Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Does Genre Dictate the Level of Description?

   I've been reading books for almost sixty years now, starting with the typical dog and horse stories for children, then graduating into historical , science fiction and finally, fantasy. The one thing I've noticed after thousands of books, is that the amount of description varies depending on the genre. This makes complete sense if you think about it.
   For me, the more words in a book the better. This is one of the reasons I love fantasy and science fiction. A true fantasy is based on a world totally different than our own with creatures and landscapes never seen before. I'm a visual reader, so the more description provided, the better the picture that forms in my mind as I'm reading. The same applies to stories based on space travel. I've never experienced space or the feeling of approaching a new planet for the first time. Fill me up with the sights, sounds and smells so that I can experience it.
   On the flip side, if I'm reading a mystery, thriller or romance set in our present day world, very little description is needed. If I haven't actually visited a place on this earth, I've probably seen enough TV shows or movies to form a pretty good image without a lot of description. Just let me know the story is based in New York, Southern California or the Great Plains and not much more is needed.
   Don't get me wrong, I am not a fan of info dumps. Character driven stories are what I like best, but keep filtering in little tidbits of description throughout the narrative to help me form a complete mental picture.
   There is not a lot of description in the following scene from my fanfic because, let's face it, after thirteen books, the reader should have a pretty vivid image of the world. There is just enough description to highlight things that have changed and to place the reader in a specific place.
   Thanks for reading!

Now that Alanna knew when Lan was planning his attack, she needed to hurry and inspect the borders of Kandor and Arafel before returning to Rand. Having spent the last couple of nights inside the wagon, she knew it well enough to open a gate to a small stand of trees about a league west of Chachin, the capitol city of Kandor. The skies here were darker here than anywhere else she had been. The underbrush showed no signs of life and the trees were dry, bare skeletons, their branches hanging limp. Littering the ground were the bones of small animals who had called this spot their home. As she hurried away from the death and decay, she couldn’t stop brushing her hands against her skirt in a vain attempt to wipe away the evil she felt.

The time for secrecy was past so she removed the weaves that hid her features and her ability to channel. Alanna knew that there were Aes Sedai with the army camped around the Capitol and they would be the best source of information.

She strode, unchallenged, through the rings of sentries surrounding the camp and after receiving directions from a young officer, approached a large isolated tent. A privacy weave had not been raised since she could hear voices from inside the tent which meant she wouldn’t be interrupting. In a normal voice she announced, “Alanna Mosvani of the Green Ajah. May I enter and speak with you?”

A moment of silence from within, then the tent flap was thrust aside revealing a tall, fiery haired woman with a boyish figure, a multitude of freckles and wearing a dark green dress.

“Alanna!” she exclaimed with a smile lighting up her face. “It really is you. Light be praised! It’s wonderful to see you again. Please come in. We have been in the dark for so long, hopefully you can separate truth from rumor for us.”

Alanna relaxed and returned her smile, “Candance, what a relief to find a friendly face. I will tell you what I can but my time is short. I was sent to assess your situation and report back quickly.”

Entering the tent she scanned the faces of the women gathered inside. It appeared that every Ajah was represented by at least one woman. Graciously accepting a chair and a cup of tea handed to her by a young Yellow, Alanna relaxed even further as she recognized every Sister there and none were on the list of suspected Black Ajah that the Amyrlin had been circulating.

“To avoid wasting your time and mine by asking me questions I might not have answers to, I will tell you what I know to be truth. The White Tower is whole again and Egwene al’Vere was properly raised as Amyrlin. She chose Silviana Brehon of the Red Ajah to be her Keeper of the Chronicles. Let me assure you, Egwene may be the youngest Amyrlin the Tower has ever had but she is no one’s puppet. She has already defeated one of the Forsaken in a direct confrontation and managed to un-mask the Black Ajah. I will see that the list of known Black Sisters is sent to you. Also, Rand al’Thor, along with Nynaeve Sedai, cleansed the male half of the Source which means we no longer need to fear men who can channel. The Dragon has gathered all the armies of the south and plans to send them to the areas of the Borderlands which are in greatest need. Possibly as early as tomorrow he plans on traveling directly to Shayol Ghul , break the remaining seals and confront the Dark One.”

 Alanna paused to take a sip of her tea and wait for the Sisters to absorb what she had just told them. She knew they would have questions even though she had asked for none.

