on Writers Helping Writers:
There’s a dirty little secret among many of us readers: well-written antagonists get our blood pumping. When a scene come along with them in it, well, we lean closer. Grin a little more. Not because we’re a bunch of budding psychopaths and this is some alter-ego role play–okay, maybe a little–no, it’s that deep down, there’s something we like about them. Maybe even admire.
What now? you say. How is that possible? He (or she) is the baddie, after all!
Indeed. And we know it. But just like a protagonist, the antagonist can have something special about them too. It’s not a hollow quirk, catch-phrase, or great sense of style that draws us in. No, it’s something deeper, something attached to their identity or life experience. We see this part of them and relate to it because it reminds us of something we’ve seen or experienced in our own real-world journey.