Firstly, please accept my apologies for the delay in publishing this post. Since I was going to be very busy during the past two-three weeks, I thought I had this scheduled with WordPress for automatic posting. Apparently a glitch occurred, and the post never appeared.
All I can say is … OOPS.
When it comes to generating direct opposition for your story’s protagonist, the source of that conflict will come from an antagonist.
I use the antagonist label for characters who stand between the protagonist and his goal, who actively oppose and seek to thwart the protagonist, but who are not necessarily wicked or evil.
I view an antagonist as someone who has strong, justifiable motivation for opposing the protagonist and is willing to work hard to see the protagonist defeated.
Now, in my previous post, I flunked Wilbur Writer and got rid of him. So now, Antonia Author comes forth with her premise:
Perry Protagonist is an ambitious, hardworking, idealistic attorney in his first job for the local prosecutor’s office. He’s assigned a case where he must prosecute a man for murder. He’s examined the evidence and talked to the police investigators. He believes the defendant is guilty.
Perry’s up against an astute, cagey, experienced defense attorney named Daniel Defender. Daniel believes his client is innocent of the charges although he knows circumstantial evidence points to guilt.
Both lawyers have strong motivations for winning the case. The trial is taking place in a state that will execute the defendant if he’s found guilty. So a man’s life is at stake. Perry will do all he can to bring the defendant to justice in hopes of giving the murder victim’s family closure and a measure of peace. Daniel will use every trick and strategy he’s got to save his defendant from a wrong conviction and death.
Perry and Daniel may dislike each other. They may hate each other. Or they may respect each other professionally and belong to the same church and community organizations. But when they’re in court, they are in conflict and they are antagonists. It’s a win or lose situation, and neither man intends to be defeated.
This kind of direct, strongly motivated conflict will keep readers turning pages. Daniel may remain an ethical, determined individual or he may become a villain, depending on his choices and actions in the story. Either way, he will bring conflict to the story, scene after scene.