A question for my fiction writing friends

I have a project that just isn’t going well. I think I have figured out why, and I feel stupid for not realizing this already. It was reading blogs about writing that made me realize it, and truly, I feel dumb.

I have a long, complex story I am working on. 5 main characters who have a history but are spread out over a geographical region the size of Texas on the eve of a catastrophic war. Things develop from there.

Here is what I just realized. Even though I have them all fleshed out, understand how they live and what makes them tick and where their loyalties lie I forgot one thing.

No personal antagonist(s) to depict on the page as a real character. (I know, I know. Dumb.) There are organizations with conflicting interests involved, but organizations are not proper antagonists in the way I am talking about.

So, the question. How do you develop antagonists and conflict in general. Are there any tips or resources from successful writers that you like?

I can’t decide whether to make some of the characters I already have antagonists somehow, or make a new one up out of whole cloth. Just not sure. Conflict has to start in the first chapter, though. It has to be real and personal conflict. That is why it refuses to flow. Not enough conflict.

Anything at all would be helpful and appreciated.

About Gene'O

Compulsive writer, amateur photographer, and blogaholic. Also an evil genius.

3 thoughts on “A question for my fiction writing friends

  1. Do your five main characters have families/friends/acquaintances? Maybe amongst them, you could find a (so far) secondary character who could become an antagonist. Thus, you wouldn’t have to create one from scratch, and instead develop one from the tapestry of interactions you already have in mind/notes.


    • Gene'O says:

      yes. Two are cousins and part of a large extended family, and two others are siblings without much other family. I am wondering if I should set some of them against one another somehow, like in the first 10 or so pages.


  2. I don’t think antagonists as individuals are always necessary, as long as there is a consistent antagonising influence. Organisations, especially government ones, can often be the most effective because they’re so deep rooted and will keep springing up in your path. If you can’t find one character, could you find them a collective obstacle instead? One thing that unites them all in opposition, even if it only turns out later on that they are all united in that.


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