Or, "I'm bothered that I'm still having the same sort of problems I had more than a year and a half ago."
I have more ideas for stories than I'll ever be able to write; I long ago accepted that I probably won't live long enough to get every one of them into a viable form and actually write those stories. But it when I can pull enough of an idea together, see more of it, and figure out what that story is supposed to be, I keep running into the same damn problem, and that's the story's antagonist(s).
Most of my ideas start with someone interesting doing something interesting. It's a good place to start, yeah? The problem is that, for a story to work, it can't be about just that. Okay, it could, but even I would get tired of 90,000+ words of someone just going around being awesome, even if I created the person. There needs to be someone or something working against that person, some way to create a conflict.
This is elementary stuff, and I'm a little embarrassed that I'm sitting here trying to figure it out. But damn if I don't have trouble making it work.
I didn't have this problem with STARWIND, because the book's about a race/scavenger hunt, which means no matter what's going on, the main characters have someone and something to work against. They're trying to beat the other racers, they're dealing with whatever's between them and the items they need to gather, so on and so forth. The book didn't need one specific antagonist because the entire situation was one enormous conflict. Unfortunately, I don't think I can apply this to every story I want to tell.
Working in various flavors of fantasy as I do, I tend to think of an antagonist in terms of a Big Bad, someone who's working directly against Our Heroes or someone whose work Our Heroes are seeking to thwart. The people I create for that role are never as interesting or detailed as the heroes, and this is one of the reasons my plots fall apart - there's just not enough opposition, nothing to keep Our Heroes from getting things done.
Or worse, I run into what I think of as the Marvel Movie problem. I create a villain who has a connection to the hero, is just developed enough to barely be interesting, and then kill them off. (Yes, as much as I love the Marvel movies, they really need to stop with the disposable villains.) And then I realize I'm doing that, and close up the plotting document, muttering to myself.
...now I'm thinking back to an assignment in my seventh grade English class, in which we read different works and identified the type of conflict they displayed, and how I could use that to keep myself from falling into the trap of always thinking there has to be a Big Bad. And now I'm wondering how I could have not thought of this earlier and put it to use in a way that could have solved this very problem.
(This is no longer a blog entry, it's now a therapy session. Funny, I didn't think I had one of those until Friday.)
Okay! So... I didn't go into this entry expecting to find the root of my own problem along the way. But, me being me, I'm sure this won't actually solve everything, it'll just give me more to work with. So, what about the rest of you? How do you develop whatever it is that's standing in your characters' way? And how do you make it work out with the rest of the story? I would love some advice so I don't fall back into my same old problems yet again. >_<