Posted by: Kathy Temean | April 14, 2015

Antagonists with Writing Exercise

newadultI have started writing a new adult book, so of course I looked to a book I could read to get helpful information. I found WRITING NEW ADULT FICTION by Deborah Halverson and in the book she talks about antagonists and I thought I would share that with you.

Here’s Deborah:

Antagonists come in many flavors. They can be total bad guys, intent on hurting the protagonist, such as the ex-boyfriend who stalks her. Still, they can have depth to make them believable and even as sympathetic as your protagonist. Understand why they are doing what they’re doing so that you can write the richest scenes possible.

Antagonists sometimes look like good guys… and in fact some really are good guys. They’re just making life difficult for the protagonist – they are antagonizing in the truest sense of the word. Maybe it’s an outright friend or a trusted loved one who is simply trying to help to do something right in the world even as they misjudge and hurt the protagonist. Maybe the antagonist is a frenemy. We tend to think of this term as the way to talk about those high schoolers who act like your friends but stab you in the back. The frenemy relationship plays out that way in new adulthood, too, as everyone jockeys for opportunities. And to a certain degree, many of them in the early stages of new adulthood may not have worked  out how the relationship games have changed yet and still do the friend-to-your-face-knife-in-the back thing. Plenty of people keep this up into adulthood, after all.

Here is a writing exercise that might help:

Goal: To force you to think beyond the bad in your antagonist and consider the good in him, as well as the hurt that contributed to his antagonism. If you have understanding and empathy for your antagonist, you can write an intriguingly deep person who behaves badly but who has or had decency about him at some point.

1. Take a minute to write ten mean things your antagonist did to other people during grade school/childhood. This is very much a brainstorming exercise, forcing you to blurt what you know down deep rather than run things through an editorial filter.

2. Now take a minute writing ten nice things you antagonist did for other people during grade school/childhood.

3. Now spend a minute writing ten ways other people hurt your antagonist during grade school/childhood.

To read more about Deborah, check out here site. Here’s the link:

Talk tomorrow,



  1. Kathy, so glad you shared Deborah’s thoughts about antagonists. It’s important to remember they have good qualities too. And the writing exercise is a great one. 🙂


  2. I have this book and I am really looking forward to reading it…if I could only find an extra few minutes a day right now. :}


  3. I love stuff like this. Thanks, Kathy! 😀


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