#NaNoWriMo Day 4: Antagonist’s Call to Adventure

Day 4
Word count: 6,350 words
Word count goal: 8,000 words
Mapping the Hero’s Journey: Call To Adventure
Save The Cat: Debate

I’m really enjoying meditating on the works of Akiya Kageichi for this project. They are so full of story inspiration. The second top image by Andrew Ferez made me think of the Chekov’s Gun exercise (like the Simple Task on day one) to make sure that objects described in a scene are important to the story. I love detailed journal image Fossil Boy by Chris Rush. When I saw it, I thought, which of my characters might keep a detailed journal? How could I incorporate this into the story?

Plotting with Tarot

Where do my antagonist’s motivations come from? What was his Call to Adventure?

Today’s scenes include three different antagonists, so I’ll be doing a few different readings. I’ll include all three pictures and you can see if any seem to apply to your antagonist (s).

Okay. Something very strange happened when I chose the first set of cards. The layout you see is exactly how I set them on the table. I turned on my DSLR camera and took the picture the same way I have each morning, but the camera took the picture upside-down. Without changing a single setting I did the next two readings and the camera took the pictures right-side-up.

The interesting thing about the camera deciding that my first reading should be upside-down is not only does that change the meaning of the cards, it also changes the position. Thus, an upside-down Queen of cups would be what my antagonist is up to when he gets the call to adventure and the upside-down High Priestess would be why he would consider it.

I have a lot to think about. Not only about the electronic interference of poltergeists and the unseen powers in the universe, but also whether there’s a hidden or unseen aspect to my character, a dark underbelly if you will.

Ask Your Character

Ask your antagonist –

  • Who has been the kindest to you in your life?
  • What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
  • What is your earliest memory?

Word Of The Day

bellicose: adj. aggressive, hostile

8 Action Verbs:

achieved          budgeted          contacted          documented

governed          listened            processed          served

Poem prompt

Today’s poem has a form prompt. Write a rondelet about your antagonist’s motivations.


I need to achieve
To finally get what I deserve
I need to achieve
Smiling faces blockades meant to deceive
But I’m quick to swerve
Because my needs I serve
I need to achieve

Awesome Sentence Challenge

A sentence can do one of four things:

  1. Make a statement:declarative sentences
  2. Ask a question: interrogative sentences
  3. Make a command:imperative sentences
  4. Make an exclamation exclamatory sentences!

Practice writing the four kinds of sentences. Then try the same sentence all four ways.

Today’s Simple Task

Show antagonist’s goals, needs and desires.

Warm-up Exercise

Set your timer to 20 minutes. Write a scene where your protagonist and antagonist share a meal. – from Anna C. (NaNoWriMo poster)

Recommended Word Crawl

Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along crawl. A great way to study bad guy motivations and I wanted an excuse to watch it again.


More Prompts From Twitter

Twitter is a treasure trove of writing prompts. #prompts is a good place to start.

It led me to @sempersum which led me to #NovemberFalls poetry challenge

NovemberFalls poetry challenge

There is also a take a prompt/ leave a prompt thread in the forums of the NaNoWriMo site.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 24: Strangers At The Door

Writober 24

by Maria L. Berg 2016

This image is so creepy! I find the idea of someone looking back at me when I look through the peephole in my door, terrifying. It makes me think of strangers spying on people. These days it’s so easy and prevalent. There are so many creepers in the world. It must be a strange, base human desire some people can’t rise above.

This image makes me think of Rear Window (Did you know they made a re-make in 1998 with Christopher Reeve: Rear Window ?), Disturbia and The Burbs. One of my novels (still editing) explores the unseen underbelly of a quiet neighborhood. When you don’t know your neighbors, you’re surrounded by strangers.

It makes me think of the adages, “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean you’re not being watched.” and “Just because you’re paranoid, it doesn’t mean someone’s not trying to kill you.”

#vss very short story

I was about to leave when I heard a shuffling on the other side of the door. I placed my eye to the peep hole only to see a bloated purple eye staring back at me. How long had he been there, watching?


