Monday, December 19, 2005

Cranking Up the Conflict

As I've been working with the novel I'm writing, I've been enjoying telling the tale from the point of view of the antagonist as well as the protagonist. You may have heard that "every villain thinks he's a hero" and that your villain should be so complex and so well-developed that he could easily be the protagonist himself. I decided to take that one step further and actually give equal time to the antagonist. Now, he is a ruthless guy, but he's not evil. In fact, from a certain point of view (and it's a view he holds, of course), his actions really are altruistic and motivated to help those people that the protagonist and company say are being hurt by them. What I'm trying to do is get the audience believe both sides -- both contradictory sides -- of the issue at the same time. Its not easy to do, especially since I have decided that the antagonist is going to clearly be the antagonist. I'm handling it by making him an extremely charming and persuasive guy. Hopefully, the reader will fully understand how the protagonist could fall in love with him, even as she has to strive against him. In fact, their love for each other is real. The irony, the twist of the knife, is that they know there is a way they both can "win," a way in which they could both be happy. Unfortunately, in order for that to happen, the protagonist would have to turn her back on bringing about change for her people. Is it worth disrupting the status quo when all it can do is make you unhappy? Instead of adding one conflict after another (which is typical and a good way to handle plot), I'm trying to layer the main conflict deeper and deeper. In the end, she will have to choose between literally love and death (either hers or the antagonist's or both). I hope by that time, you won't envy the choice she has to make because you will really understand that both points of view are, to a certain extent, valid. It's a lot of fun knotting the rope!

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