Antagonist in picture books biography

While reading many picture books, I felt that one element is missing. The information about the character’s life fascinated me of course, otherwise, why would an author write a book about him/her. But, the Narration itself lacked an element that I couldn’t articulate.

Until I participated in a webinar by Sandra Nickel about writing picture book biographies. Sandra suggested during research, look for the Antagonists! And this was a eureka moment.

Those picture book biographies were boring because they paid attention only to the Protagonist (the person who the biography is about). Thus, the book reads like an information dump, not a page-turning story. A good story needs a strong Antagonist(s) as much as it needs a strong Protagonist. Because a biography should be 100% verifiable, we cannot create Antagonists as a writer can do in a story. We ought to dig out the Antagonist(s)! 

Sandra was right. The Protagonist is obvious. Search for the Antagonist(s)! When you know the Antagonist(s), you can build the tension around it and raise the story stake. Antagonists can be colleges (especially for women scientists), the ambiguity of nature itself (while discovering a mystery), society and anyone who discouraged the Protagonists, a physical or a mental disability, etc.

Types of Antagonists

The Stuff Between the Stars: How Vera Rubin Discovered Most of the Universe  2021 by Sandra Nickel (Author), Aimée Sicuro (Illustrator)  had multiple antagonists


The staff between the stars





Posted in Picture Book Biography, PictureBookPedia.

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