Theme: When Lovers Meet

This theme is a little awkward with our visual prompt at first glance. It lends to stalker stories which I don’t want to write a poem about. However, we could twist it to be about overcoming the fear (for some the terror) of meeting new people. It could be a poem/story of social-phobia, or agoraphobia.

Blitz poem I would not have figured this out without examples, but once you see one, it makes sense and looks like fun.

The Song Of The Hermit

Someone is knocking
Someone I don’t know
Know no better
Know thyself alone
Alone in the dark
Alone against them all
All the wolves at the door
All knowledge is key
Key to success
Key to the safe
Safe from harm
Safe, not out
Out in the crowd
Out of time
Time to kill
Time will come
Come here little girl
Come from behind
Behind the line
Behind the door
Door to tomorrow
Door slammed shut
Shut it quick!
Shut out the fear
Fear of the world
Fear of a stranger
Stranger than fiction
Stranger things can happen
Happen to see
Happen upon love
Love the one you’re with
Love is blind
Blind as a bat
Blind to evil
Evil is as evil does
Evil all-seeing eye
Eye for an eye
Eye in the sky
Sky of blue
Sky wide open
Open the door
Open the lock
Lock your lips
Lock your heart
Heart of glass
Heart is broken
Broken . . .
Glass . . .


Antagonist’s backstory

flashfichive day 24

graphic by Anjela Curtis

I obviously got very excited about creating well-rounded antagonists yesterday. If you haven’t looked at it yet, there are a ton of great links in the #FlashFicHive section of #Writober Day 23. This prompt is also great for #NaNoWriMo prep.

If you want more information about writing great antagonists, here are more links:

How to Write Multiple Antagonists from K.M. Weiland’s website Helping Writers Become Authors

Should You Ever Redeem Your Bad Guy? K.M. Weiland video

6 Ways to Write Better Bad Guys a guest post by Laura DiSilverio on Writer’s Digest

Ellen Brock has a great post as part of her Novel Boot Camp – Lecture #8: Writing Believable Antagonists

And here’s a fun one from Melissa Donovan at Writing Forward – Fiction Writing Exercises: Becoming the Antagonist

Once you’ve become your antagonist, don’t forget to head over to #FlashFicHive and share some lines from your backstory.

Happy Reading and Writing!

#Writober Day 23: A Path Through The Snow

writober 23

“Nature lends such evil dreams” by V. H. Hammer

This image grabs me with so many possibilities. Of course, the main question is, where’d that blood come from? That’s the story question, right? Or is that blood? What else could it be?

This image makes me think of Fargo. All those people committing heinous crimes in the cold north.

It also makes me think of The Abominable Snowman. A friend of mine recently had me look up the Dyatlov Pass Incident, an unsolved mystery that some believe was a Yeti attack. If you want to learn more about Dyatlov Pass there are many books on the subject.

What made this path in the snow? Is it human, animal, other? Does the main character know what happened here, or see it and respond? That could lead to a fun psychological horror. Ooh.

#vss very short story

After hours of hiking, lost in a sea of white, I was so happy to see a clear path, I didn’t let my wild mind register the possibilities of why it was made in blood-red streaks.


Theme: What is the Message? Based on the story of the mythical messenger Iris and her fraternal twin sister Arke. Iris was the messenger for the Olympians and Arke betrayed the Olympians and became the messenger for the Titans.

poem form: nonet

A Clear Path In The Snow

Cold snow blinding white, something ahead
A message or trail left blood red
Unclear route I choose to tread
I fear where I’ll be led
Could reveal the dead
On which it fed
Or a sled
Paint red



Ooh, Antagonist’s P.O.V. (point of view).

flashfichive day 23

graphic by Anjela Curtis

If I combine this with the image prompt, my antagonist might have some explaining to do. This could also combine well with the OctPoWriMo prompt. Who would be the antagonist of your story, Iris or Arke?

Writing Antagonists

Early on, in my weekly critique group, one of the writers was having a problem with her antagonist. She felt he was too cliche. He reminded her of Ming The Mercilessfrom Flash Gordon. We worked on making a more sympathetic villain by exploring his backstory. What formative events encouraged his current behavior? We also looked at specific affectations, behaviors and speech patterns that make him unique and humanize him.