Candance glanced at the other Aes Sedai, stood up brushing her skirt and then cleared her throat. “Alanna, my old friend, we are here because we disagreed with the Tower’s intention to guide and control al’Thor. The Prophesies are clear. The Dragon must be free to fight this battle in the way he decides. We believe that the Aes Sedai will only play a supporting role in the upcoming battle. So, how can we assist you in accomplishing your mission?”

Alanna saw nothing but determination in the faces of the women around her and a real desire to help.

“I have heard that some of the Watch Towers north of here have gone silent. Do you have any estimate of the number of Trollocs moving south or when they might attack the Capitol?”

A few of the women lowered their heads while several raised tea cups to pursed lips, but none would look her in the eye. A moment passed in awkward silence as Candance sat down, then answered Alanna in a quiet voice.

Heath Tower, which is about halfway to the Blight, was the last tower to be heard from and they went silent last night. None of the other towers have reported in days. We’ve opened small gates by several of the towers to send out scouts but none have returned. We could see Heath Tower in the distance and it had a column of smoke rising from the top. The other towers appear dark and deserted.”

Alanna surged up out of her chair, threw her cup to the floor and glared at every one of her fellow sisters. “Why has no one traveled to Heath Tower to bring men and supplies or at least check for survivors? How can you sit here and do nothing when you know that men could still be alive out there?”

“Alanna Mosvani,” Candance fired back. “Do you think we would just sit here if we could do something for those men? I am the only one of us strong enough to open a gate and then it’s only large enough for one person. The Queen decided it would be a waste of lives to try and send men through one at a time.”

Scorn dripped from her voice as Alanna surveyed the room. “Have I discovered a tent full of Novices? Since when do Aes Sedai listen to the whims of a Queen. Bloody ashes, Candance. There are enough of you to link and form a full circle which would enable you to open a gate large enough for a full squad of men to pass through.”

Earlier she had felt Rand move to a spot not far to the south which meant that he was at the Fields of Melinor and would need her report before meeting with the rulers gathered there. She was running out of time.

“Candance, I don’t have the time to sit here long enough to learn this spot so you will open a gate for me as close to Heath Tower as you are able. I will do what needs to be done from there. Set up two poles on the west side of your tent and I will use them when I return.”

Since Alanna was stronger in the Power than anyone else present, Candance had no choice but to obey. A small gate opened in the center of the tent and Alanna strode through into an area of desolation with signs of the Blight already beginning to show. Heath Tower sat on a slight rise just to the north of her with a faint wisp of smoke rising from the top but no flames that she could see.

Before the gate had closed behind her, she began the weave to travel to the top of the tower. At the faint rustle of dried grass she started to spin around but froze as the blinding pain of two, cold steel spear points burned their way into the small of her back. As she collapsed, the last thought before darkness over-took her was, ‘I have failed him’.


Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Add a Little Humor

   I have always enjoyed reading stories with a little humor mixed in. Too much drama and eventually I feel mired in the emotion and the story becomes depressing. Too much tension and I feel I can never take a breath or I might miss something.
   Injecting humor, especially after an emotional or intense scene, gives the reader a chance to catch their breath and lift their mood before continuing on to the next scene.
  Humor also adds dimension to your characters, who without it, become boring and predictable. A protagonist who can poke a little fun at himself or others, becomes a character I can identify with. The antagonist who can crack a joke in the middle of his evil plans, is more interesting.
   In this week's scene from my FanFic, Perrin and Faile are winding down from a fierce argument when Perrin invites his friend Gaul into the tent.
   Thanks for reading, and as always, this just reflects my opinions on writing.

                                                                *          *          *

   With a deep sigh, Perrin put his arms around her and held her tight. In a quiet voice he began to share his painful thoughts.

   “From the moment Rand, Mat and I left the Two Rivers, the Shadow has been trying to kill us or break us. The Pattern has been using that to shape us and make us stronger. I can barely face the pain of losing my entire family, many of my friends and the terror I felt both times I thought I might lose you. I know you don’t like Mat because you think he is disrespectful and a scoundrel, but remember I can smell emotions. What I sensed from Mat was stronger and more confusing than anything I’ve ever sensed before. Not only was the pain of loss so powerful, but it felt ancient, which doesn’t make any sense. It was as if there were a hundred different men in front of me, all feeling the same intense sorrow. I think his flippant attitude is his way of dealing with so much pain.”

   “Never forget, Faile,” he continued. “Mat and I have an important role to play, but only Rand has the power and the knowledge to face the Dark One. If the Pattern has been using pain and sorrow to mold Mat and I into what is needed for the Last Battle, I do not want to even try and imagine what Rand has been subjected to.”

