The Least You Should Know About Your Protagonist & Antagonist

The Least You Should Know About Your Protagonist And Antagonist


Writers Write is your one-stop writing resource. In this post, we write about the least you should know about your protagonist and antagonist.

If you know who your protagonist and antagonist are, and what they want, you will probably be able to tell a good story.

These are the two most important characters in your story. They define the story goal and control the plot. Your characters are the answer to most of your problems in storytelling.

For example, if you’re worried about the setting, consider your character. Does it suit them? If not, use it against them. If you’re worried about the plot, consider your character’s motivations. What they want will help you sort it out.

Characters are the bridges between plot points. They are the literary devices that allow you to tell your story. Read: The 4 Main Characters As Literary Devices 

The Least You Should Know About Your Protagonist & Antagonist

Answer these questions to help you plot your story.

1. Who are they?

  1. A great protagonist is one who wants something and sets out to get it. They make decisions and act and react. Must-Read: The Protagonist As A Literary Device
  2. A great antagonist provides resistance. They put up obstacles that prevent the protagonist from getting what they want. Must-Read: The Antagonist As A Literary Device

2. What function do they have in the story?

Their relationship causes the conflict that creates a plot. It is the most important literary device an author has to convey a story. Remember that your antagonist has to be as strong as, or stronger than, your hero. They should also be nuanced.

3. What do they want?

What is their story goal? It is best if you make this something physical. Example: They want to get $2 million

4. What do they need?

This is the emotional part of their story goal. Example: They need the money to save a person they love.

5. Who is stopping them?

This is the antagonist. Give reasons why the antagonist is motivated to stop the protagonist. And often they are made aware of their shortcomings, and are stopped by, their love interests.

6. What three things change them in the story?

List three things that change these characters in the story.

7. Are they powerful enough to make choices?

What gives them the power? Are they simply strong people, or do they have great support systems? Do they have a wonderful confidant? Think about what makes the two of them a match for each other.

8. Who are they at the end of the story?

Great books show us characters who have an arc. They both need to be changed in some way by the story. It doesn’t have to be a huge change, but readers like dynamic characters.

Suggested reading: How To Use Your Antagonist To Define Your Story Goal

Sometimes, we get lost in the mechanics of storytelling and we worry about the wrong things. If you feel like this is happening to you, I suggest you slow down and ask these questions.

If you can answer them, you will find a way to get from the beginning, through the muddle in the middle, to the end of your story.

Top Tip: If you want to learn how to write a book, sign up for our online course or join our course in Johannesburg.

© Amanda Patterson

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