Every Wednesday, I post a writing prompt here. You write about it, if it tickles your creativity bone, and then come share what you wrote on Facebook to get some feedback and see what the other Ninjas have come up with. My goal with these prompts will to be to make them something that can move your current work-in-progress forward.
How is Your Antagonist Vain?
Let’s think about our antagonists this week.
An antagonist can be a full on villain. Think Voldemort. Or more of a rival. Think Draco Malfoy.
Either way, your antagonist is working at odds to your protagonist–and think about this: they are the hero of their own story.
They’ve been broken, somehow, and as a result they are behaving in a way that is less than heroic as far as your protagonist is concerned.
So, let’s dig a little deeper into your antagonist. Making that character fuller, more well-rounded, will make your story better. Nothing is worse than a purely evil, one-dimensional villain.
Here’s what I want you to do: think about your antagonist’s main vanity. Write about it. How does that vanity affect their part in your story? How does your hero trigger that vanity? How does that vanity help your antagonist and how does it hurt them?
My work-in-progress is a Robin Hood retelling set in modern day Las Vegas. One of the main settings is a casino called the Nottingham, or the Nott, that is owned by my hero, Rob’s, father.
I have a couple of antagonists to choose from, but for this exercise I’m going to focus on Guy Gisborne. Guy is about ten years older than Rob. He’s the nephew of the co-owner of the Nott and was given his position far too early. He struggles to command respect at work, and really in any facet of his life. While Rob has been away at boarding school, Guy has become obsessed with Rob’s best friend Mattie, a girl he doesn’t stand a chance of winning over.
Guy’s vanity is his belief that he deserves more than what his lot in life has handed him. He has a generous uncle who raised him and has elevated his position–but it doesn’t feel real, because it isn’t. He didn’t earn his job. He doesn’t have anything that wasn’t given to him out of pity and charity. His vanity manifests itself in an almost pathological jealousy of Rob. It drives him crazy that Rob has a name that means something in Las Vegas. That Mattie loves Rob so easily makes Guy bitter and dangerous. Guy actually wants to be more than he is, on every level. He wants to deserve the things he wants in life. He wants to be the kind of man that Mattie could actually fall for without tricks. His vanity keeps him from being patient enough to get to where he might go in his life without resorting to being underhanded.
Where Rob’s driving force is a deep need to work hard to prove that he deserves to be loved, Guy’s is an opposing need to prove that he shouldn’t have to work hard for the same thing.
Are you writing a prompt this week? Leave a comment and let me know!
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