Summer Writing Club: The Antagonist

Welcome to Week 2 of the Summer Writing Club! We’ve read many great entries already, and the challenge is only a week old. Keep up the awesome work!

Last week we asked you to get to know your main characters. When writing a story, most of us focus our attention on the hero. Protagonists are usually brave, lovable, and intelligent. They may have weaknesses, but they are determined. They save the day.

Since most of us want to be the hero, we project our aspirations onto them. Look back at the character worksheet you filled out last week. Is your main character likable? Are the majority of his or her qualities good ones? Would you want to be friends with them? If the answer to these questions is “Yes,” then there’s a good chance your reader will like your protagonist, too.

It can be much harder to put yourself in the shoes of the villain, or, the antagonist. But you can’t have a hero without an antihero. I mean, how heroic can you be without overcoming obstacles? So this week it’s time to think about who—or what—is standing in your hero’s way.

Week 2: The Antagonist

If you completed the character worksheet last week, you should have arrived at a one-sentence answer to this question: What does your main character want, and what obstacles stand in the way?

If you didn’t get that far, or you started writing your story without thinking about it, hit the pause button right now and consider it. This is the heart of your story, and it will also be the engine driving it forward.

This week we’re going to look closely at the obstacles standing in your protagonist’s way. It can be helpful to think about your own life.

  • Do you remember a time when you overcame something difficult and were better for it?
  • Was there a single person making things hard for you, or was it larger than an individual?
  • What was driving the person to behave the way they did?
  • What were the circumstances creating this obstacle?

Don’t write any of this down, just think about it for a few minutes. By remembering the details of a real-life obstacle, you should start to understand how to create one in your story.

Now, go back to that question about what your character wants. What sort of challenges must your character face to become the hero you want them to be? Who is standing in their way? Creating a well-crafted antagonist is an crucial part of creating a great story. Click here to learn even more about antagonists.

For this week’s exercise, fill out another character worksheet for your villain. You need to know them just as well as you know your hero. When you get to the end of the questionnaire, you’ll be able to answer the same question we talked about above, but from a different perspective: What does your antagonist want, and what obstacles stand in the way?

Now you’ve got yourself some conflict, the key ingredient for storytelling! The struggle between a hero and antihero, a protagonist and an antagonist, a good guy and a villain… this is what great stories are made of. We can’t wait to read what happens next.


Due to the overwhelming popularity of this Challenge, we have updated the rules to to give as many people as possible a chance to enter:

  • We will not accept previously written stories—except those from the backstory Challenge.
  • We are now only allowing one story per person to be entered. Make it your best!

1. Theme of the month: Your choice! - This week, continue your story by adding another Chapter. Please remember to follow our community guidelines and do not include identifying information in your book (last names, your town, or your school). The maximum wordcount for your novelette is 5,000 words.

To be eligible for inclusion in the monthly roundup, you must submit a story with at least two finished chapters to the Challenge by July 25, 2016.

2. Choose your artwork – Browse our library of images to find the artwork that inspires you. Select an artist to be your illustrator, or search for a keyword to use multiple images.

3. Submit - When you have finished your chapter, select “Summer Writing Club July Challenge: Novelette” on the book details page before you submit to moderation.

4. Eligibility Any Storybird member can participate in Summer Writing Club. You join simply by participating each week. Paid membership is not required (but it will allow you to display your beautiful badges, receive printable certificates for each challenge, and get lots of other perks.) Click here to receive a discount for new and existing members. Ends soon!

You must have a Regular account for your story to appear in the public library and to be featured on our blog. Stories published from Student accounts are only visible to members of your class.

The Badge for this month’s Challenge is:

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