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Journal Writing

Setting Up Your Antagonist

As I mentioned in the previous post, I believe that the seeds for all supporting characters should be planted in the first act. Call it foreshadowing, call it whatever you like, but when that character appears it has to feel both organic and inevitable. The same applies to setting up your antagonist.

For Cold Sunset — I may as well start using the working title, with the caveat that I’m not married to it — my antagonist isn’t a person but an abstract concept. For my main character, it’s an oppressive culture that she can’t escape from. I have two characters that embody the concept, that act as sort of proxy antagonists. The first is her father, and the second is her ex-boyfriend.

Because I’m also using the form of Gothic fiction, I’ve made both of them figurative ghosts. They don’t appear in the story as active antagonists. They’re in her head. She’s conditioned to respond to what they’d say, what they’d think, if they were there. She’s haunted by them, and they affect her decisions.

Setting Up Your Antagonist

My inciting incident, which we’ll get to shortly, happens because the main character is seeking to start her life over in a new place. The reason she’s doing that is to get away from these men who have severely messed her up. Without having either of them appear, or explaining, my opening act implies that things happened in the past. This implies the existence of the antagonist, and teases who and what they might be.

Progress Report: Day 9

  • Today is day 9 of 90 on my journey to write the first draft of a novel.
  • Over the weekend I wrote 2,201 words, bringing the total to 7,457.
  • That puts me 2,657 words ahead of my target goal, based on writing 600 words per day.
  • I’m currently working on the “inciting incident” scene of the first act, and getting ready to move into some theme reinforcement scenes.

Notes

  • I have now used up 10% of the days allotted to the first draft. Yikes!
  • Seth Godin argues that the difference between short-form and long-form is one of an endorphin rush versus the communication of complex ideas. This has haunted me since I read his blog post last week. It’s not just the concept that “people don’t read” (books or blogs), is the placement of emotions over facts and ideas.

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