Every story deserves an antagonist suited to irritating, annoying, upsetting, or frightening the reader. Searching out the right one for your story or novel can make the story jump off the page or just lay there like a limp rag. Where do you begin your search?
Everybody knows a few folks who fit the description above. You may work with one, or for one. Maybe you live near someone you wish would pack up and move. Maybe you came into contact with someone who scared the beejeebers out of you. All of these are excellent sources for the characteristics you want to use, but there is another place to look, a place you would rather not examine, let alone release into the world as a part of your writing.
Each of us is part good, part bad; part admirable, part despicable; part healer, part killer. Looking for a no-good-nik to reach out and grab your reader by the throat and shake them? Shop here. Let your imagination wander into those dark spaces and let the world see what you pack around and keep hidden. Word of caution. This can be dangerous territory, so make sure you only let the bad stuff out onto the page, not into your life. Your inner demons are unique to you, the result of what you have seen, heard, learned, experienced, and survived. The seven deadly sins of Christianity include pride, greed, lust, envy, wrath, and sloth, a litany of behavior that can be applied to all of us in varying degrees, but in your antagonist you can magnify the ones you want. Keeping everything in balance are the seven virtues which harken back to ancient Greece where we find prudence, justice, temperance and courage, to which Christianity added faith, hope, and charity. In my study of religions I have discovered these concepts to be part of most faiths, a reflection of human nature as seen from many perspectives. Like Newton’s third law, for every negative, ideally, there is a balancing positive. We also know the balance is tenuous, and requires effort to maintain. Luckily, as a story teller you can make your character as unbalanced as you wish.
My personal inner demons usually show themselves in the form of a war between the sins and the virtues. I draw upon them for all the characters I create because I want my readers to believe in the people in my stories. I want them to identify with my characters, become friends with or enemies of them. A story that lacks an emotional response from the audience is a failure in my eyes.
Any reaction, positive, negative, happy, sad, is evidence that I have reached out an touched my reader’s inner demons, setting them free for a brief time