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The Antagonist - Mano Leo-mana

I wish I could draw people just to give you my attempt of what Mano Leo-mana looks like in my mind. One of benefits of writing is that each reader can pull the pieces of his description together to form their image of attractive evil.

Every story needs an antagonist - it's the nature of storytelling. Without that antagonist, the protagonist has nothing to fight against - there is no tension. For some stories, the antagonist is the protagonist (man vs self) - The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe is an example. In other stories, the elements are against the protagonist (man vs nature) such as The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway. In other stories it's culture or a culture that is against the protagonist (man vs world) such as Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. Another antagonist is God and other deity (man vs God) which includes many epic stories and mythology. The most common of antagonist is one person who opposes the protagonist (man vs man).

With main characters in place, I start focusing on the antagonist: who is he? Why does he want to destroy the protagonist and others? What does he want? All these questions and more evolve as I develop the character. Sometimes they are larger than life and fully developed once they come on the scene. Sometimes they slid into place and ferment troubles without my knowledge. Sometimes I recognize them early as the antagonist, but I don't know why. One of the first novels I wrote had an antagonist that was entirely too interesting. In fact, I liked the character so much that I made him a double agent opposed the usurper king and working for the true king while the usurper king thought the character worked for him.

I then needed to go find a new antagonist.

Mano Leo-mana slid into the scene. Honestly, he just appeared. If you've read Azure Maris, the scene in which Azure first meets Mano Leo-mana was when I first realized that this character was the antagonist and not one of the folks at the church or Niall (original Plan A). Originally, Mano Leo-mana was going to be an annoying background noise in the scheme of the story, but I soon realized that the character was more involved. Therefore, I began developing what Mano Leo-mana would look like: appearance, sound of his voice, how he walked, clothing he wore. Next, I elaborated upon what he wanted: why did he want Azure? What was his ultimate goal? Lastly, I created his background which plays into other parts of the story.

Most of the time the antagonist and protagonist pursue the same goal whether that is a position on a team or a lost treasure. In the case of Azure and Mano Leo-mana, they too want the same goal: Azure's return home, but for different reasons (fully explained in Azure Lights for a shameless plug of the next book). The very thing that Azure wants becomes a tool used against her purpose, which, in turn, made me realize something about Mano Leo-mana: he was patient - extremely patient. I already knew that he manipulated, but the patient thing ... indeed his honesty, surprised me until I wrote it into the scene.

I have heard other authors comment that they didn't expect a character would do something. In an attempt to corral the character back into script, the authors would  rewrite and rewrite until giving up, they allowed the character to say whatever it said originally. Writing can be that way, characters develop and in the process of writing, they surprise author and reader alike. The best characters are those that remain true to their form. Mano Leo-mana is not frightening, he isn't supposed to be, but the fact that he is pleasant is part of what makes him dangerous.


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