Archive | October 28, 2016

Worldbuilding for Preptober… Working out an Antagonist

First, a link – How To Vividly Describe a Setting That You’ve Never Visited:

Okay, I have my character dressed (or I will as soon as I figure it out); I know where she starts out the story (with her mother, fathers, siblings, aunts, uncles, grandmother, nieces, and nephews), what sort of schooling (loosely) she’s had, and what sort of technology the world has. I know it’s a totalitarian govern without the technological control to be as invasive as it could be. I know it’s a poor nation, with far too much of its resources going towards war.

…Crap, I need a bad guy.

My preferred sort of antagonist, as many of you have noticed over the years, is the Setting Is the Problem: Tír na Cali, Addergoole, Unicorn/Factory, probably Things Unspoken. I mean, in The Tod’cxeckz’ri Paper, the main antagonist, technically, is a collar.

I should probably branch out a bit.

And yet, because I decided I was using some parody twitter accounts as the launching point for this series/world, I have a dystopian world. I have an oppressive government, in part because I wanted to play with some elements from some of the best-known dystopian worlds. Also, the idea of having the protagonist be “Chosen” reminded me of some real-world totalitarian governments, so…

The world itself is creating problems for my protagonist. She doesn’t want to be Disappeared. She doesn’t want to live the life the government has picked out for her. Yes, I’m running on tropes for that part; that’s the whole idea of the series. 🙂

But the world doesn’t actually act on its own.

For instance, in Addergoole, there’s a lot of elements that are setting-creating-problems, but some of those were caused by the gods – they could make some awesome antagonists for something a bit more high-powered… – right, back on track. There are elements which relate to the school, but those are caused by students (Ardell, for instance, Baram, Rozen) or by the staff – especially Regine, who created this little corner of hell intentionally and caused it to be as bad as it is through a combination of mindful goals and failure to understand certain parts of human nature. In Tír na Cali, slavery is part of the world, but the abuses of such are caused by specific people and institutions.

Bear with me; I’m talking through this as I go.

Cal got me thinking the other day about antagonists being people – okay, yeah, it’s a little late for that – but with mutually exclusive goals to the protagonist. So I’m going to think about that for a bit.
If your protagonist wants to overthrow the government, why does their antagonist want to keep the government intact?

If your protagonist doesn’t want to be Disappeared, why does the antagonist want to Disappear her?

My protagonist wants to make her own choices about her life. She wants to find a niche that makes her happy.

The government wants to make her choices for her, based on her skillset. This is supposed to also make her happy; indeed, a lot is put into propaganda about how being properly chosen for your ideal job should make you thrilled. “A well-placed nation is a happy nation.”

The agents of the government going against her plans will be working within the government’s goals (stability of the nation, success and victory in war, the power remaining in the hands of the powerful). (Note that these are the goals of people, too; government does not have its own thoughts or plans…)
(That would be a good idea for a novel, although Person of Interest might have covered some of that…)


Government doesn’t have its own thoughts or plans. That’s all people.

There’s a person in charge of the military/government. Are they good? Evil? Neutral? Okay, that’s not very nuanced. What are their goals?

There’s a person who acts out the will of the military on my protag. What about them? Do they enjoy being mean, or are they pressed by orders? By the will of the greater good?

And then there’s the antagonist for the book: someone in the government, acting out the government’s will while also having their own agenda.

I keep picturing him as President Snow. I’ve really got to work on that. I mean, I don’t even know he’s a he.

The theme of the novel is recruited. It’s even the title. Thus, it would help if the antagonist had something to do with recruiting.

So: Avo had skills that will allow the Governor to achieve their goals. They have been relegated to the back-office job of teaching/monitoring upstarts, abnormals, and rebels because they were themselves an upstart of some kind. They might have a bit of a superiority complex, and they definitely want to get out of running the School for Misfits and climb to what they think is their true position.

If Avo (protagonist) is cautious of the propaganda and learning how many layers deep it has gone, Governor both believes in it whole-heartedly and uses it to their own means.

How does the Governor want to use Avo’s skills to achieve their own means? How will that go against Avo’s goals and wishes?

I still have a lot of work to do on this!

What about you? What do you know about your antagonists? What are their goals, and how to those goals put them at odds with the protagonist(s)?

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Thimbleful Thursday: Musical

In Tyeibon, at the height of the body-modification craze, they did not call it hourglass-shaped but violin-shaped, or, sometimes, cello-curved.

Women wore backless dresses draped low on their spine, and had installed strings running from neck to bottom, in imitation of violins. (Men, too, wore backless outfits, and their spines were decorated with ports and keys, but that is a story for another time.) Extreme examples would have tuning pegs worked into the decoration at the neck; the number of strings would range from three up to twenty. They would slide a small, arched bridge between spine and strings, to change the sound of the their music.

The strings were magical, of course. Human bodies, no matter how shaped, does not make the sounds that a hollow piece of wood does. But with these decorations, those bodies could be played like an instrument.
It had become the habit by this point for young rakes and old troubadours to carry their own bow around with them (as women carried their own reed and mouthpiece). Impromptu concerts might break out in the streets sometimes; a very clever musician knew how to create a song on the fly, to match the lady’s sound and key, for every body made its own sound.

It was beautiful indeed. Tyeibon came to be known throughout the Empire for the beauty of their songs and the shapeliness of their women, the strangeness of their fashion and the elaborateness of their courting rituals. They made the highest music there, the songs played in the court of the Emperor himself.
And then an enterprising young farmer-cum-musician slid a flatter bridge between the strings of a would-be socialite, and flattened his bow just so across her strings, and drew from her lean and strong body a twang unheard of in Tyeibon’s more rarefied circles.

In Tyeibon, they did not say hourglass-shaped but violin-curved, or, in a later era, fit as a fiddle.

Written to last week’s Thimbleful Thursday prompt & part of my Things Unspoken ‘verse

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November Writing List

So this

is my current project list for November.

But I know me. I know that I do better with some fun stuff on the list. And I know my call-for-random-numbers people. I know that less than 7 items makes people less into the game.


is my October list as it stands today.

And this

is stuff that’s fallen off the list.

“Bingo” is currently H/C Bingo.
The 7th Sanctum link is:
Some of the others, I’m not even sure: Ask if you want to know.

I need three projects to play with during November. What should they be?

1. Finish It
2. Arisse
3. Showcasing
4. Hurt/Comfort Bingo
5. Addergoole
6. Beekeeper

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