calling all antagonists...

I admit it. I have a problem.

I have a very large weakness for villains. Very large as in probably the size of Texas. Or Alaska. Or Russia. Probably Russia.

Russia says hi.

Anyways...I have recently run into a conundrum. My sprawling mess that I have so lovingly entitled the great ones and the general has no tangible villain. No Loki, no Sauron, no Emperor Zurg...and that frustrates me. Because I love writing villains. Case in point: my last big WIP Seeker, which had a whopping 3 villains. I was in heaven (not to mention I was kinda in love with Elias, my big bad guy who really wanted to be good but understand why. Yeah. It was kind of a big deal.) In my NaNoWriMo project from 2012 The Girl Who Time Forgot, my villain was in disguise and it was confusing but really fun to write and writing Sander really stretched my mind.

But in the great ones...there is no obvious (at least to me) villain.

 I always feel so squirmy putting "man versus himself" as the conflict. It's such a broad phrase. What is it about himself that this person is fighting? Or is he even fighting? Is it more of a struggle, a hit and run, or is there no resistance at all? Is he a person who struggles with a vice or a sin that keeps reoccurring in his life? Or is it a fault of his that he's dealing with? There are too many villainous options when it comes to "man versus himself."

I'm a person who likes to have a definite villain (if that isn't obvious yet). So the great ones and I have been wrestling with this. And so I have come to this decision.

The antagonist of the great ones and the general is life in general.

All three of my main-ish characters (Sam and Colt don't count as main characters technically--Colt especially--but I've grown to love them too much to neglect them of this) have their own faults and struggles. They all grow and change over the course of the story--at least, I hope they do.

Matt doesn't want to live a life without his brother.

Sam is looking for an escape.

And all Colt wants is for things to go back to the way they were.

Life itself keeping these things from them. All the bumps and curves, the rainbows and the thunderclouds...all these things keep my three lovelies away from reaching what they want. Can they beat life's designs?

Pssh. Only a stupid person would try that.

Oh wait...

Maybe...just maybe, their goals change. Maybe they grow a little. Maybe, instead of being the villain, life becomes more of an ally.

I don't know what to call this type of conflict. It feels like a mix between "man versus the world" and "man versus God." Maybe I'll just stick to calling it "man versus life." It's simpler that way.

Do you ever struggle with too few (or too many!) villains? Do you stick to the man versus conflict formula or do you have other techniques? I'd love to hear about them!

Happy Thursday, everybody!!


  1. Right now I have two(ish) villains, who are working together but both trying to outsmart each other. I love writing villains! But I think that all stories contain "man versus himself" because often what holds your character back/changes things for the worse is indeed their own flaws, failings and inhibitions, as well as the "actual" villain.

  2. I love a good...Good, *Snort*...villain. I have heard of doing the villain like you are, a life conflict and it is the characters who are the villains to themselves. That almost seems harder then doing a living, breathing villain, but when it is pulled off I really like it. And it sounds like you have great schemes to pull it off. Just reading the ideas you have made it sound believable and made me really want to read the book, even more then before.


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