How To Write Characters Who Hate Each Other (5 Techniques)

In this post, we discuss ideas surrounding a reader's question: How to write characters who hate each other?

After determining a story's plot, you want to create characters who are two opposing forces, that "hate" each other. This is most easily recognized by the character roles, antagonist and protagonist.

There are no general rules for how an antagonist should behave, act, or think. What's important is that the audience recognizes the antagonist as "Other" when they experience the story through The Hero they've identified with.

5 Tips on How To Write Characters Who Hate Each Other

The following is a list of techniques and tips on how to write characters who hate each other.

Mold the Antagonist

The antagonist is essentially the character whose motives inherently get in the way of the protagonist's goal.

You can also make the antagonist a force of nature, where the protagonist is clearly in a situation they hate and need to overcome for their own safety. For example, in the movie Joker you can consider "society" to be an antagonist. The protagonist has every reason to hate society because society has always mistreated, neglected, and abused him.

On the other hand, if the plot involves a fantastical event like the end of the world, you can introduce an antagonist who only cares about himself and is unconcerned with society or disasters.

Only you, the author, can decide how many antagonists you include and what issues they bring up for the narrative.

Your antagonist can be a monster, a specter, or any other fantastical creature because literature has no boundaries for the imagination.

The audience must understand the dichotomy

Both the protagonist and antagonist must evoke emotions and feelings in the audience.

Typically, a good antagonist has the ability to unnerve the audience, and evoke feelings of pity, fear, disgust, rage, injustice, etc.

On the other hand, the protagonist usually evokes more positive feelings, such as justice, duty, hope, love, etc.

One of the best ways you can indirectly make your antagonist somebody who is easily hateable to your audience and protagonist is by asking yourself:

How much better and wonderful would the world be if the antagonist didn't exist?

The more "wonderful" the world would be, the more treachery the antagonist must've inflicted on the world. This is a good measure of how hateable your antagonist is.

The protagonist and antagonist don't have to be moral figures

There doesn't have to be any clear moral alignments or juxtapositions.

For example, a corrupt, cop is after a poor freedom fighter who needed to steal food to keep his tribe alive. The cop is dead set on capturing the freedom fighter because they let his sister die in a fire when she could've survived with a moment of help.

In the example above, there is no one to actually side with. It's messy and you can empathize (emotionally connect) with either side.

You can also make the protagonist go through a transformation during the plot and side with the antagonists. Although it is not an easy task, it is fascinating to carry out this narrative because readers witness the characters' changes.


Take away what's dear to The Hero

In every story, there is a Point of No Return that The Hero must go through.

This can most easily be achieved by having the antagonist do something so heinous, that the audience and protagonist have no choice but to hate the antagonist for what they've done to The Hero.

Give the antagonist a backstory

You can narrate from the antagonist's point of view for a chapter or a few pages to reveal their weaknesses. The reader can relate to his reasons, suffering, or love for that flaw. The antagonist in the story is not exempt from his fears and experiences. You don't need to make the readers feel sorry for the antagonist for devoting this effort to explaining to him; you can describe the character as you understand him.

He doesn't have to pass away; keeping him alive will make a later part easier to understand. It would be best if you previously considered how the story would end. It must be justified whether he dies or survives. The plot will be more engaging if the protagonist wins some battles but loses the war. You can also do this if you want evil to win. Since you are the author, decisions about your work are made by you.

Here are resources I recommend to get more in-depth knowledge

Storytelling 101 teaches you how to write compelling stories worthy of commercial success. This is best for screenwriters, novelists, filmmakers, videogame writers and storytellers.

Children’s Books 101 teaches you how to write stories that children will love. This is best for aspiring children’s book authors and storytellers.

Owl AI is the revolutionary AI-powered content production platform that helps storytellers, writers, and bloggers of all subject matter easily create highly-polished content.

Success, Money & Mindset Subliminal is a self-hypnosis recording that we recommend to new writers to help with focus, concentration, creativity, and motivation.

Shadow Work Journal: 240 Daily Prompts contains inner work exercises related to relationships, anger, anxiety, self-love, healing trauma, abandonment issues, depression, forgiveness, etc.


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