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50 Questions to Ask Your Antagonist

50 Questions to Ask Your Antagonist

Antagonists are tricky. Too little work, and the antagonist comes across flat. A flat antagonist is easy and boring, because he or she won’t push the protagonist hard enough. Plus there’s that practice of making fleshed out characters and having interesting three-dimensional people, blah blah.

We all know the saying: Every villain is his own hero. Though I wrote these questions and prompts with famous antagonists in mind, you could actually pose them to your protagonist or other characters (just switch out the protagonist-themed questions for antagonist-themed) and it will still work.

I’ve always found it most helpful to answer questionnaires in my character’s voice, so I have written this addressing your antagonist directly. Try to answer in the way he or she would. You’ll uncover hidden backstory, depth, and softness in your antagonist.

But remember – even something “soft” (like empathy) can be a terrible motivator.

Your Antagonist’s Backstory

  1. Hurting people hurt others. What hurt you?
  2. When was the first time you were frightened by something you did?
  3. When was the first time you experienced pain?
  4. What is the most painful thing you have ever gone through?
  5. Do you have a mentor, or someone you’ve modeled yourself after? Who is it, and why are they so compelling?
  6. Have you killed anyone? Who was the first person you killed? (Alternatively: Who is the person you’ve hurt most?)
  7. When did you feel the most humiliated by someone else?
  8. Tell me about a time you faced rejection.
  9. Is there something you’ve said or done you wish you could take back?
  10. Who (or what) do you miss?
  11. What’s one thing you can never forgive? (Could be an event in the past, or a character trait like lying.)
  12. When did you feel the most accomplished or successful?
  13. When have you felt helpless?
  14. What was the first lie you told? What do you lie about most often?

Your Antagonist’s Habits

  1. What do you do to relax?
  2. Where do you go when you want to feel like you belong? If you can’t get there, where would you like to go?
  3. What do you like to read? What shows do you watch?
  4. What do you daydream about?
  5. What is your weapon of choice? How did you learn to use it?
  6. When you feel uncomfortable, what do you do to cover it up?
  7. What sort of clothes do you wear? Would you make changes to your wardrobe if you could?
  8. Do you have any unusual or advanced skills?
  9. How do you like to approach a problem?

Your Antagonist’s Personal Life

  1. Who are your parents? Do you have any siblings? Are they still alive?
  2. Who (or what) is one person (or thing/ideal) you would never harm?
  3. Who (or what) do you love? Would you call it love?
  4. What is one secret you’ve never told anyone? Would you consider revealing it to another character? If so, who?
  5. What lie do you tell yourself?
  6. What is one silly thing you’re afraid of?
  7. Tell me about your dream vacation.
  8. What is one fault in others you just can’t stand?
  9. What type of people do you like to be around (if any)?
  10. What do you feel other people misunderstand about you?
  11. Do you like kids? What about animals?

Your Antagonist’s Motivation

  1. Is your cause noble? Do you care?
  2. Do you consider yourself evil? Do you consider your plan evil?
  3. Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten?
  4. How do you react when something goes wrong?
  5. Do you have flaws? Do you know what they are?
  6. What do you want, more than anything?
  7. What do you actually need? Are you aware of the difference?
  8. What is a line you would never cross?
  9. Who (or what) would you save if you could?
  10. Do you have a choice about what you’re doing? Would you take an out if you could?
  11. If you were put in a room with your worst fear, what would you see or experience?
  12. How will you know when you’ve won? What does successfully completing your mission look like?

Your Antagonist and the Protagonist

  1. In what ways do you admire your enemy (the protagonist)?
  2. In what ways does your enemy (the protagonist) drive you nuts?
  3. What’s one thing you and the protagonist can agree on?
  4. If you were the protagonist, what would this story be called?

Have I missed an important question? Want to share some of your answers? Leave a comment below!

4 Comments 6407 Views


  1. Omg this is SUCH an amazing resource!! I totally need to work on my character development (all characters…but villains is a good place to start. ;D I do love my villains) so thank you for creating this!!
    Thanks for stopping by @ Paper Fury!

    1. Glad you liked it! I had a lot of fun pulling all the questions together. 😀

  2. […] Source: 50 Questions to Ask Your Antagonist – Alyssa Hollingsworth […]

  3. character envelopment is the thing that I would describe myself as being strongest in, as far as writing goes. This resource definitely helps me look at some of my newer characters that I’m making, and this is an excellent resource.

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