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Sunday, August 25

Sunday Writing Tip: Is Your Antagonist Plausibly Motivated?

By Janice Hardy, @Janice_Hardy

Each week, I’ll offer a tip you can take and apply to your WIP to help improve it. They’ll be easy to do and shouldn’t take long, so they’ll be tips you can do without taking up your Sunday. Though I do reserve the right to offer a good tip now and then that will take longer—but only because it would apply to the entire manuscript.

This week, look at your antagonist(s) and ensure he or she has solid and believable motivations for their role in the story.


In many ways, the antagonist is the one who causes a novel to happen. If they weren’t doing something wrong, the protagonist would have nothing to do and no reason to act.

But it’s not uncommon to find antagonists who are “being bad” just because the plot needs a bad guy. They have no true motivations to act, no personally driven goals, and a plan that doesn’t really extend past “do something evil the protagonist can thwart.”

Pretend the antagonist was the protagonist for a minute. Do they have reasons that are just as strong as the real protagonist? Or are they acting just to be bad?

For more on creating strong antagonists in your novel, try these articles:

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