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Day 10 of 30-Day Tarot Writing Challenge: Developing Your Antagonist

30 Day Tarot Writing ChallengeRight, time to crack knuckles, now we’re into the meatiness of Camp NaNoWriMo. You should at least have your antagonist somewhat worked out, or at least have a character who represents the antagonist.

But what do you really know about your antagonist?

Yesterday’s spread and today’s is about developing your antagonist and how they relate to your MC and how they contribute to the plot (other than the obvious). This will help to make your story juicier, and with a little luck, cause some inner conflict for your reader.

Think of your favorite villains in the genre that you like. Why are they your favorite? Do they know they’re the villain? Are they intentionally the villain?

Note: I went back and forth as to whether or not I should include My Accountability in this post, since this is such an extensive spread. However, the whole purpose of me posting the My Accountability section is to give an example of how the spread can be done and interpreted. Also to hold myself accountable to make sure I’m following my own advise—but mostly the first thing.

So, my apologies in advance, it’s a long one.

Antagonist Development Spread

This is an extensive spread. Of course, if you want, you can use this for your other characters, and I actually recommend you do, including your MC. Though, if you do, you can change the position of Card 16 (which refers to your MC) to how they view the Antagonist (or whatever whoever they need to have an opinion on).

If you have someone figured out for your Antagonist, select a card that you feel represents them as your signifier. You should use the same card you used for your antagonist yesterday if you chose one.

Day 10 30 Day Tarot Writing Challenge

Card 1: Goal

This is the goal of your Antagonist. If you did the spread yesterday, try to combine it with the goal that you drew for them yesterday as well to make a more complex fixation. This will serve as their motivation as to why they are fighting tooth and nail for that they want.

Cards 2, 3, & 4: Background

Everyone has to have a backstory. Look at these three cards together as a detailed background. You can view them as individual events in their life, you can run them together to tell a story, or you can look at the sum of the three cards to summarize their background.

Card 5: Contribution

Use Card 5 to show how the background of the Antagonist fuels their motivation. How we are raised, the experiences we have, the things that make us think, all contribute to what we view as important. What we feel is important is usually what motivates us to success. This is the card that represents that fuel.

Card 6: Self-View

Card 6 is how the Antagonist sees themselves. Do they have high confidence, low confidence? Do they see themselves as passive? As active? A fighter? A lover? Do they know what they’re doing is wrong? Do they feel it’s right? This can shape their attitude toward their actions.

Card 7: Public View

Card 7 is how the general or wider public views your Antagonist. This can be as simple as the grocer, the post person, the barista. Or it can be their audience, those who follow their every word and believe in the cause they are touting.

Card 8: Close View

Card 8 represents how those who are close to the Antagonist view them. This could be advisers, close friends, a partner, employees, etc. But they are those that know more about the Antagonist than someone in the general public. These are the people that the Antagonist chooses to have near them, though not necessarily those who choose to be around the Antagonist. Consider henchmen, servants, reluctant spouses. Or it can be people who do choose to be around your Antagonist. Either way, this card is going to help shape the inner circle of the Antagonist.

Cards 9 & 10: Flaws

Every character has to have flaws. It’s what makes them complex. Card 9 and Card 10 represent two flaws that the Antagonist has.

Cards 11 & 12: Redeeming Qualities

Likewise, while every character has to have flaws, every character has to have good qualities too. It doesn’t mean that you have to devise an Antagonist that’s likeable (though I do enjoy an antagonist that’s likeable—like Hans Landa in Inglorious Bastards. You hate him, but you kind of love his character), but every person has their strengths and weaknesses.

Card 13: Internal Conflict

There is something that everyone of us is conflicted about within us. This could be our sense of right and wrong, our confidence, our perceptions of society vs. how we want to act, ect. This card represents the internal conflict of the Antagonist, providing the Antagonist with their very own Antagonist (how many more times can I say Antagonist?). We all have one.

Card 14: Hidden

Card 14 represents what the Antagonist is hiding. This could be their weakness that thwarts them in the end, or it could be something that they themselves have to come to terms with (which helps for a developed character arch as well).

Card 15: Why

Card 15 corresponds to why they’re hiding the thing they’re hiding. Again, this can work toward their motivation, and their goal. This can give greater detail into their weakness. Essentially, this could contribute to the greater plot.

Card 16: The MC

Card 16 is how the Antagonist views the Main Character. This is important. If they like the Main Character it will alter how they interact with them, their goal, how they go about their goal. Maybe it’s that they actually are trying to guide the MC toward their goal, and the MC just isn’t having it. Or maybe they just hate the MC and think they’re smug and a nuisance. Or, it could be they don’t see them at all. They’re just an ant getting in their way.

Things to Consider

1. Cards on the Left

These cards represent the internal aspects of your Antagonist. Looking Cards 2-5, 9, 10, 14, and 15 as a whole is going to shape how your Antagonist acts, reacts, thinks, feels, and so on. This will really breathe some life into your characters.

2. Cards on the Right

Cards 7-8, 11, 12, and 16 are for the most part your external dealings. This is how the world looks at your Antagonist, how those close to them look at the Antagonist, and likewise, how they see the MC. How the external views your Antagonist is likely to fuel how your Antagonist views your MC. Those outside of us give a reflection of us, and thus shape our world view. By considering these things, you’ll be able to give more depth to your character.

