Wombat Books Blog

Wombat Books blog is the place to keep up to date with all the goings-on in the world of Aussie kid's books.

Shaping your antagonist with T.M. Clark

TMClark updated headshot for blogCan you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you've been in the industry for?

It is 20 years now that I have been actively involved in the writing industry. From the moment I wrote my first article that sold...it has gone so fast! It was a pipe dream when I left school, and though I wrote about three chapters longhand of a Mills and Boons at the beach, it was put in the drawer and the dream forgotten. Only after I had my kids and lived in England did the dream resurface, and I'm so glad it did! I can't imagine my life now without all my story characters in it.

Describe your typical work desk.

Messy — seriously — drives my hubby crazy. I seem to always accumulate paper! But generally I know where things are in the mess and that does his head in more.

Who's your favourite antagonist?

The one I didn't kill, MaNtuli (from Tears of the Cheetah). She has to come back and be as diabolical as she can be in another book.

What makes a great antagonist in three words?

Love to hate.

Can you describe one of the antagonists you have placed in a story before? How were they 'antagonistic'?

The dictionary describes an antagonist as 'showing or feeling active opposition or hostility towards someone or something'. So going back to MaNtuli, she isn't hostile towards a specific thing or person, but if you get in the way of her own agenda, you're in trouble. She doesn't do anything to harm the hero or heroine's journey, but manipulates the people around her to do that for her. Once you know her, you actually feel sorry for her, and in your empathy towards her, you can easily forget that she is the main antagonist in this story.

Is an antagonist always what people perceive? Or are antagonists sometimes a surprise?

For me, my antagonists are not a surprise — you know from almost the get-go that they are the baddie in the story. I would love to write a book with a surprise antagonist, but I think that would be fairly difficult. In saying that, the journey of the antagonist could sometimes be surprising, and the amount of empathy you feel towards someone so horrible can take the ready by surprise. For example, in My Brother-But-One, Rodney is the antagonist. However, I had a reader send me an email saying to him, Rodney was the centre of the story.

Describe your workshop for the Wombat Books Conference.

How to have fun finding your villain/antagonist. As much as we all love the superhero, the antagonist is just as important as they make you love the heroic deeds of the protagonist more. By building a supervillain, you can make the reader love your hero even more, so my time will be spent making sure you have the ying-and-yang of these characters and the balance is there to make them become real 3D characters in your reader's mind.

You can book your tickets to T.M. Clark's masterclass now! Click on the link below for more information.

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The First Chapter with Kate Forsyth

Kate Forsyth minCan you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been in the industry for?
I've been writing as long as I can remember. I wrote poems and stories from 4 onwards, and my first novel when I was 7. I was 16 when I first tried to get published, and 30 when I managed it. This year is my 22nd year of being a published author, and my 44th book will be published in July.

Describe your typical work desk.
I have a study at home. It's looks out on to the garden, is painted pale green, and is lined with book and art. My desk usually has a cup of tea, my diary, the notebook for whatever book I am writing, my glasses, assorted pens and pencils, and a pile of books. I also keep a collection of poetry books on my desk, to browse through whenever I am stuck or waiting for my computer to power up.

What first chapter of a book hooked you the most?
Any book that I've actually read. If the first chapter fails to hook me, I put it down and find a better book.

What makes a good first chapter?
A powerful first line. Instant immersion into the story. An engaging and believable voice.

How do you go about writing a first chapter? Do you usually write it first or last?
I always write it first - but I don't begin writing until I have a strong sense of my story's shape and voice, and my characters have come to life in my imagination. And it will be rewritten many times.

How important is the first chapter when submitting a manuscript to a publisher?
Utterly crucial.

Describe your Wombat Books Conference workshop.
It's a full day workshop, with the morning spent discussing what makes a brilliant first chapter and then the afternoon working on your manuscript. Everyone will get 10 minutes one-on-one time with me to talk about their project and what problems they are having. Everyone needs to bring their fist chapter, plus coloured pens and highlighters. Hopefully it will be a really interesting & informative day!

 

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