Reminders that antagonists have their own stories plus some gratitude
The traits of a villain, the traits of an antagonist
I have writer friends who believe the universe will align with their desires, that they manifest their success. I’m not any good at manifesting success for myself or any of my loved ones, but when small things come together to inspire me, I’m grateful. That happened this week as I tried to turn my villain into an unlikeable antagonist who has motivations the reader understands.
When I opened my copy of Driftwood at the River’s Edge, the latest Bamboo Dart Press chapbook, inside there was a watercolor and ink image by Dennis Callaci. Dennis is one of those people who sparks joy wherever he goes. He’s a writer, a musician, an artist, and kind. And his little gift stashed in my little book reminded me of why I can’t make my antagonist a villain.
Because all villains look the same.
Everyone has their own version of the story
I also got this reminder from Allison K Wiliams: I can make my villain an antagonist if she has her own version of the story. Williams is the author of Seven Drafts: Self-edit like a Pro from Blank Page to Book. She’s been posting a bit of inspiration for each day of NaNoWriMo and this was one.
My personalized NaNoWriMo
Although I’ve taken it seriously three times, I’ve never ‘won’ NaNoWriMo. The onset of the holidays has never been a good time for me to be a hyperproductive writer. Not even now when I no longer have 40 people over for holiday meals.
I decided this November I would do my own version of the challenge by revising a complete novel. I joined an accountability group that meets weekday mornings and that’s helped me to stay on pace to finish.
I loathe my antagonist
I’m working on several problems, but reenvisioning my book-banning antagonist has been the hardest. I think that’s because she’s the kind of person I’ve had run-ins with in real life. Sanctimonious, self-righteous, someone who messes with good-hearted people without remorse.
Thanks to good literary citizens!
So, in this Thanksgiving week, I’m grateful for all the wonderful, multi-talented writers who are superstar literary citizens. I’m grateful for small presses and the connections I’ve made through the local literary community. I’m grateful for writers with a bigger platform who reach out to help those emerging. So many kind people.
Some help for you
If you are finishing up a messy draft for NaNoWriMo and will be moving on to revision, try Williams’ suggestions. I wrote a review of Seven Drafts for the Southern California News Group papers, “How to Turn Your November Draft into a Polished manuscript.” Check it out.
This week, I thought this was one of the really important things happening in library news and book banning/challenges.
America’s Censored Classrooms 2023 from PEN America