Day 26 of 30-Day Tarot Writing Challenge: The Antagonist’s Return

We’re on Day 26 and only have five more days to go (including today) to get that novel done. If you’re anything like me, once the climax is done, you either are avoiding writing the ending, or you tie everything up really quickly—both of which can leave you short of a wordcount goal.

(Jump to The Rise of the Antagonist, or Jump to the Spread)

I tend to find myself looking back and wondering what I can add further back in the story to get up to my wordcount or what might be missing. I wonder about the pace, and whether I should consider adding any scenes.

A tip for when I don’t know what to do but need to keep up the writing is have a separate document open just for journaling. I literally type, type, type on my story until I get stuck. As soon as I have an inkling I might get stuck, I ALT+Tab to my journaling document and continue writing why I’m stuck, my options, what’s going through my head about the story—anything I possibly can, so long as it keeps me hitting the keys and thinking about my story. If it deviate then it’s a useless exercise. It doesn’t matter if I’ve written it all before in the journal, it’s just a journal. But it does keep my mind on the story, help me working things out, and helps me to keep up my momentum.

I find I do this a lot after the climax. I struggle with endings, as most people do, and thus, I want to start going back to the beginning and filling stuff in, taking stuff out, general editing. But when I do this, it prolong writing the end of my novel, and as a result, it might remain endless (just like editing).

Thus, it’s important that we keep moving forward before filling in the end stuff.

That being said, we aren’t quite to the end yet

On Tuesday we worked on the climax of your novel. During the Demise of the Antagonist spread, we drew a card to see if the defeat of the Antagonist was truly their final defeat. If you got a reversal, then this spread is for you.

The Antagonist’s Return Spread


In theory, just like your Protagonist, your Antagonist is going to have undergone some changes. After all, they were defeated once, and thus, they might have residual scars, their circuits showing, or a severely bruise ego to say the least. However, they also learned some stuff about your protagonist as well. Thus, one might expect that they should have a different card to represent them than they have done in the past.

If you have one in mind, go for it. If you don’t, no sweat. At the end of the day, unless your plan is to convert the Antagonist, they’re probably going to be operating under the same mentalities when they rise again.

However, what you will do regarding your signifier is figure out if they’re going to be weakened or strengthened from their first bout with the MC. Will they have learned and thus be more powerful or will they just have Will pushing them forward, but still be quite weak?

To determine this, go through your deck, making sure each of the cards is upright. Give them a shuffle a few times, then divide the pile in half evenly, turn one of those halves upside-down, then shuffle them back together. Give it a good shuffle to make sure there’s an even distribution between right side-up and upside-down cards.

Now, go through and find your signifier representing your Antagonist. If it’s right side-up, then they’re coming back stronger and wiser. If it’s reversed then they’re coming back weaker.

Card 1: What the Antagonist Learned

The Antagonist will have learned from their confrontation with the MC, and because of this, will have at least a little bit of an upper hand. Knowing what the Antagonist values from that interaction will be helpful in generating how their final confrontation goes.

Card 2: Scars

As I mentioned before, if the Antagonist was defeated in some way, or decided they were outnumbered and ran away, they’ll still have some wound to show for this. This could be pride, this could be physical, this could be emotional. Either way, it should relate back to the Climax spread and the weakness that was exploited by the MC during their confrontation.

Card 3: The Situation

The third card is going to represent the situation your MC is in at the time that your Antagonist comes back. This might be the scene, setting, tension (maybe they’re in the middle of an argument, or a romantic moment, etc.), so on.

Card 4: Antagonist’s Strength

Despite whether the Antagonist is coming back stronger or weaker, there is going to be something that gives them a bit of an upper hand. This could be the sheer Will and drive to move them forward, ager fueling them, etc., or it could be something physical, or an Ace up their sleeve.

Card 5: Their Weakness

Card 3 will be what the MC uses against them in order to defeat them this time. While it could be easy just to go for the weak spot from the previous encounter, their newly developed strength should relate to their weakness to add interest to the story.

Cards 6, 7, & 8: The Event

The final three cards represent the event of the actual final show down. This can be extensive or it can be low-key. Consider what you want to be the height of your story—the initial Climax, or this point. In my eyes, both are acceptable, and there are examples of both in movies (there is a movie where the machine is the baddy, and it gives a shudder and a final reach for the MC and then dies. This is low-key. I can’t remember what the film is, at all.).

How is your CampNaNoWriMo project going? How have you been using these spreads? Let me know in the comments!

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