Mary E. Knippel and I (Teresa LeYung-Ryan) presented a 45-minute session “Be Your Own Editor: Inject Your Manuscript with the 5 Ws and Core Themes” at last weekend’s San Francisco Writers Conference.

The first W (“Who”) – as in “Who is the Protagonist?”  And, “Who or what is the Antagonist?”

Who or What is the Antagonist in Your Story / Novel / Memoir / Book ?

For every Protagonist, there’s an Antagonist!

Antagonist is a character or a set of circumstances that threatens the Protagonist’s well-being OR the well-being of someone the Protagonist cares about.

Other powerful Antagonists are:

  • the Protagonist’s reaction to circumstances
  • the Protagonist’s own character flaw
  • something that threatens the status quo
  • illness or grief (including loss of an aspect of One’s self)

This is how screenwriter/screenwriting teacher Terrel Seltzer defines “what” is a great story.  She says:  “Someone we care about … wants something badly…  and is having a terrible time getting it.”

Coach Teresa here . . . “The Antagonist is the one who/which is causing ‘a terrible time’ for the Protagonist.”

Go through your manuscript; are you showing at least one of the antagonists within the first 5 pages?

Happy re-writing!






Teresa LeYung-Ryan   aka  22-Day Coach Teresa helps clients identify their themes and archetypes; she is the author of:

Love Made of Heart: a Mother’s Mental Illness Forges Forgiveness in Daughter Ruby (novel used in college courses)

Build Your Writer’s Platform & Fanbase In 22 Days: Attract Agents, Editors, Publishers, Readers, and Media Attention NOW (workbook for all genres),

“Talking to My Dead Mom” monologues

Coach Teresa’s website

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