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Bob Nailor

Blurred Lines

Yes, a kicky tune by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. And, no, I won't get into the political legalities of the song.

What I want to discuss is "blurred lines" in writing. For some reason, most people feel that writing is a straight forward, simple process which only requires that one put their butt in a chair and type.

If only it were that simple!

What are blurred lines? Is your character a villain or an antagonist? As you will discover, they are NOT one and the same. But first, let's look at the definition:

Villain: Noun
1. a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.
2. a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.

Antagonist: Noun
1. a person who is opposed to, struggles against, or competes with another; opponent; adversary.
2. the adversary of the hero or protagonist of a drama or other literary work

That's right, start thinking back over the books you've not only read but those you've written. Do you have a villain or an antagonist?

In a series I'm writing, I have a villain, but I've discovered I also have antagonists. An antagonist could be a close friend to the hero and actually play the part of "devil's advocate" to some extent, questioning every move.

In my released novel, Pangaea, Eden Lost I considered a couple of characters to be the villains. Now I realize that they are the antagonists. I don't have a "real" villain but there is one character who might fit the bill. Unfortunately I can't tell you who these characters are without ruining the read and I'm not about to do that!

Don't think that I'm about to let you go, yet. Consider hero and protagonist. Are they one and the same? I doubt it.

Protagonist: Noun
1. the leading character, hero, or heroine of a drama or other literary work.

Hero: Noun
1. a man of distinguished courage or ability, admired for his brave deeds and noble qualities.
2. a person who, in the opinion of others, has heroic qualities or has performed a heroic act and is regarded as a model or ideal: He was a local hero when he saved the drowning child.
3. the principal male character in a story, play, film, etc.

Note: Heroine is the same as hero, just the opposite sex. I don't want to slight.

The definition of a protagonist is simple. The one for hero/heroine becomes a little hazier. Well, at least until definition number 3 which clarifies everything sort of. You can have a hero in your novel who is not, I repeat, NOT your main character. I know that sounds like a complete contradiction but read the definition of hero again, especially numbers 1 and 2. Notice it did not say it was the main character only definition number 3 ties it back to the main character.

Consider this scenario. A knight, well-known for his heroic exploits has a young squire who is our lead character, our protagonist. In time, the squire will move toward hero standing but until that time, the knight is the hero.

Talk about blurred lines. Do you see how characters can slip-n-slide through the story as different types?

Now is the time to evaluate your characters. Are they heroes or heroines? Maybe they are not really a hero/heroine just yet, but definitely the protagonist. Is your villain really a villain or perhaps more of an antagonist? Now is the time for you to truly define your character beyond the stereotypical generic "hero" and "villain" we've all been taught. Fine tune your character.

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