Every Protagonist has an antagonist: Every hero has a villain. It is easiest to see in an adventure story, where the Protagonist is the Hero and the Antagonist is the villain. In a love story the Protagonist and Antagonist are the two love interests and they can sometimes swap positions, sometimes more than once. Alternatively, the Antagonist can even be the Protagonist’s own conscience or moral ghosts.
Russell T Davies, who resurrected the Dr Who series, says that ‘Your hero is only as good as your villain.’
Antagonists don’t have to be evil or nasty, they just have to want the same thing(s) as the Protagonist, but choose to obtain them in a different way. The best Antagonists are also morally entwined with the Protagonist.
Remember your character interviews? Now is the time to revisit them so you can write or revise your Antagonist interview. Whatever your Protagonist loves your Antagonist hates; whatever your Protagonist hates your Antagonist loves; whatever your Protagonist values your Antagonist ...you get the idea. Even if they value the same things, they go about achieving them in opposite ways.
Only by confronting their weaknesses and moral values can your Protagonist change and grow – your Antagonist, whatever form it takes, is the tool you use to achieve this change for your Protagonist.
Don’t forget your supporting characters, they can also have secondary Antagonists or even be the secondary Antagonists.
Let me know how you get on and any good question or ideas you might like to share.