Thursday's Thots: Laa Dee Frickin Daa

So it's Thursday, once again, which brings about some writing thoughts that I've stumbled across over the past week.

  1. Heard recently that my MC (main character) is only as strong as his nemesis. I like that thought. If you think about it, the hero's that we all know and love all face very strong or dangerous villains. Harry Potter had Lord Voldemort. Luke Skywalker had Darth Vader. Batman has the Joker. The list goes on and on. Odds are whoever you view as your favorite hero also has your favorite nemesis in the same story. You need that level of danger and evil if you want your hero to rise to his level of greatness.

    So with that thought, we as writers need to spend as much, if not more time on developing our antagonists as we do our protagonists. Not just name them and call them evil, develop them. Know their back story, why are they evil? What do they want to accomplish? What are their human qualities? In what ways are they relatable? In what ways are they over the top? Are the pure evil, (not as likely and believable), or do they have some good qualities that are overshadowed and dominated by an evil desire that drives all their actions? Are they redeemable? Beyond redemption? You have to know your nemesis even better than you know your hero. Your hero will have his story told, but your nemesis probably won't, at least not as well and developed as your hero.. so you need to know their motivations more because you may not be able to develop them through conflict like your MC.

    Just about the only story I've read recently that I really enjoyed that didn't have a true outstanding nemesis was The Hunger Games.. and really there the antagonist was the oppression of the people, the elitist Capitol City, and the corrupt government as much as it was President Snow.  And beyond that, the protagonist in the Hunger games is almost an Anti-Hero(ine) anyway.
  2. Motivation. Sometimes it's lacking. That's when we all need our own internal Matt Foley, otherwise we may find ourselves eating a steady diet of Government cheese and living in a van down by the river.

        Matt Foley:  Now young man, what do you want to do with your life?
        Brian:  Actually Matt, I kinda want to be a writer.
        Matt Foley:  Well la-dee fricking daa.. we got ourselves a writer here
                               Hey Dad, I can't see real good, is that Bill Shakespear
                               over there?
        Father:  Well actually Matt, Ellen and I have encouraged Brian in
                       his writing.
        Matt Foley:   Dad I wish you could just shut your big YAPPER!

    So, excluding having Matt Foley shack up with you for a while, how do you keep yourself motivated? When it's late on Monday night and you've had a day to forget, how do you shut your big YAPPER and pound the keys for a couple of hours?


  1. I don't think what you share here about an antagonist can be emphasized enough. Though I think a lot of the strength of the hero comes from a different source than that of the antagonist. Luke vs the Emperor, Luke's strength came from his faith in his father. He believed because he had once been touched by the light that it made enough of an impression that he still had good within him. Harry Potter was never the match of Voldemort, instead he refused to give into the darkness that surrounded him. It made him a not only a force, but a symbol for good in his world that rivaled Voldemort. I don't think the good guys are ever as powerful in the classical sense of power as the bad guy, but they have something unique which evens the playing field. Just a few thoughts!

    1. Jayrod, I posted a reply that somehow never made it onto the board so I'll rephrase what I wrote previously. I like what you said here about the good guys never being as powerful as the bad guys.. the Hero's Journey teaches us the weak-to-powerful arc, and I think there's a lot to be said for that, but the end result powerful isn't usually total power.. but an all new level of power that's never been achieved previously. I was watching the Avatar cartoons, (not the hideous live-action Last Air Bender movie).. and was thinking about how the character there, Ang, is powerful.. but he's constantly beaten and doubts his ability until the final fight where he finally realizes his power. I think that lack of confidence, but the courage to accept the challenge despite the lack of confidence is crucial in stories like these. Courage is not found in fighting when you expect to win, but in facing your fears when winning is not expected. I think that's what changes a character from mere participant in a story to 'hero', a showing of courage despite likely defeat. We have to bloody our hero's up, and make them fail and fail again.. only to rise ultimately to win because of what they've learned due to their failures. If Luke had defeated Darth Vader in their first fight.. the story is done.

  2. Great post. I went ahead and tagged you in that 11 questions meme, just so I could like your blog to mine. I do try to have well-rounded villains in my stories. In fact, I have a back story for even the most minor character on the page.

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. sorry, I didn't see that you already have been tagged.

  5. Hi! I'm a new follower from the campaign. Nice to meet you!

    1. Hi Margo.. I follwed you back. I think I got the better of the deal, great site you've got. :)


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