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What would be a story be like without a villain? No irrational-thinking, self-minded person to give the good guy a tough time. No bad-ass,evil-thinking person to strengthen the plot of the story and its protagonist. Villains are willful, purposeful, focused and dedicated to their cause. They know they are the bad guys. They are not scared of their reputation neither do they back down.

A story, any story at all is bland without the presence of an antagonist, unless you are writing a blessed romance (but even fairy-tale romances like Cinderella had villains). Villains brings action to a story. They set the pace, and spur the protagonist to action or counter-action. Villains are the bad guys I will always like. They think and act. They are cunning. Some watch and wait for the perfect time to commit evil. Villains make you apprehensive and intrigued. What are they going to do next?

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A plot where the presence of an antagonist is not as strong as the protagonist, is weak. Every writer should understand that antagonists have equal rights in a story as the protagonists. Even if the good guy always wins at the end of the day.

Why every story needs an antagonist

  • An antagonist sets the pace. In Cinderella, it was the step mum’s refusal to let Cinderella go to the ball that triggered the appearance of her fairy god-mother. If the step mum had just been another good woman, Cinderella would have been just another girl that went to the ball.
  • Antagonists and their plots adds to the tension in the story. Knowing they are out there, and they scheming something adds more interest to a story. In The Pentecost by J.F. Penn, even though the story dwelt more on Morgan Sierra and Jake Timber trying to get the stones, we knew Joseph was waiting. And he was waiting for them.
  • Antagonists brings suspense to a story, and we know every story must have a suspense.
  • Most importantly, antagonists are doers. They don’t sit around waiting for something to happen. They make things happen. And most times, it is their actions that spur the protagonist to action too. This is very important to me because I’ve discovered that writers tend to leave major decisions to fate when it concerns the protagonists. These writers are scared to allow the protagonists make major decisions during the story’s climax on their own. So we can cheer fate if the outcome of the climax is good, or we grumble at fate if it is not favorable.

For example, in the Nollywood movie “Silent Scandal” after a tensed suspense, Genevieve and Majid couldn’t seem to come to any reasonable conclusion on how to solve their dilemma. Instead of making any of them the bad person, an accident conveniently provided the option (much to my horror because the movie ended badly afterwards.). If they were the antagonists of the movie, am sure the writer wouldn’t have any problem doing making them take the easy way out and damn the consequences.

Writers also tend to make the protagonist passive. I do agree that the antagonist pushes the protagonist to find his/her inner strength, but in some recent books I’ve read (and older ones too), it seems as if the protagonist is incapable of having a life until he is pushed into action by the antagonist.

A NOTE to writers. Randomly tossing a villain into a story will kill your story and doesn’t make for pleasurable reading. Every villain has a story and it must be heard. Like I said, the antagonist have equal rights with the protagonist.

My sister thinks am nuts when we are watching a movie and I start wishing the villain doesn’t get caught or die. I do love them. Without them every story would be passive with good people doing good things. In real life, the idea of only good people in the world doesn’t sound bad, but in a story, I want some action.

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