Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Seven ways my antagonist is way tastier than a cookie…

Meet Morpheus, aka His Royal Mothiness

One of the most important things to instill in your antagonist is layers. You want to keep him/her from being cliché, aka: a cookie cutter bad guy who’s like all of the other desserts at the buffet. Here are seven ingredients that I'm hoping will set my naughty hotty in Splintered, the mystical Morpheus, apart from the other cookies:

1.      He has wings.

Granted, there are lots of faerie stories where the bad boy has wings. But the way Morpheus “got” his wings is a bit different. Not to mention he uses them for more than flying. At any given point in the story they might become: a shield, a cape, a weapon, shade from the sun, and lastly and most fun, a means of seduction. Hee

2.      He thinks he’s a rock star. Could be because he bears a stunning resemblance to a smokin’ cult phenom: Brandon Lee’s The Crow, or because his wardrobe and swagger is inspired by Jareth from The Labyrinth. Maybe it's both.

Image by Heather Love King

Whatever the case, he has no self-esteem issues. In fact, he’s downright arrogant and narcissistic at times. But it only makes him more loveable; just ask him. ;) 

3.      He has unique quirks. For one, he collects moths by the thousands. Not only living ones, but moth corpses to embellish his hats. Which leads to his fashion obsessions. Morpheus, despite his obvious masculinity, is a bit effeminate in his retro-renaissance fashion choices. He’ll take a crushed velvet suit with lacy cuffs over a pair of jeans and t-shirt any day (thank you Jareth). Here’s an example of something he might wear on a casual afternoon strolling around Wonderland:

Amadeus, eat your heart out.

4.      He dabbles in dreams. This characteristic actually inspired his name … well, there’s one other contributing factor, but you’ll have to read the book to discover it. Heh. The Morpheus in Greek mythology is the god of dreams and has the ability to take any human form and appear in someone’s sleep. His true semblance is that of a winged daemon. All the more reason for my bad boy to have wings.

5.      He has a  hidden soft spot for the heroine. It makes an appearance from time to time, but he tries to cover it up with self-adulation and snarky remarks aimed at the heroine's best friend/secret crush, leading back to point #2:

6.      He’s the master of weaseling deals through word manipulation. Like most fae-related creatures, Morpheus has a penchant for word wizardry: he takes everything said as literal, and twists it this way and that, making it mean what HE wants it to mean.

7.      He has fears. The most important thing in the world to Morpheus (other than Wonderland itself) is his freedom. Nothing terrifies him more than being bound and powerless. This is something he has in common with the heroine, Alyssa, which makes their relationship all the more complex, especially when her freedom threatens his own.


I've found in books I read that the layered villains/antagonists -- the ones with a variation of ingredients -- are the most affecting. Maybe because when they’re humanized and given relatable motivations and fears, I’m taken to that place of personal introspection … where I question if I were in a similar situation, would I take on the same characteristics and make the same choices? Often, I even start rooting for those antagonists in spite of my disdain for their actions, hoping that they’ll somehow redeem themselves in the end.

Have you given your antagonist any redeemable characteristics? Any personal quirks to intrigue or inspire the reader’s sympathies? The best books not only have fully developed heroes/heroines, but antagonists too. Because who wants a dessert buffet loaded with nothing but stale sugar cookies?

Thanks for stopping by, and have a great rest of the week!


  1. Sounds fascinating!

  2. I love reading about your antagonist! I can't WAIT to get my eager fingers on a hard copy. When's it coming out again?

    I have dual antagonists. The really, really bad one has few redeeming qualities. Maybe I should take another look at him. Hmm.

    Great post, Anita.

  3. Now HOLD UP!!! Morpheus is NOT the antagonist!!! NOOOOO! LOL He is a hottie and what he does for Alyssa is the best ever because of his Narcissism. You know what? Morpheus is a fae (and hotter) House (tv show), which must be why I love him. LOL

  4. Your antagonist sounds SUPER tasty. Love it :D

  5. I love the "hidden soft spot." Those are my favs, the emotionally indestructable ones with the Achilles heel that happens to be a chick :)

    Although... I am a big fan of cookies too.... :)

  6. You're such a tease! Can't wait to read your book!

  7. Mmm...Morpheus.
    Elegant yet so devious.
    Desirable yet selfish to the core.
    I hated him--I loved him.

    You mastered the perfect desirable bad boy.

  8. Three things:

    1. Morpheus sounds AWESOME
    2. I am DYING to read SPLINTERED
    3. Morpheus sounds AWESOME, wait...did I already say that?

    Great post my dear, I seriously can't wait to read this I know it's going to be beyond amazing. Love and hugs :)

  9. Mandie and Jane~ Thank you! He is fascinating, in a can't-turn-away-from-the-impending-train-wreck sort of way. LOL

    Mary~ I appreciate that. :) You have a bit of a wait. It's coming out in Spring 2013. Just enough time to get the buzz going strong. Heh. Your antags sound pretty darn interetsing themselves. Esp the REALLY bad one.

    Jessie~ LOL! Of course you would jump to his defense, you BBL. But, you make a valid point. Maybe he's actually the anti-hero. How about that? Hee

    Lori~ That means so much coming from someone who draws the best hotties ever and posts them weekly on her blog to make me drool! :)

    Mindy~ Mmm. Me too, girl. Me, too.

