Sympathetic Baddie

d1/80,000 words

As I am writing the conflict scene that closes out act 2 of my 3-act novel, my protagonists are coming face-to-face with the antagonists for the first time, which is giving me the opportunity to have the antagoist justify himself somewhat. I think it is important to do this for realism — make sure he remains believable. However, I am nervous about making the distinction between good and bad ambiguous by over-justifying the antagonist’s actions. It so happens that I had good reasons for him to act the way he is acting, and anyone else in his shoes could well be driven to the same things. I have made him extreme to be sure, but when the fate of the human species hangs in the balance, who wouldn’t go to extremes?

I need to spend some time thinking about the right way to balance this to make sure the villian does not become sympathetic. I have a few options: I could leave some of this motivation out, clouding him behind a generic ‘evil’ nature. That could work. The next option is to just dedicate a few more words after, either in inner dialogue or conversations, where the characters can pick apart what the antagoist said, so I have the opportunity to keep it cast in the right light. The last option is to bump up the extreme nature of the guy, taking him from cruel to evil. If I make him cross more ethical lines, it might clear things up even easier.

This will be a problem for draft 2.

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