When it comes to racing clocks, October’s clock has long legs and the determination to reach November sooner than I can plan my way there.
Tick-tock, tick tock. Another day, another task for planning my November drafting.
Extensive background and character work are done and today I’ll be formalizing my antagonist. I’m never truly ready for NaNoWriMo, but I try to be as ready as possible. I’ll launch into the narrative outline by this weekend, but first come the characters.
I write a different brand of fantasy fiction and that calls for a different brand of antagonist. No sinister world-dominator’s for me. I want real people. My antagonist’s path parallels that of my protagonist, but their paths are far enough removed for the perspectives to be far different.
Oddly enough, I went into Protecting the Pneuma Key unclear who the antagonist would be.
In my only other Pannulus novel, Stealing Light, the antagonist was someone close to the MC. It was someone who needed my protagonist so as to further their own ambitions. The difference in that novel was the antagonist was established at the outset. Given the location and the politics in Pannulus it would have been easy to go down a similar road again, but I resisted.
I don’t like to repeat myself.
Instead, I went a slightly different direction. It’s again someone close to my protagonist, but someone she wouldn’t suspect, and doesn’t. In fact, she admires their compassion and kindness. Too, this time the antagonist is a friend who genuinely cares about her, so much so that this person wants to save her—from herself, and for all the wrong reasons.
It’s their belief that in saving Zepha they’ll also save the nation.
Their desire is so strong—and more extensive in its misguided reasoning than what I’m telling—that the antagonist does terrible deeds in preparation for saving her.
It’s someone she sees quite often, someone she’s laughed and joked with over hot drinks at an outdoor cafe. It’s someone who always leaves her feeling better about herself. It’s someone who’s killed once, left someone in a coma, and is kidnapping innocents…
It’s someone who could be any number of characters in the story.
Like a shadow, this character has danced around the edges of my planning all month. Each stage in my process has rendered them more corporeal. A couple of days ago they solidified and now, well, here I am.
I started this post before sunrise on Wednesday and all morning more details about my antagonist flooded my mind. At work. Fortunately, they indulge me taking a moment to type some key words into my phone. I am, after all, that strange writer who works on special projects in the back…
I’m certain that when viewed from the outside, the antagonist’s actions will make little sense. Once they’re revealed, though, they’ll seem reasonable. In fact, the reasoning behind them makes sense—until you realize how cruel and misguided it all is.
All this is stoking the fires to draft, but NaNo remains two weeks distant. Instead, over the next few days, I’ll bring more characters to life. This weekend I’ll start the narrative outline. I can’t wait.