I was watching an advert last night when the idea for this post popped into my mind. One of the characters was called Ryan, and he reminded me, by name alone, of my antagonist, Rion.
Yes, I talk of him a lot, but, for no true reason, he stays in the forefront of my mind, teasing, leering. He leers a lot.
In some ways, I still don’t truly understand him. That’s the way with antagonists, isn’t it? Even when they are people themselves, they do not reveal themselves as much as the ‘good’ guys; Aidelle and Phillip were always the chatterboxes, even when they had a dysfunctional relationship. I know everything about those two, their likes, their dislikes, their fashion-choices and household decorations.
But Rion? Nope. He doesn’t discuss such insignificant things.
Perhaps I find him fascinating because he’s so like me: in ways, closed in and silent. We shove away our emotions and look for determination elsewhere.
Yes, I despise Rion, but he has easily become one of my favourite characters to write – tight sentences, no need to use the word ‘felt’. Rion won’t reveal even to himself that he has been hurt; instead, he looks for the productive way out of emotion.
Rion has more secrets than I like to divulge – some of them are wound in the fabric of the novel. However, he also has some, his genesis, that are part of his person, rather than his mystery.
For instance, did you tag that ‘Rion’ has links to the constellation Orion? Not originally, but one of the reasons I changed his name from the typical spelling was because of the connotation of the warrior always fighting. –ion sounds a lot more sophisticated than –yan.
Another reason was that the name was too…this reality. With Phillip and Aidelle, my antagonist needed a twisted name, too. But I wasn’t going to change Peter’s name. I’ve seen too many ridiculous variations on that.
But why ‘rye-un’? I didn’t originally choose the names for their connotations or their meanings, though those have always been a large part of my editing. So, I chose his name for its phonemic values – for the way it sounds. Even now the y has gone, ‘Rion’ has quite a harsh tone to it, commanding in a way, but without the regal superstition that variations of ‘Phillip’ have. Too, one might argue, the second syllable lacks the sharpness of its first, but has a weight, a gravitas drawing people towards or away from the character. Perfect for an antagonist.
In some ways, Rion is Apollo, not for his god-like status – or, perhaps, his own self-lifting of god-like ideas – but for his concealed heart. Rion’s shutting himself away. Why? Because he’d been hurt before. Psychology and observation tell me that if you push someone so far, the straw will break their back (to borrow an expression) and the beads of revenge sprout up. A Type A personality, like mine, is inspired to the skies of ambition. If anything gets in the way between the ambitious and the ambition, anger can spark and set off the fire. That’s Rion most of the time.
The Unseen Rion
This subtitle is appropriate; there is so much of Rion we do not see. Sure, we readers get a taste of Rion through the four chapters from his perspective and through my WIP short story, but it’s clear that Rion gets up to a lot behind the scenes that even I do not know about. With the disgusting blackness of society, around every corner are despicable acts; I don’t doubt that Rion engages in these ideas that nowadays would be illegal.
Long story short, it’s not about what he does when we see him; his nastiness and cunning is shown a lot more through what we will never see him do. He uses people beyond the cast for his own dirty needs, though that is hinted at.
Too, his opinions – his hurt – are mostly concealed from the readers, even when we see through his eyes. Although I could have difficulty writing an unreliable narrator, Rion’s enigma is as unreliable as it gets – he’s so self-centred with his ideas that he has no way to change or give others the truth.
But that’s antagonists for us, right?