The bad guy. Or girl.

The opposing force, forever throwing obstacles in the path of the hero or heroine of your latest blockbuster.

The Adversary.

How do you make that character – it needn’t even be a person – as menacing and powerful as it can be?

How do you ensure that it causes maximum distress to all it comes in contact with?

A good place to start is with the exercise I’ve set out, below. I’ve dubbed it “Samara’s Ring,” because it came about as a result of my analysis of the horror franchise “The Ring,” and its main adversary, Samara Morgan.

It goes like this:

Samara’s Ring: A Tool for Generating Distress & Villainy

Adversary: The Bad Guy (or Whatever)
Describe the adversary in a brief phrase, like “revenge-driven ghost”, or “flesh-eating zombie.”
Describe him / her / it / them, in physical terms.
What are its origins?
Describe any special attributes or skills that he / she / it has.
What are its grievances?
What agenda [hidden, or otherwise] does he / she / it have?
In what way(s) can he / she / it be defeated – or at least, slowed down?

Advocate: The Willing or Unwitting Disciple
Does the adversary coopt / collaborate with / force anyone or anything [an advocate] to help him / her / it achieve its ends?
If so, describe the advocate, in physical terms.
Describe the advocate’s origins, or personal history.
What skills or attributes make him / her / it of use to the adversary, eg. “morbid curiosity”, “Can’t say No?”
What skills or attributes work in opposition to the adversary?
How does the adversary make use of the advocate?

Antagonism: Conflict, Anguish, and Villainy

What are the physical effects of the adversary’s work?
What physical impact does the adversary’s work have on the other main characters?
How does the adversary cause them physical / psychological / social / emotional distress?
The adversary is “winning.” How does the world look?
eg. “There’s a new President, and she’s one of the alien invaders.”
“The virus has overrun the continental United States.”

Now. Look at the results you’ve come up with, and get nasty. I mean, really. Put your characters through the grinder. Have fun with it.

Until next time.