   A change in Faile’s scent made him look down into her dark eyes. The love and compassion he saw there was at complete odds with the anger and fear that was rolling off of her in waves. How do women manage to do that? Her scent was so prickly he wanted to touch his nose to make sure there was no blood.

   “Light woman,” he growled. “Did you think this was a contest between the three of us to see who would become the most powerful? Mat and I are here to support Rand in any way possible. I will do whatever is necessary to help Rand in the upcoming battle. If that means sacrificing my life or the lives of those with me, then so be it.”

   Taking a step back while still gripping his arms as hard as she could, the fire flared back up in her eyes as she gazed up at him. “So be it, Husband,” she said quietly. “You do whatever it is you feel you have to do and I will do whatever I have to do to make sure you live through it.”

   As the fire in her eyes changed to that which made Perrin’s blood warm, she purred, “How else are we to present grandchildren to my mother? How many did she say she wanted? Six, wasn’t it. You certainly don’t want to disappoint my mother now do you?”

   Perrin had to turn away to hide the smile that formed on his face. If he didn’t put a stop to this pretty soon, Faile would start talking about feeling as forward as a girl at harvest time and they would never get out of the tent in time.

   “You can come in now, Gaul. It’s as safe in here now as it will ever be.”

   As Gaul parted the flaps and entered the tent, a sniff from Faile told Perrin, without looking, that she knew what he had been thinking and wasn’t amused.

   “May you always find water and shade, Perrin Aybara.”

   “May you always find water and shade, Gaul. Is everyone ready?”

   “All are gathered and waiting outside, even the Wise Ones,” Gaul answered.

   Something in the way Gaul spoke of the Wise Ones made Perrin pause and look at his friend.


   “As you know, Perrin Aybara, the Aiel as a people consider themselves to all be equal. With the exception of the Clan Chiefs, Roof Mistresses, and Wise Ones, all Aiel treat each other with the respect and honor they expect from others. The Wetlander concept of Kings, Queens, or Lords and Ladies who feel they are entitled to respect only because of who their parents are, makes no sense. However, there is one among all the Aiel who is given more respect than any other. It is whispered that when Sorilea, Wise One of Shande Hold, walks the Three Fold Land, even the fierce Sand Lions bow their heads and leave her unmolested. My father once told me that as a small boy, he remembers Sorilea coming to meet with the Wise Ones of his Hold and she looked the same then as she does now. A wise man would do well to walk softly and treat that one with all the respect he possesses.”

   Pausing to see if his words had any effect on Perrin, he continued. “She is waiting outside to meet you.”

   Perrin shrugged his shoulders. “I will treat her with as much respect as I’ve given the other Wise Ones.”

   “That’s what I’m afraid of,” Gaul muttered.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

I Love Emotion in Stories

   As promised, I'm sharing another scene from my fan/fic. I may have already shared this at one time, but that's okay, I love this scene and the emotions in it. Hope you enjoy it also.
   For those of you who might be interested, I'm finishing up the last chapters of my novella, "The Path of Exile' and should have it ready for beta readers in a couple of weeks. I'm not entirely happy with the title, so you might see a change there. I've made some progress on my epic fantasy, "The Eyes of the Deluti" and will get back to it full time once the novella is done, so expect some new chapters on Saturdayscenes soon.
   Thanks for reading.

Her thoughts soon turned sour again. Blasted mood swings! She would find a way to make bloody Rand al’Thor pay for the difficulties she’d been experiencing because of her pregnancy. It wasn’t totally his fault but she would make him pay regardless. It was also entirely possible that her mood was being influenced by the pain and despair seeping through the bond from Birgitte. Something was eating at the soul of her friend and Elayne cared too much not to try and help.

“Bloody ashes Birgitte! Will you please sit down and talk to me. I haven’t been able to get more than a few words out of you all day. I can feel the conflict inside of you and it will destroy us both if we can’t find a resolution.”

Birgitte snorted as the faraway look fled from her eyes. “Such language from a Queen. You’ve been spending entirely too much time around soldiers Elayne.” Then in a quiet voice she continued, “Especially a soldier like me.”

Elayne said nothing. The look she gave Birgitte spoke volumes as she pointed to a chair opposite hers. She had assumed the mantle of Queen now and would brook no more nonsense.

“You will not like what I have to say Elayne,” Birgitte murmured.

“I don’t like seeing my dearest friend suffer like this either, so I will just have to find a way to deal with it,” Elayne replied.

