6 April 2012, Development - Implied Antagonist
Introduction: I realized that I need to introduce this blog a little. I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. The working title was Daemon, and this was my 21st novel. Over the last year, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel.
I'm using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I'll keep you informed along the way.
Today's Blog: To see the steps in the publication process, visit my writing website http://www.ldalford.com/ and select "production schedule," you will be sent to http://www.sisteroflight.com/.
The steps in making and using a character in a novel are as follows:
1. Development of the character (history, description, personality, etc.)
2. Revelation of the character (within the novel, show don't tell)
a. Description of the character - introduction
b. Voice of the character
c. Continuing revelation by showing
In a classical plot (and in most of my novels) you have a protagonist, an antagonist, and a protagonist's helper. If you develop these three characters for a novel, the plot will naturally fall out of the development of the characters.
An implied antagonist is a kind of a new idea in literature. I'm certain you can find examples of an implied antagonist in literature past, but in most classical literature, the writers are classically trained--they know about the basics (and the advanced concepts) of writing. So you find Milton always has an immediate antagonist. Shakespeare always has an immediate antagonist. In face, these authors wouldn't really understand the idea of a distant or an implied antagonist. They would think the idea absurd. They also think a major work needs to rhyme, so two for three.
Before you conclude that an understanding of classical literary form isn't for you--learn all the basics and the basic rules. Then break some of them here and there. I already went through all the different ways you can arrange a novel in my "Zen of Scenes" blog at http://www.novelscene.wordpress.com/. I concluded that there are neat alternative forms, but the classical form is the way to go. I think you will find this to be true for you too. If you do design a new novel form, I'd like to know about it.
Now, back to antagonists. The implied antagonist is an antagonist that isn't necessarily flesh and blood. God or Satan can act as an implied antagonist--likewise, a corporation or a government, a organization or a political body. An implied antagonist is an antagonist that acts against the protagonist simply by existing. A great example is in George Orwell's 1984, the antagonist could have simply been the government. George Orwell decided not to write the novel this way, but it could have been. Compare this to Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. In some of the stories, the planet Mars is the antagonist--an obvious implied antagonist. The way Bradbury writes, he actually gives a degree of malevolence to the planet, so we see an implied antagonist doesn't need to be emotionless or thoughtlessly acting against the protagonist. In Logan's Run, the antagonist is the system. The protagonist and the protagonist's helper fight against the souless system and defeat it.
Notice all the examples I gave are science fiction. Also, Milton's Paradise Lost is an example of a fantasy. Science fiction (and fantasy to a degree) lends itself to an implied antagonist. 2001 appears to have an implied antagonist until we discover HAL is behind it all, but that's a strange novel and stranger movie. I think Kubrick and Clark intended to make 2001 an implied antagonist (and may still mean for HAL to be a stand in for humanity's unwillingness to evolve). Note, Milton made Lucifer an immediate antagonist, but he didn't have to--he could have written Paradise Lost with an implied antagonist (but that would have been sacrilegious).
Aksinya was intentionally written with an immediate antagonist (the demon) who acts in place of an implied antagonist. I wrote about this before. The point and theme of Aksinya is to show that everyone has their own demons, just everyone can't see them like Aksinya can. I wrote the novel to be very personal and very classical. I wanted my readers to smell the scent of sulfur and taste the heat of hell every time Asmodeus was present. I wanted them to contemplate their own demons while watching Aksinya's personal demon destroy her. Such is the power of literature.
I'll write about classical forms in literature, and I'll write more about characters and plot tomorrow.
I'll repeat my published novel websites so you can see more examples: http://www.ldalford.com/, and the individual novel websites: http://www.aegyptnovel.com/, http://www.centurionnovel.com/, http://www.thesecondmission.com/, http://www.theendofhonor.com/, http://www.thefoxshonor.com/, and http://www.aseasonofhonor.com/.