When I wrote the first draft of my book, I decided to include an antagonist’s story line, that is to say, a thread of the book from the perspective of an opponent, and not just people the main character has to deal with in her story. The two characters never meet, never know each other’s names, or come within a hundred miles of each other. I included the story line for two reasons.
First, it allowed me to explore more of the world. The main character is fairly parochial in her view point, and does not travel far from home during the course of the story. She learns a lot, but she can’t learn everything I want the reader to know. The antagonist, being removed, well-traveled and experienced, could provide more of the framework the heroes are working against.
Second, his actions during the course of the book allowed me to toss a wrench into the main character’s story line, and to do so logically, without a feel of deus ex interruptus.
This worked for the 1st and 2nd drafts, though I must admit I was never quite happy with the actual wrench being thrown in. When I started working on the 3rd draft, where I cut the book in half, I put the antagonist’s story line to the side. I wasn’t sure (and I’m still not) that I would have room for it, and what kind of wrench he would throw into this one. He would provide more of a world view, which in the long run may decide the issue.
Now that I’m nearing the end of this draft, I’m coming up on the point where I have to decide if I want to use his story line or not. The first reason, world building, certainly still applies. And I think the ending could use a wrench-toss to spice it up, make it more interesting for the character to overcome. On the other hand, I’m not sure how long the book is going to be, and an extra story line could add too much. And there is the aspect of writing a story where the reader learns alongside the character, reducing the chance of an information overload and surprising the reader along with the character.
I’ve got a tentative deadline of the 31st to finish writing this draft, so less than four weeks to decide if the antagonist stays or not. Stay tuned!