If you’re interested in learning more about making your antagonist more sympathetic, you may be interested in Teller of Tales: The Sympathetic Villain by Tess Collins.

Another thing to think about when creating your antagonist is the antagonist is not necessarily “the bad guy.” An antagonist may not even be a person. For instance, in movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Sharknado, The Perfect Storm and Twister (1996) the antagonists are “weather events”. The point of the antagonist is to be in opposition of your main character. There may be some more good advice on the subject in The One Hour Guide to Better Antagonists: How to Write Stronger Stories Using the Power of Opposition by Mary Lynn Mercer.
The two characters in Lunatics by Dave Barry and Alan Zweibel are good examples of oppositional antagonists. This fun story is told by each character in first person in alternating chapters. Each one sees himself as the good guy and the other as the bad guy and due to events, neither is under the best behavior.
My NaNoWriMo novel this year is going to have a diverse collection of antagonists, criminals of minor to major crimes who all think the protagonist has found them out. I’ll be exploring every aspect of the antagonist this November.
Want more information on creating great antagonists? Here are some links to what other writers are saying:

Katie Masters did a guest post on Writerly Bookish Stuff : On Creating Well Rounded Antagonists

Deep Antagonist Characterization by Linda W. Yezak

Benjamin T. Collier has written a series of posts on Writing Villains

David Ben-Ami: The Missing Piece – What Most Antagonists Lack over at A Writer’s Path

Looking through Experience Writing’s archives, I found something interesting I wrote about Strange Pleasures that might inspire some attributes for your antagonists.

And Christopher Bailey’s great guest post: Carving through Writer’s Block ends with a tip about antagonists!

Do you have a post about writing antagonists? Or have a link to some good info about writing antagonists? Please share in the comments.

I hope you have an exciting day exploring antagonists!

Happy Writing and Reading!

Carving Through Writer’s Block: Guest post from author Christopher Bailey

3 Ways to Conquer Writer’s Block

Bad guy on a boatIt’s a simple two-word phrase that can make a writer’s blood turn cold; writer’s block. It is the dreaded barrier against creative flow that every author struggles with from time to time. There are a number of causes of this mental road block, and a number of theories on how to cure it.

In an effort to give my fellow writer a leg up and over that wall of resistance, here are the three biggest things I’ve found, and my own personal variants, that have helped me past my creative constipation. No doubt you’ve all heard much of this before, so I’m going to throw my own spin on them and tell you exactly what variants work best for me. Experimentation is key to finding your own magical keys to open the writer’s block door, so by all means try out your own variations. We’re creative people by nature, after all, right?

Clear Your Mind

Easier said than done, I know. We live in a world where we’re all drowning in the pressures of our lives. Jobs, family, social obligations, finances, the list could go on for pages. It all results in the same issue however; stress and mental exhaustion. These are two of the biggest killers of creative flow.

Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do to push such things from your mind, however temporarily. Anything that helps you to rest and restore your mental clarity will work here. A few suggestions are meditation, take a nap, go for a walk, enjoy a break filled with your favorite, oft-neglected pastime. The drawback of course, is that all of these things take time.

For me, meditation is my go-to cure for mental mud when I sit down to write. It doesn’t villain meditatestake long. Even a ten minute meditation with emphasis on mental clarity works wonders. That ten minutes will often buy me so much more productivity over the course of my writing session that it makes up for itself six-fold. It does take time, but the payoff is well worth it. It’s also nice that you can do this at any time during your writing when you stall out.

Just get comfortable, close your eyes, and breathe steadily. No, the lotus position is not required. Count your breaths, but only up to five. Focus on breathing smoothly and evenly, and when you reach five breaths, start over at one. This helps to keep your mind on the breathing.

It will be obvious if you’ve lost focus, since you’ll count higher than five. Don’t get frustrated, just calmly refocus on the breathing and start over at one. Any meditative master, which I am not, will tell you that meditation takes practice like any other skill.

Handy tip: don’t set any kind of timer if the alarm will be loud and jarring. Most phones have a gentle alarm feature. Startling yourself out a calm meditation can send you spinning right back into a tailspin of frustrated, foggy thinking.

