Who’s the big bad wolf in your story?

Big bad wolf chasing 3 little pigsWhat was the big bad wolf’s goal in the story of the 3 little pigs?

To have dinner. He needed to eat and the 3 pigs met the bill. The wolf was doing what came naturally to him.

There was nothing evil about eating the pigs, but of course to the pigs, who stood to lose their lives, the wolf was evil.

At the heart of every story is a protagonist with a goal. It doesn’t matter what the goal is, just that it is essential to the character and without reaching it he/she suffers great loss—physical death being the ultimate loss.

In the case of the wolf and the three pigs, each faced the same loss if they didn’t meet their goal—death.

What would the story have been like if the wolf told it?

An essential part of all stories is conflict. Conflict occurs when the protagonist in your story meets with obstacles in her/his attempt to reach her/his goal. Enter the antagonist.

There are 3 arenas from which to pull your antagonist:

  • nature,
  • the protagonist’s own inner conflict,
  • and other people.

Let’s examine “other people,” as that tends to be the most common.

No one is purely good or purely evil. Most land somewhere in between. From one end of the spectrum to the other that leaves a lot of space for imagination.

Like the story of the big bad wolf, if you view your antagonist from his point of view, you will create a stronger more compelling character for your readers.

  • What goal(s) does the antagonist have?
  • What is the motivation for him/her to achieve the goal?
  • How does that goal interfere/oppose the goal of the protagonist?
  • What personality does the opposition have and what is his/her back story?

Your antagonist must be as strong, if not stronger, than the protagonist. Otherwise the antagonist poses no threat. Remember the antagonist views her/his goal as good, just as the wolf saw his goal as a good thing—after all he needed to eat to survive.

If we want our readers to keep reading, we have to give them a reason.

In Act 1 of your novel you must make it known that the protagonist faces opposition of some kind. We don’t even need to know specifically who or what the opposition is, simply that it exists. Thus you compel the reader to keep reading in order to find out how the hero overcomes the opposition.

The better you know your antagonist’s life, the more likely you will create an intricate conflict that will compel your readers to turn the pages.

Is the wolf in your story as well rounded as the pig? Leave your comments below.

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Related posts:

Six Tasks to Accomplish in Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 1
Six Tasks to Accomplish in Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 2
Where in the world is your story? – Part 3
6 Tasks to Accomplish with Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 4
What Do Football and Fiction Have in Common? Act 1 – Part 6
How to Ensure Your Characters and Plot Don’t Flat Line
How do Plot and Scene Work Together? Part 1

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  1. Love this post. It makes it easy for us to think about the protagonist.


  1. […] world is your story? – Part 3 6 Tasks to Accomplish with Act 1 of Your Novel – Part 4 Who’s the Big Bad Wolf in Your Story? Part 5 How to Ensure Your Characters and Plot Don’t Flat Line How do Plot and Scene Work Together? […]

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