She waited patiently as Birgitte struggled with what she needed to say. A flicker of fear began to dance around in the back of Elayne’s mind as the suspicion of what her Warder wanted flared to life.

“You want me to release you from the Warder bond,” she whispered. “Why?”

Taking a ragged breath, Birgitte slowly walked over and sat in the chair facing Elayne. Hands tightly clenched in her lap, she looked up and saw her tears reflected in the eyes of her beloved friend.

“In all of my previous lives, I have never had a sister. You have shown me what I never knew I’d been missing. You have given me a precious gift Elayne. Not only by saving my life but also the gift of the love for a sister. You will always have a special place in my heart.”

“I don’t understand,” Elayne cried softly. “I need you now more than ever. Please don’t ask me to do this.”

“I must.”

Springing up out of the chair, Birgitte began pacing back and forth. She had never been comfortable sitting while trying to marshal her thoughts.

“Do you understand what I am Elayne?”

“Of course. You are Birgitte Silverbow, heroine of the Ages. She who never misses what she aims at.”

“No Elayne. That is who I was and as long as I’m your Warder that is all I’ll ever be. But that is beside the point. What I am is a hero tied to the Horn of Valere. I must be available to answer the call when Mat blows the Horn at the Last Battle.”

Unable to hold back her tears, Elayne struggled to control her voice. “What are you saying Birgitte? Do you want to die?”

“No one wants to die,” Birgitte murmured as past memories of death rose up to haunt her. “But I am afraid. I shouldn’t be here Elayne. Moghedien ripped my soul out of the World of Dreams and thrust me into the world of the living. Her intention was to see me die the final death and I would have if you hadn’t bonded me, giving me a link to this world. I have felt the Pattern twisting itself around trying to fit me in.”

Stopping at the side table where one of the servants had thoughtfully left a pitcher of wine and a pitcher of goat’s milk, she poured herself a cup of wine and after a moment of indecision, poured another one for Elayne. The Queen wasn’t supposed to have anything other than goat’s milk during her pregnancy but Birgitte felt they both needed something stronger.

Returning to her chair, she handed the cup of wine to Elayne and at her questioning look Birgitte smiled, “I won’t tell if you don’t.”

“Why now?” Elayne asked.

“It seems that one of the requirements for being a Hero of the Horn is sensitivity to the needs of the Pattern. Maybe that is why so many of us are born over and over, each time accomplishing something important. Gaidal and I have lived more lives than any other because we are the most sensitive to the Pattern. Yesterday I became aware of what the Pattern requires of me. Somehow I am now tied to Mat. If I am not with him he might die and the Last Battle will be lost before it ever begins.”

“Birgitte, I know that Mat blew the Horn of Valere and he seems to have a certain flair for fighting but Rand is the one who is destined to battle the Dark One and save the world.”

Birgitte leaned forward and gripped Elayne’s knee, her braid of golden hair falling from her shoulder. “Think Elayne. Even if that too handsome man of yours manages to seal the Dark One back up in his prison, what then? Will the hundreds of thousands of Trollocs just roll over and die? Will the Seanchen shake their heads, disappointed that they missed the Last Battle, climb back onto their boats and head for home?”

“Of course not. We have one of the largest armies ever assembled along with the greatest military minds of this age. We will deal with the Trollocs first and then push the Seanchen back on their ships whether they want to go or not.”

Bounding out of her chair, Birgitte resumed her pacing. How to make Elayne understand? Her need to find Mat had become almost painful. It was like an itch she couldn’t scratch. The worst part was she knew she couldn’t do anything until he returned from his insane quest into the Tower of Ghenjei. That would have to stay a secret for now but maybe he would forgive her for revealing just one of his many secrets.

Her eyes glazed over as she remembered the desperate, blood soaked battles many generations in the past. “I fought and died several times during the Trolloc Wars Elayne. It took many lifetimes before they were finally defeated. Your armies are impressive but from the number of Trollocs rumored to be massing at the border, they will roll over your armies like a storm flattens a field of young wheat. Your armies are too fragmented with different loyalties and agendas. You must have one Marshal-General in command of all the armies to have a chance. Who will you choose? Toward the end of the war when all looked lost, one man stepped forward. He rallied the nations together and fought with cunning and a certain amount of luck until they finally drove the Trollocs back across the border.”

Coming to a stop in front of Elayne, her body quivering with emotion, their eyes locked.

“That man was Mat.”