3. Cards in the Middle

There are only two cards in the center, and that’s the Goal and the Internal Conflict. If you were to boil your character down to two card, these would be it. Card 13 would cross Card 1. Consider these two together when shaping your Antagonist.

4. The Reveal

You don’t to share all the background of your Antagonist, or all of the details here. However, what they do is provide you with an exposition of your character which will dictate how they think and act. If you really want to get in the mind of your characters and create a life of them, then these are the things you need to know.

Check Out Day 11: Sidekick Development

My Accountability

I do have a signifier that I use for my Antagonist (yet to be named and thus far nicknamed G), which is the 9 of Pentacles. I drew her and focused on the story as I shuffled, and what I know of her so far.

I put the signifier above Card 1 (3 of Pentacles in this spread) as it just seemed to fit nicely there.

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Day 10 of 30 Day Tarot Writing ChallengeCard 1: Goal

I drew the 3 of Pentacles for her goal. I was certainly drawn to the idea of an apprentice, but she certainly isn’t an apprentice. She’s after the apprentice, that is, the MC. He has access to something that she wants to dismantle, and thus, he is the key to doing so. A lot of it has to do with the cultural norm developed in the World Building Spread, in which there are many marriages, and a lot of them are forced. She’s being forced into this society, and thus she wants to dismantle it.

Cards 2, 3 & 4: Background

My cards here are very interesting. I got the Page of Cups, the 6 of Swords, and the Page of Wands. To me, she’s now acting under a new identity. She was the Page of Cups, and she was sent away, and now is the Page of Wands. I believe that she loved passionately, was destined to be an oracle, maybe even was an oracle. Though for some reason, some situation, she was sent away, told she couldn’t be, and assumed the identity of the Page of Wands. She was told to squelch the intuitive, Water side of her, and that the only thing worth pursuing, the only thing that held any individual truth, was passion.

Card 5: Contribution

How this contributes to the plot is the Knight of Pentacles reversed. Initially I thought that there was a false believe that money was the drive. But I think that it’s her use of the MC, who is standardly the 8 of Pentacles, but could easily be seen as the Knight of Pentacles, in a negative light to attain her goal that is the reversed knight. I’m still working on that one thought.

Day 10 of 30 Day Tarot Writing ChallengeCard 6: Self-View

I got the 8 of Cups. She views herself stronger than her Water side, stronger than her emotions and intuition. She doesn’t need it. She has power and drive, and there is nothing more that is necessary. Thus, she can walk away from matters of the heart, from tugging of emotion. Further more, she actively ignores her intuition because of the new identity she was forced to assume.

Card 7: Public View

The public sees her as the 7 of Cups reversed. This is that they view her as a no-nonsense kind of gal, almost like the Queen of Swords—stern, straight forward, logical, somewhat cold. They believe that there are no illusions with her, that you get what you see.

Card 8: Close View

Those around her believe her to be the Knight of Cups. Those who are very close to her, such as her father, know her true identity, know that she’s an oracle. They know what she’s capable of.

Cards 9 & 10: Flaws

Her two flaws are the World and 8 of Pentacles reversed. The World, while not reversed, indicates that she hasn’t really learned her lessons up to yet. And thus, she’s forced to learn them with Percyval (generally represented by the 8 of Pentacles). This contributes and conflicts with her goal, which works out nicely.

Cards 11 & 12: Redeeming Qualities

Her good qualities is the 10 of Wands reversed and the 4 of Swords. She’s grounded, knows how to chill out and relax (if you look at the 4 of Swords in the Trippin’ Waite deck, it’s someone in their room listening to music), or at least seem relaxed. She never raises her temper or yells, but instead has a calm demeanour, no matter what’s going on. She doesn’t let the work she’s doing block her sight. She can remain focussed on the path and be sure footed in how she gets there.

Day 10 of 30 Day Tarot Writing Challenge

Card 13: Internal Conflict

Her Internal Conflict is the Ace of Cups—oh really? This corresponds nicely with her true identity as an oracle, in that she has to stop neglecting that aspect of herself. It corresponds to her lessons not learned, and also corresponds to her goal which is the MC. She wants to just use him for her needs, but he’s going to bring out the part of her that she needs to supress.

Card 14: Hidden

What she’s hiding is the Emperor—her father isn’t her father. He’s the cloak for her hidden identity.

Card 15: Why

8 of Wands—I won’t lie, I’m tired of this card coming up in my character readings. I find it difficult to deal with because of the lack of imagery on it. However, I’m going to take this one literally—there is a Magical Council of 8 individuals all looking for the Oracle who disappeared, and thus that is the reason why she is hiding that her father isn’t her father.

Card 16: The MC

How G sees Percyval is the Queen of Swords reversed. She sees him as the opposite as she wants to be seen by the public, and is successfully seen by the public. She sees him as illogical, kind of dumb, lacking discipline, and somewhat soft.

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How is your Camp NaNoWriMo going? Do you feel your Antagonist is fully developed? What do  you think is missing? Talk to me about it in the comments!

Here are some helpful links:

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5 Comments on “Day 10 of 30-Day Tarot Writing Challenge: Developing Your Antagonist

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