Sometimes Thinking is Work, and Antagonists

Northcoast Shakedown

My latest book cover design!

I don’t feel like I did a lot this week, but when I look back, I actually did. I knocked out my book cover goal quickly–on Sunday, in fact–to make sure it didn’t slip this week. My friend Jim Winter loved it, approved it, and is now in the process of updating his retail listings!

But what really doesn’t feel like I did much was the rest of the week. The plan was to continue working on my outline. I did get some more done on this, but my ideas seemed to stall out midway through the week. I guess this is what happens to non-plotting writers (aka “pantsers”) when they are writing the draft and hit the sagging middle. But I couldn’t figure out why it was happening to me, and why now. Then I read this blog post by Kristen Lamb on Friday, and it hit me. The post was appropriately called “The Single Largest Cause of Writer’s Block–Might Not Be What You Believe.”

So true! And it was exactly what she said: I hadn’t figured out my story’s antagonist. Oh, I had minions – secondary bad guys left over from the previous books in the series, but who was (to use Kristen’s term) the “Big Boss Troublemaker?” I had no idea. So I had to figure out who he or she is, what s/he is doing, and perhaps most importantly, why.

I’ve done a lot of sitting and thinking these past couple of days, and have figured out a lot. But I still have more work to do in that area, so on to the goals.

ROW80Logo175Last week’s goals went well:

  • Continue brainstorming/outlining for SS Book 3 – Not as much as I wanted, but I’ll count this as a yes!
  • Initial cover art for friend who’s going to beta read – yes!

For this week, I want to:

  • Do the Character Pre-plan Exercise from Holly Lisle’s How to Think Sideways workshop. This walks the writer through some basic questions and helps us to figure out who the character is, his/her goals, motivations, background, etc., and can be used for any major characters.
  • Work on outline–create 25 cards to add to my virtual bulletin board. It sounds easy, but I have a feeling it won’t be–or maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised!

So, let’s talk about antagonists, books, TV, movies, whatever. Probably the best bad guy I’ve read is the Del-a-Shar from Sheri McGathy’s epic fantasy Elfen Gold. He destroyed his entire race, yet when we find out why, he’s chillingly relateable and understandable! Antagonists need not be villains, but this one certainly is. Who are some of your favorites, villainous or not? Please share – I’d love to hear from you!

Jennette Marie Powell writes stories about ordinary people in ordinary places, who do extraordinary things and learn that those ordinary places are anything but. In her Saturn Society novels, unwilling time travelers do what they must to make things right... and change more than they expect. You can find her books at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, Kobo, iTunes, and more.