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sharing My Writing

   When it comes right down to it, I'm a writer. For better or worse, this is what I've dedicated the rest of my life to. I won't lie, while making a little money from my stories would be welcomed, the major reason I write is for my own enjoyment. I share scenes from my two WIPs in Saturdayscenes and on wattpad (when it's working) to get a feel for how others react to my writing. But my favorite writing is a fanfic I started, based on a world and story that has become a part of my life. This story will never see the light of day because of copy write issues, but that's okay since I'm writing it for me. Even though I spend most of my time writing on the two WIPs, this story is always playing in the back of my mind, and will eventually be put down on paper.
   I've decided to share some scenes from that fanfic here on my blog so you can get a feel for the kind of story that moves me. If you're familiar with the story, I'm sure you will recognize the characters, and if not, I hope you will enjoy it anyway. Thanks for reading.

   Rand and Min proceeded to cross the short distance to Perrin’s camp, flanked as usual by twenty Maidens of the Spear. Several of the Aes Sedai decided to accompany them along with Flinn the Asha’man and Bashere. After yesterday’s meeting with the fiery Queen Tenobia of Saldaea, Rand was not surprised when Bashere found any number of reasons to stay close to him and avoid another confrontation with his Queen. The revelation that the Lord and Lady, who the Queen had left in charge of Maradon, were actually Dark-Friends, prevented Bashere from receiving anything more severe than a tongue lashing.

   One more day before his confrontation with the Dark One and Rand was worried. There were so many things still left to do. The Black Tower could not be ignored and the Seanchan were still a threat to the south. Rumor indicated that the old Empress was dead and the Daughter of the Nine Moons was now Empress. After their last meeting, he doubted that she would ever grant him another audience. Hopefully they would have their hands full fighting Trollocs. He had no doubt that the Shadow would bring as many Trollocs south through Waygates as possible rather than concentrate all of their forces along the Blight.

   What concerned and confused Rand the most was the fact that Mat was gone. For months now, all he had to do was concentrate on his two friends and visions of Perrin and Mat would appear to him. It must be the result of their ta’veren nature and being so closely tied to the Pattern. It made it possible for him to open a gate so close to Perrin’s army because his vision told him exactly where his old friend was. He knew that Mat was in Camylin as late as yesterday, but today nothing. Rand felt sure he would have noticed a change in the Pattern if Mat was dead so the only explanation was that he was now in the hands of the enemy. So many of his plans would change if that were true.



   “Where is Mat?” mirroring his own thoughts. “Shouldn’t he be here to join you and Perrin? You don’t think he is dicing in some tavern somewhere, do you?”

   “No Min. Mat has his moments but he knows I need him and would be here if he was able.”

   Min stopped to look up and study Rand’s face and the concern that was evident there. “Alright sheepherder, something is going on that you’re not telling me. You are more worried about Mat than you let on, and what do you mean ‘if he was able’?

   “I don’t know and that’s what worries me. For months now I have been able to sense Mat and Perrin in the Pattern, but as of this morning I can no longer sense Mat.” He noticed the questioning looks of their escort at the delay and continued. “Come, let us go meet Perrin and Faile. Maybe they can shed some light on what happened to Mat.”  

   They were close enough now that Rand could see that Perrin still had his beard that surrounded a large smile and had an impressive hammer resting on his shoulder. Even at this distance, Rand saw that this hammer was different than the one Perrin had the last time he saw him. Faile stood next to him with a fierce expression on her face, ready to spring forward to protect her husband. She still didn’t trust Rand and since he had almost killed Perrin when they parted last, he couldn’t blame her. Next to Faile, stood an attractive woman in a regal gown with a stern faced soldier just behind, wearing the uniform of Ghealdan. She must be Queen Alliandre, who Perrin had been sent to contact.

   On Perrin’s other side stood probably the most beautiful woman in the world. Of course Rand would never voice that opinion within hearing of the other women in his life but he knew that all men had a hard time taking their eyes off of the First of Mayne, Berelain sur Paendrag. He wasn’t surprised to see a Whitecloak attending her since he didn’t think there was a man alive who could resist her. What did surprise him was the number of Whitecloak tents he could see pitched along with the rest of Perrin’s army. Rand couldn’t wait to hear the story of how that came about.

   As he turned to comment to Min, he was just in time to catch her before she collapsed. Her eyes were unfocused and wide with fear and uncertainty.

   “Min! What’s wrong? What do you see?”

   He stepped in front of her to block what she was seeing and pulled her into an embrace, then held her tight until she looked up at him with tears in her eyes.