    Cherie~ Heehee. Thanks sparkles. :)

    Bethany~ I remember at one point you wanted to KICK HIS BOOTIE. ;)

    Kerri~ Awww. You ROCK. Your support is so appreciated, twinkie gal. :)

  10. This comment has been removed by the author.

  11. I removed that post because I got so excited I realized I gave something away.

    (smacks hand) Bad, Bethany!!!

  12. UGH!!!
    I cannot WAIT to read this book!!

  13. Bethany~ LOL! No probs. I read what you'd put and it wasn't giving away too much. It probably would just have intrigued readers even more. LOL

    Ashley~ And I can't wait to hold it in me little hands! LOL. Thanks. :)

  14. Wow, what a vivid and detailed character! I can tell I'm probably going to be rooting for him when I read your novel. Is that bad? :)

  15. How about Hero?? *hint, hint*


  16. Meredith~ Haha! No, that's not bad. In fact, you won't be the only one. One of my beta readers crushed on him pretty bad. Her comment's up above (Jessica). :)

  17. I agree with Cheri, 2013 is way too far away! Can't wait to read about how wings can be seductive. :)

    I just had to yell. Can I use screamers, too? Okay. !!!!
    Can't wait to read this story.

  19. Anita - we share so much loves---The Crow, the goths, the dark and there a list to be your beta for Splintered? ME wants.

  20. I love dark and mysterious badboys ;o) It sounds like you put a lot of hard work into creating your characters, and obviously, that work has paid off. I can't WAIT to read this book! ;o)

  21. My antagonists have a teeny tiny spot of good or vulnerability, just to give the reader a reference. Sometimes it is hard to catch but that just makes the chase more dramatic.

  22. T.S.~ Aww, thanks! It does seem like forever away. But it will no doubt be here before we know it; especially once I start the edits. Heh. Oh, and those wings were WAY seductive, yes ma'am they were. YUM.

    Pony Girl~ YAY!! Screamers!! Thanks pal. :)

    Anne~ LOL. Yes, I seem to be accumulating a beta list for this one. But now that it's w/the editor awaiting changes, I'll probably have to stop the beta reads on this one. There's always the "dear" girl book! Hee.

    Angela~ Hi cutie! I can't wait for you to GET to read it. :) And yes, I spent a lot of time getting to know these characters. Could be that's why I love them so. Even the naughty ones. Heh

    Huntress~ Oooh, I like that! Having to search for the goodness/vulnerabilities. That makes for a fun read. :)

  23. ahh... great post, and super-good point. My villain has reasons. They're not particularly good ones, but they work for him~ ;o) Sounds very cool that his freedom is linked to Alyssa's~ <3

  24. Leigh~ Haha. I love this line, "they're not particularly good ones, but they work for him." That's perfect! The motivations don't have to appeal to us, all they have to do is make sense, whether in a warped way or logically. Sounds like you've captured the layered bad boy! :)

  25. 1. I have an absurd and undying love of winged men. This started when I was a child and fell in love with Warren K. Worthington III. I am still not over him. I will love him forever, dammit!

    2. That winged dude picture makes me want to lick him.

    3. All that other stuff... yeah. I love this guy. Tasty.

    The "bad guys" are always my favorite characters, and I delight in giving them motivations and quirks that make them as understandable as the "heroes". I cannot WAIT to meet this guy.

    (I am blog catching up because now my site is safe. Phew. That was a serious Saga of Fail...)

  26. Katey~ YAY on getting the blog fixed! I'll drop by sometime this weekend and say hey. Oh, and sounds like, as so often happens, we're on the same wavelength. That winged dude in the top picture makes my mouth water, too. Bad boys are soooo yummy. I can't WAIT to meet some of your naughty hotties. ;)

  27. Morpheus sounds like a fascinating character. And I agree about giving villains something for readers to relate to. I LOVE a villain I can sympathize with. :)

  28. Can't wait to read more about this guy!! Of course you're right-- your antagonist absolutely must be sympathetic! I had a big job with my book, in trying to give the "evil stepmother" some redeeming qualities. I chose to make her sympathize with the heroine on some secret level, gave them a common childhood history, and stressed the insecurity of her own life that lead her to mistreat the heroine in the first place.

    Even the evil stepmother had issues. :)

  29. I want to read your book just to get to know Morpheus better! He sound yummier than Ax! Awesome post :)

  30. Janet~ I'm the same way. Give me a sympathetic villain and I'm hooked. Thanks for stopping by!

    Stephanie~ Wow, your book sounds so awesome! I can't wait to get to read it!

    A.M.~ He's a yumster. Hee. Now, who's this Ax of which you speak? LOL

  31. I'm new to your blog and I love what you have done with the place! This post is great- it made me smile and it was unique. I'll be back for more.

  32. Fresh~ Thank you, sir! :)

    Summer~ Welcome to my blog, and thank you so much for the lovely comments! I like your blog too. Fairies are some of my favorite fare, as you can see. :) So nice to meet you!

  33. Yes, he sounds amazing! No wonder you got a book deal :D.

  34. Um, oh my God. He sounds TOTALLY HOT. I can haz Splintered?!

  35. Yes, Baby H. You can HAZ it. Do you want to wait for the ARC so it will be all pretty and bound in book form?

  36. DKJSdhfjksslkjkl! Yes! I will put it in my #goatshrine. Because, er, I'm not creepy at all.

  37. Aw, my ARC would LOVE to live in your #goatshrine. But you'll have wait until it makes the rounds. I'm reserving that one to be passed through the #goatpopulous, so you can ALL have a read! But, I could let you be the one to keep it once the reads are done (since you're the youngest ... yeah, that's a good reason). ;)