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Character is the driver. Plot is the getaway car. Character drives plot; plot does not drive character. The antagonist isn’t just here as a rock in the stream diverting the plot-churned waters — he does not exist in service to a sequence of events but rather, he exists to change them, sway them, turn them to a sequence he wants — a sequence that stands in opposition to the protagonist. For opposition is key.
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Jeez, weren’t you paying attention? EYES ON ME, SOLDIER. Anyway. The antagonist opposes the protagonist. Theirs are clashing motivations. They possess needs and wants that exist in defiance of one another. The protagonist wants to free the slaves; the antagonist wants to keep them and the power they provide. The protagonist wants to rescue the hostages; the antagonist wants to keep the hostages, or worse, kill ’em. The protagonist wants a chalupa; the antagonist has stolen ALL THE CHALUPAS. The antagonist can oppose the main character directly, seeking to undo her efforts; or the antagonist can oppose her indirectly, coming at the story at an oblique angle (but still clashing with our protagonist character). But the point is the same no matter how you slice it: the antagonist stands in the way of the protagonist’s goals.
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Let the antagonist win. Maybe not at the end, but periodically, throughout. Let him break Batman’s back, or kill a hostage, or take all the toilet paper off the roll and *crash of thunder* fail to replace it.
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If you ignore everything else I wrote here (and for all I know, you will, you sonofabitch) then at least absorb this with your squirming storytelling cilia: the biggest and best test of an antagonist is that I want to a) love to hate them and/or b) hate to love them. Do either or both and it’s a major win. If you make me love them and I feel uncomfortable about that? You win. If you make me despise them and I love despising them the way a dog loves to roll around in roadkill? You win again. I hate that I love Hans Gruber. I love that I hate every Nazi in every Indiana Jones movie. For fuck’s sake, make me feel something.