   “Oh Rand! My gift has failed me. I don’t think you can ever trust any of my viewings again. They were the one thing I could count on to help you. If I don’t have those, what good am I to you?”

   All he could do was hold on and laid his chin on the top of her head as she sobbed into his chest. When the sobbing became sniffles he held her out at arm’s length and spoke softly so that only she could hear.

   “Min, look at me. You should know by now that you mean much more to me than just your gift. It has been very helpful in the past but it’s who you are that keeps me going, not what you are. Don’t you understand that it was your love for me and the love of Elayne and Aviendha that gave me the strength to overcome the darkness that threatened to consume me. Now, please tell me what you saw whether you believe it possible or not.”

   The golden veins of his love pulsed through the bond they shared. His eyes burned with a fire that warmed her on the inside and filled her with the strength and resolve to ignore her doubts. She took hold of his arm, turned him around and started walking.

   “Alright farmboy. This is what I see. Like you, Perrin now has the threads of people’s lives tied directly to him instead of the Pattern. Not only the ones he has gathered here but also the Borderlanders, a great many Aiel and an army of Seachan will follow him. Yet there is one other even he will answer too come the last battle, and it isn’t you. Berelain will marry the young Whitecloak she is standing next to, who just happens to be your brother. Last but not least is Perrin’s hammer. Since I can only see the possibilities of a life that is tied to the Pattern, the fact that I see images of a wolf sheltering a cub tells me that the hammer is somehow alive. Now, Rand al’Thor, you tell me how any of these viewings could possibly be true.”

   They continued to walk slowly toward Perrin and Faile as Rand stared straight ahead, mulling over what Min had just told him. He had promised her he would no longer keep anything from her. He believed what she had seen and knew them to be true. She deserved the truth.

   “Min, what you see has just confirmed what I’ve come to believe. My purpose in the upcoming battle will be to seal the Dark One back into his prison. Perrin and Mat will be the leaders of the people in the fight against the Trolloc hordes. Even if I am successful, humanity could still be erased from the face of this world without their leadership. Do you realize how many of the Prophesies we have been studying are not about me at all, but about Perrin and Mat. “When the Wolf King carries the Hammer, thus are the final days known.” Perrin is the Wolf King and he now carries the Hammer. During the War of the Shadow, the most powerful weapons were forged using both the male and female halves of the Source and required the sacrifice of someone’s life to complete it. Perrin’s hammer is such a weapon. I can sense the power in it from here.”

   He paused for a moment, took a deep breath trying to embrace a totally new emotion, and then continued in a whisper. “The Whitecloak next to Berelain is Galad Damodred, step-son of Morgase Trakand, Queen of Andor, and he is my brother.”

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Thoughts on Antagonists

   Antagonists come in all shapes and sizes, and sometimes aren't even a thing you can see or touch.
They are something or someone that interferes with your characters ability to achieve his/her goals or desires. The antagonist can also be determined by the genre you choose to write in.
   For example, Fantasy normally involves a clearly defined evil being introduced early in the story, who is plotting to destroy the world, or subjugate all races under their rule. The protagonist's role then is to eventually defeat this evil. Conversely, a well written mystery will keep both the reader and the main character guessing until the end. The purpose is to keep the antagonist hidden while providing clues in the hopes that he will be un-masked at the end.
   Often in literary fiction, we find that the antagonist can be an idea or emotion. Such as the story of parents dealing with the emotion of losing a child, or widows who have banded together to deal with the loss of their husbands. Maybe a small community is divided by the idea of changing the direction of their town. One side wants change, and the other desires to keep things the way they are. Neither side is right or wrong since it's the idea that's the antagonist.
   Sometimes I wonder if the popularity of romance is that the antagonist can be any or all of these things. Anything that prevents the romance from progressing can be seen as the antagonist, be it a person, an idea, or even a physical location.
   As a reader, I want to see the characters grow by learning from their mistakes, fail and keep trying, and eventually reach their goal. Your characters will never achieve this growth without an antagonist to thwart their every move. Minus the opposition, a story becomes like a newspaper article, a listing of the persons involved, and the facts pertinent to what happened. A story with no beginning, and no end.
   I'll be the first to admit that I lack the intelligence or deviousness to write a mystery. I have written several short literary fictions, but the emotions involved make it difficult for me. Fantasy is where I find the most pleasure and comfort because of the simple "good vs. evil" theme.
   I firmly believe that if you want your story to resonate with readers, an antagonist that fits your genre is a necessity. How well you present this will make or break your tale.
   As always, this is just my opinion and thanks for reading.