Skip to main content

Hello, writers. I ran across the following writing prompt on the interwebz the other day:

Write about the things your antagonist can't speak about.
Well, it struck me as more interesting than most of the Tonight's Challenges I've been able to think of lately, so I thought I'd write a nice little diary about antagonists.

Thing is, I'm never conscious of having any antagonists in my stories. So I thought, well, the “antagonist” is whatever obstacle the protagonist is up against, right? My protagonists tend to be struggling against stuff like societal restrictions, The System, or their own self-doubt.

A quick google showed me that no, those things don't count as antagonists. An antagonist is a person. (Or, at least, a being with some attributes of a person. Human, demon, talking rabbit, opinionated waterfowl, something of this sort.)

So my next thought was that conflict with the antagonist doesn't actually have to be the main conflict of the story.

And this I think is correct. But while googling around, I met two characters I'd never heard of, though no doubt some of you frighteningly-educated types have.

They are the deuteragonistand the tritagonist. Apparently they come from Greek drama. And Greek acting troupes actually had three principal actors who would always play these three main roles. The tritagonist was most like an antagonist.

According to wikipedia, the deuteragonist the second most important character... The deuteragonist may switch from being with or against the protagonist depending on the deuteragonist's own conflict/plot.
(If you now have Old Deuteronomy from CATS running through your head, I apologize.)

As for the tritagonist, wikipedia says that s/he

...may act as the instigator or cause of the sufferings of the protagonist. Despite being the least sympathetic character of the drama, he occasions the situations by which pity and sympathy for the protagonist are excited.
Now I am not so sure about this. It reminds me slightly of a very old writing book I read as a teenager which averred that a story always consisted of two people trying to reach a resolution and a third person trying to prevent them from doing so. Since I couldn't think of a single example of this in anything I'd read, I just disregarded that bit of reductionism.

But I guess this is something slightly different. It's formulaic, yes. But it's so loose that I wonder if it might be worth playing around with.

Tonight's challenge:
Write a brief scene containing a protagonist, a deuteragonist, and a tritagonist. Set it in/at one of the following places:
- a diner
- a Greyhound
- the workshop/living room/mountain fastness of the sinister and usually-off-screen Froop, mighty magical mentor of Togwogmagog
- a street in 18th century London, New York or Paris
- the North Pole
Try to limit yourself to 150 words.

Or, if you'd prefer a different challenge:

Write about the things your antagonist can't speak about.
Write On! will be a regular weekly diary (Thurs 8 pm ET) until it isn't.
Before signing a contract with any agent or publisher, please be sure to check them out on Preditors and Editors, Absolute Write and/or Writer Beware.
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site