On Writing Antagonists by Lindsay Downs
I’m sure we all love writing that dashingly handsome hero and the beauty who wins his heart. I know I do. But, where would they be, much less meet and fall in love, without an antagonist…
They can be tall, short, fat, or thin. Even have fetid breath and poor hygiene. The antagonist, villain, bad guy (whatever you want to call them) doesn’t have to be male. Women make great ones as well.
The antagonist can be a peer, such as an earl and countess along with their son, Smedley as in Married by Christmas (TouchPoint Romance). They were so cruel they abandoned the second son, Justin who was raised by a duke and duchess. Justin later inherits the earldom after his parents and brother dance the hangman’s gig.
Another example of a father being the antagonist is in La Contessa and The Marquis (TouchPoint Romance). In this, the first in the Rogues and Rakehells Mystery series, the Barone Givonni Nardo had run short of funds and arranged for the murder of La Contessa de Massa’s husband. As she inherited not only money but lands the barone had tried to force her into a marriage then have her committed with the barone controlling the funds.
Without a doubt my most favorite antagonist to write is Lord Ethan Rosewood. He’s the older brother to Lady Kristina Markson who believes it’s his duty to oversee her, even after she marries Lord Robert. Now, don’t get me wrong he’s not a villain in the true sense of the word but works for the Crown and only at the end of The Guilty Countess does he make this known to Robert and Kristina. What makes Ethan so much fun to write, he has facts available thusly proving the countess innocent of the crime she’s accused of. To this end he’s banned, by his married sister, from ever darkening the doorway of the Markson townhouse and estate.
He makes his next appearance in Highland Gold. Again with valuable information which he refuses to share.
“That’s because I instructed them not to say a thing but let you find out the problems on your own,” Lord Ethan Rosewood announced.
Kristina watched as he stepped into the room.
“What are you doing here?” she demanded.
She could feel her face heat from anger at her older brother for interjecting himself where not wanted. She knew, without looking down, her hands had fisted and she started to stand but a gentle touch halted her. Turning to Robert, she saw the same emotion in his eyes that she was feeling. Her only question, should it be dealt with man to man or should she say something. As silence continued, she knew it was she who had to deal with Ethan.
“Hamish, I am your Mistress. You are to get footmen and bring them here then remove this thing from our sight. I don’t care if he’s locked away in the deepest, darkest, dampest cell or where. All I and Lord Markson desire is he to be gone from our presence post haste,” she ordered.
“You can’t do that as I’m here on orders from the Crown,” Ethan answered back.
“I don’t care under whose authority you are operating you’ve no right to give instructions to my staff. Do I make myself clear?” she screamed at Ethan.
“My power exceeds your wants and desires, dear sister,” he replied back.
Angered not only at his words but the cocky way he was grinning at her, Kristina bolted up and started to charge on him when a hand gripped her firmly around the waist.
“Let me deal with him then you can have what’s left for I completely agree with you,” Robert whispered in her ear before releasing her.
“No, he’s my brother and I’m tired of him meddling in things which aren’t his concern,” she answered back in the same low tone.
“As you wish, my dear, for I shan’t deny you the pleasure.”
Ethan, much to her annoyance, was still standing with a smug expression on his face and arms folded across his chest. Kristina looked up to her husband and nodded. Bearing down on Ethan, she glared up at him then with her open hand slapped him across the face, sending him staggering backward a few steps.
END SPOILER ALERT
As you can see there is very little love between sister and brother.
In this book and The Guilty Countess my self-publish editor wanted me to write more of Ethan into the books. When I explained my reasons for having him presented as I did, she understood.
However, in Book 4, Brotherly Love! Ethan turns to Robert and Kristina to prove his innocence in murdering the son of a very powerful duke.
In The Duke’s Bride (TouchPoint Romance) releasing in April finding who the antagonist is proves difficult. To find this person or persons Simon, The Duke of Kettering, along with Lady Emma, the heroine, and the duchess must search through endless correspondences in the hope of finding the late duke’s murderer. It’s not until Emma’s mother arrives for a visit do they learn not only the names but the how and why these people wanted the late duke and Simon dead.
As you can see writing antagonists are fun for me to pen. Sometime when writing the book I have no idea who they will be until it’s time for the reveal. Other times I know who is the villain from the very beginning and so does the reader. Then, I have to decide how much information to pass along and when. On more than one occasion I’ve had readers come right and tell me they jumped to the end of the book to find out who the killer was. When I hear that I know I’m doing my job of keeping you on the edge of your seat.
I’ve been an avid reader ever since I was old enough to hold a red leather bound first edition copy of Sir Walter Scott’s The Lady of the Lake in my lap.
So it only seemed natural at some point in my life I take up pen and paper to start writing. Over time my skills slightly improved which I attribute to my English teachers.
My breakthrough came about in the mid 1970’s when I read a historical romance written by Sergeanne Golon, Angelique. This French husband and wife team opened my eyes to the real world of fiction. Stories about romance, beautiful damsels, handsome heroes and plots which kept me hooked. Of course, being a man, I had to keep my reading hidden from others as that wasn’t appropriate reading for men.
With this new found appreciation of the written word I took up other books and devoured them as a starving person would a plate of food. I them attempted to write again. I still wasn’t satisfied so I put it aside for years as other events entered my life.
Finally, in the early years of the new millennium I tried again to write and once again met with limited success. At least now I was able to get past the first page or two. Then, in 2006 a life changing event brought me back to my love, I took a job as a security officer. This allowed me plenty of time to read different genres.
My favourite was regency. As I poured through everyone I could get my hands on I knew this could be something I wanted to attempt.
Since 2012 when my debut regency romantic suspense released I was hooked and have, except for a few contemporaries, focused on this genre.
Since 2012 I’ve lived in central Texas. I’m also a member of Romance Writers of America and their local chapter.
Where you can find me-