How to Use Antagonists in Your Story: The Right Way and the Wrong Way

How to use antagonists in your story is a critical skill that can either elevate or undermine your entire story. In many ways, antagonists are the true architects of unforgettable plots, and as you navigate the path between narrative brilliance and potential pitfalls, the art of utilizing your story’s antagonists becomes crucial to success. When […]

Violence in Fiction: 6 Archetypes

From KMW: The dictionary tells us the definition of violence is: “Behavior involving physical force intended to hurt, damage, or kill someone or something.” By that definition, we can recognize that violence in fiction is a staple. Almost every story features some example, even if it’s “just” verbal aggression. Certain genres, such as mysteries and […]

What Are Antagonistic Proxies? And How Can They Help Your Story?

Understanding how story works means stripping it down to the basic mechanics that undergird storyform itself. At its simplest, story is protagonist versus antagonist. However, it’s important to understand the definitions. Although we most commonly (and usefully) think of protagonist and antagonist as vibrant, three-dimensional personalities, the functional reality is a bit simpler. Protagonist is […]

Your Story Isn’t Working? Here Are 6 Problems to Troubleshoot

If you’re here because you feel your story isn’t working, you’re not alone. Most writers feel that way about most of the stories they write. The good news is you can probably salvage your current story by troubleshooting a few key areas. One way to learn how to accomplish this is to learn what didn’t work […]

The Role of the Antagonist in Story Structure, Pt. 1 of 2

If you’re a student of story structure, then you probably have a pretty good idea how each of the major plot beats affects your protagonist—and, indeed, how the protagonist in turn drives the plot beats. But what about the antagonist? What is the role of the antagonist in story structure? Plot can be described in […]

9 Ways to Approach Relationship Dynamics in Fiction

Creating an amazing supporting cast that can offer important relationship dynamics in fiction will also help develop your protagonist. This isn’t just because great supporting characters will add color, drama, and nuance to your story in their own right. It’s also because every supporting character in your story has the ability to bring out new […]

Humanizing the Bad Guy (or, Some Thoughts on Violence in Fiction)

Our sense of story is almost like an extrasensory organ. It enables us to pick up on subtle signals in tone and intent and this allows us to interpret how we should respond when we encounter violence in fiction. These signals are more important than the actual act we are reading about or viewing. This […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Mage Arc: Evil and the Weakness of Humankind

It is appropriate that the final archetypal character arc of the life cycle—the Mage Arc—should be the one to finally confront the ultimate antagonist within the human experience. This is, of course, Evil—in all its abstraction. As the final arc, the Mage symbolizes the end of life and, presumably, its fulfillment. Because the Mage is […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the Crone Arc: Death Blight and Tempter

As the fifth of six archetypal character arcs in the life cycle, the Crone Arc offers the first great challenge of a character’s Elder years. Fundamentally, it is a story about a character coming to grips with the full magnitude of mortality. And indeed Death itself is the primary archetypal antagonist within a Crone Arc—or […]

Archetypal Antagonists for the King Arc: Cataclysm and Rebel

The King Arc begins the second half of the life cycle of archetypal character arcs. This placement as the fourth of six arcs necessarily makes it a turning point within the overarching “story structure” of life. We can recognize this particularly in the King’s relationship to his archetypal antagonists. The first three arcs—those of Maiden, […]