Remove Distractions

bad guy at the pianoOf course, some distractions are inevitable. If you’re a stay-at-home parent you’re unavoidably going to have to deal with child-oriented distractions on a regular basis, for example. Often, there are many distractions we may not even realize are problematic until they’re removed. The point is, when you’re trying to overcome writer’s block, eliminating all possible distractions makes a huge difference.

For me, having a designated space to write in is a tremendous help. It can be a special chair with your laptop, a writer’s nook, or even a home office. Find some place that is as quiet and calm as possible, as free from distractions as possible. And for crying out loud, turn off your phone. Texts and Candy Crush notifications will not help your writing!

Handy tip: If you’re going to play music in the background, experiment with styles. You might be surprised what you find is most beneficial to your writing flow. I tried classical, which I love, and my writing stalled out constantly. I tried soft rock, and I found none of my scenes held any real intensity. I switched to industrial metal, and suddenly even my love scenes had more impact and power. Go figure.

Can’t Write? Just write.

Okay, I get it. This seems counter-intuitive. Despite how odd it sounds, many writers will Bad guy walking a dogtell you that the best way to get past a creative speed bump is to power past it. Some will tell you to just keep writing in your current project. I don’t encourage this, personally.

You want your work to be the best possible, and forcing your way through a tough patch can often lead to sections in your finished piece that are the literary equivalent of binge-eating a gallon of mint-chocolate chip ice cream to get over a bad breakup. It might get the job done, but it certainly isn’t healthy and the end result is guaranteed not to be pretty.

Many writers suggest free writing, the practice of opening a blank page and just beginning to write whatever comes to mind, cohesive and coherent or not. I spent a lot of time working with this method, and it works passably well for me. It is not, however, what has been the cure-all for my own creative blocks, though it may work great for you and I do encourage giving it a whirl.

Handy tip:

Ready for my personal favorite trick? Here we go!

I write random, unrelated back stories for my antagonists. Often totally unrelated to my current story or why my villains are, well, villains.

Villain in the gardenJust little things, like psycho cop’s bachelor party, or evil galactic dictator’s childhood trip to the pet store. This practice always takes me to unexpected depths in my anti-heroes, and allows me to see and understand my malevolent friends a little better. This is not only good for the depth of my bad guys, but fun writing practice. Simple, right? I get stuck, I open a new document and write a fun little back story for a much-maligned character.

The crazy part is that every single time I’ve done this, I’ve had a random inspiration on my main story. I suspect this works on the same principle as the theory that we have our best problem-solving ideas when we’re not thinking about the problem at all. For whatever reason, it works absolute magic for me!

Keep Trying!

Whatever works for you, or doesn’t, keep trying! Don’t give up, and if you have to walk away for a time, do it. But come back to it soon. No art form is improved without practice, and writing is no exception. Don’t let yourself get discouraged or frustrated. Just clear your thoughts, remove distractions, and just write.

Happy writing!


picture of author Christopher BaileyChristopher Bailey lives in Seattle with his incredible wife and daughter, eagerly expecting their second child. A lover of literature from an early age, he began writing short stories in the third grade for a school assignment and has never looked back. Having worked professionally with children and teens for many years, he has developed a particular fondness for young adult fiction, which is where he now focuses his writing in the hopes of helping a few more children learn to love the written word.

Hey readers! Want to meet Christopher Bailey in person?

Chris has a full schedule of fun events he’ll be at this fall. Want to pick his brain in person, or tell him how much you loved this post and his author interview? Stop on by and say hi.

Jet City Comic Show in Tacoma, WA, Nov 5th-6th

Silver Bells Christmas Bazaar in Puyallup, WA, Nov 19th

Victorian Country Christmas in Puyallup, WA, Nov 30th – Dec 4th
(Disregard dates on the banner, they haven’t updated from last year!)


He’ll be signing autographs at all three. He hopes to see you there!

cover of Christopher Bailey's new book WHISPER

If you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest and can’t make it to any of the above events to get your copy of his new book Whisper signed, don’t worry. Chris is having a Goodreads Giveaway for 5 autographed copies.