Power Up: Writers Amp up your Battle Plans

We’re a culture that loves super heroes. Look at the movies released every year from the genre; Batman, Superman, The Avengers, Spiderman, and the list goes on. In the superhero world, the power is usually on the good guys side. I mean no mere mortal can take on a Batman. For a battle to exist, the antagonist has to rise to the same ‘super’ status of our Batman character. Novelist Michael Shaara defines a story as the power struggle between equal forces. (Burroway)

Watching a boxing match between mismatched fighters or a game in which one team whoops up on the other is no fun. We want that competitive battle everywhere, especially in our fiction. For writers, this means spending just as much time developing your antagonist as you do your hero. Match the two in a lot of ways. This allows them to truly battle for the shifting of the balance of power. However, somewhere in there plant some small differences which allow for the final triumph to fall with the character you choose. (As a reader I’m hoping the good guy wins, but I’m a sucker for that kind of thing.)

Check out your WIP. Pit your two against each other in an arm wrestling match. Who will cheat? Who is physically stronger? Who’s mentally more agile? In an end of the book battle, will it be to the death or will one simply put down his weapon? These two should see themselves as equals. If they do, they know the other represents a true threat. Thus, the reader knows it also.

As a fan of the superhero genre, my favorite bad guy has always been the Joker. He’s twisted and proud. In literature, I love to hate Bob Ewell in To Kill a Mockingbird. He represents man’s darkest nature. Who is your favorite bad guy from books or film?


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