Monday, November 17, 2014

Writing Basics – Plotting II – Getting Down and Dirty with My Antag

This weekend I put aside some time to start into Book 2 of THE MESSENGERS. Autumn (one of my characters) has been pestering me about continuing with the series, especially since she has a little more page-time in this book. After a few words – oh maybe 20 of them – I recognized that I was going nowhere fast. Generally on good writing days I can knock out 1000-3000 words.  And sometimes I’ll run out of time for the day, but will put in another set the next day, and the next until 15,000 words are in the computer smiling back at me.

But I was looking at 20, and they weren’t smiling. They were laughing. They did that low rumble in the stomach to a full shrill burst-over-the-top pointing at you gut buster. So I did what I always do – Take a walk.

Walking frees my mind and helps me to unwind. Unfortunately it was 50 degrees outside, fortunately it wasn’t the 40 degrees that the weather people said it would be a few days prior. As I was going along, it dawned on me. My Antag was staring at me with one eye brow raised in the air and a palm turned up. “What’s my motivation?” My Antag asked. That’s why I was stuck. ( Read about the importance of Antag’s here.)

Now came the hard part, the reasoning of the bad behavior. Was the Antag mistreated? Unloved? Too loved? Did they run into problems early in life? Will their feelings be a surprise maybe even to them? Why do they hate? And hate so much to hurt another human being or system? (Remember you can hate and go into a shell – like many Red Herrings do.)

After three miles, I understood the motivation. Basically what I came up with was that … Hold on, I’m not telling. You have to wait for the book. :-)  I made it home and turned on my computer. It was time to do more homework – yes  more homework. I spent the rest of the day looking up everything from pictures of actors to fashion styles to weapons. I need to know what my Antag looks like, and how they plan to do their deed. Once I was satisfied, I went to watch the Indianapolis Colts lose to New England Patriots. Yes I watch football, and yes I wanted the Colts to win.

I took a break to let my brain breathe and let my subconscious create the character. I need for my Antag to talk to me in a voice just as strong as the Protag. In fact, I prefer that it’s stronger. Once that process is complete, I can rework any problems in the master plan to destroy/takeover. While I’m doing this, I try not to consider my Protag much at all. It doesn’t matter what they can and cannot do. What matters is what makes since for the Antag.  Once that’s done, we call in a mediator for the Antag and Protag to work through any issues and finalize the plotting of the Antag’s scheme.
So let’s use Felicia’s Antag from the last blog post – Mr. Furrytails.

Mr. Furrytails is a simple guy. He wants power and money. He’s currently working on a deal to remove two groups of werewolves from the city. He believes that if he can get rid of them, it’ll open up more commerce for his team to control. But to make this power move is risky and could cost him his life. But if it works, He’ll control all of the assets from Atlanta to Savannah to Williamsburg to Jacksonville. Basically all of the major trade in Georgia and the Carolinas.

When he finds out about Felicia, he doesn’t want much. He just wants her to come and pledge her allegiance to him. She’ll now be one of the many “controllable” powers in his territory. But Felicia’s mom gets in the way and that is a problem. The last thing he needs is anyone throwing off the balance of power or worse tipping off the heads of the Were-Families he’s working against.
So how does this show up in your book?

We know Furrytails attitude.
We know where he’s going to be and what he’s trying to do.
We know how many henchmen he’ll need to do the work.
We know his contacts.
We know his strengths – in resources and otherwise.
We know enough about him for his to affect our Protag.

Now that I know where my Antag will be and what they will be doing. I know how they affect the Protag(s). This movement of the Antag forces the hand of the Protag which creates story.  Hope this helps someone. Thanks a bunch for reading.


  1. Enjoyed your series. My first draft will soon be ready for my beta, and I'm taking it all in.

  2. Thanks for reading. I wish you well. I'd encourage you to use your beta's wisely. I went through several "sets."