As I’ve observed the actions of antagonists in movies, novels and the real world, I’ve noticed a progressive pattern of tactics they use against anyone who dares to thwart their plans. I call it the “Ten I’s of Antagonism.” Why ten? Because it’s a nice, round number. Why “I’s”? Because nothing beats a good heuristic. I trust these tactics will help you plot out your villain’s nefarious plans. And to put you in the right mood, I’ve written them as if I am advising your antagonist personally.
1. Ignore: This is the simplest way to deal with a challenge to your supremacy. Ignore the threat, and more often than not, it will simply go away.
2. Intimidate: If the annoying pest refuses to back down, it’s time to take off the kid gloves and let him know who he’s really messing with.
3. Invite: Undaunted by your threats, you almost have to respect his chutzpah. So instead of squashing the little bug, recruit him. Make him an offer he can’t refuse. Everyone has a price. You just need to find his.
4. Insult: If it turns out the sucker has morals to match his backbone; your next option is to ridicule him, preferably in public. Who does this pipsqueak think he is to refuse your offer? Look at this pathetic individual. How dare he even think to oppose you?
5. Infiltrate: While you’ve got him distracted trying to salvage his reputation, now’s the time to gain access to his inner circle, ideally by distracting him even further with a femme fatale who can win his trust and steal his secrets.
6. Incorporate: Now that you’ve stolen his best ideas, it’s time to make them your best ideas. By the time they’re out in public, it’ll be too late. And with his reputation damaged, if your opponent does cry foul, no one will believe him.
7. Isolate: This is a natural consequence of everything you’ve done so far. But you can exacerbate the situation by using your femme fatale to sow further seeds of suspicion and discontent amongst your opponent’s closest friends and allies, perhaps even having her reveal her own complicity with you in order to disillusion him even further.
8. Incriminate: Now that you’ve got him on the ropes, it’s time to engage in a smear campaign par excellence. This time it isn’t about embarrassment; it’s about bringing charges so serious that even the act of denying them makes your opponent look guilty.
9. Incarcerate: With his reputation in tatters, and no one willing to befriend him, never mind defend him, your opponent is hauled off to jail, exiled, or otherwise removed from the community. Best of all, you hardly had to lift a finger. You merely supplied the goods, and the legitimate authorities took care of the rest thinking they were acting in the best interests of the community. Machiavelli would be proud.
10. Incinerate: Preferably, you should refrain from doing this right away or else you run the risk of making him a martyr. Let him languish for a while until people have all but forgotten him. Perhaps deprivation or neglect will do him in. If not, you can always take a more active role in your opponent’s demise. If you don’t think you have the stomach for this sort of thing, hire someone to do it for you. But make sure they finish the job, because after all the effort you’ve put in, you’d hate to see things fail at this step. And I can’t tell you how many times I have seen it fail. Just when you think you’ve won, your opponent rises from the ashes even more powerful than before.
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