If he, she, or it is impalpable or does not have some interesting characteristics, it may be hard to spend that time, both in writing and reading about the character.

These creative exercises came from the course Creative Writing 101


  • How to develop a more vibrant protagonist
  • How to set a goal for your protagonist
  • How to define the protagonist’s problem
  • How to define who is the antagonist
  • How to create obstacles
  • How to define what your story is really about
  • How to choose a point of view
  • How to write good dialogue
  • How to be more visual
  • How to create the hook and the ending
  • How to determine the best order to tell your story
  • How to find the discipline to keep writing

Learn More About our Creative Writing 101 Workshop!

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