By "ununderstandable" I mean that this character I'm thinking of isn't human. He's more of a devil sort of thing. Of course he still has his motivations, goals, etc, but he's more of a tool rather than a force in the story. He just wants his thing and has basically no emotions or humanity. He doesn't care about the main character or what happens to him, be it good or bad.

He's like the bus in that Sandra Bullock movie hah

Right now I'm in the planning stage. My question is 'Should the conflict include this "tool-character" and be something like "devil against man", or should I consider the conflict to be "the internal struggles of the actual character, which are caused by the tool-character's actions" ?'

Note: I'm fairly new to all this, so I try to grab on to concepts like conflict and theme to better understand how to write

  • Welcome to Writing.SE! How will the story be written? 1st/3rd person? The reason I ask is, if 1st person, the answer is pretty much given to you or you'll most likely start running into Point of View (PoV) problems. Mar 15, 2019 at 16:11
  • Just to clarify: you have the story in your mind, and you're trying to figure out its meta, that is what terms describe it, right? Mar 15, 2019 at 16:13
  • Yep, on both! I got the story and now I'm trying to figure out the concepts @Galastel Mar 15, 2019 at 16:15
  • I was thinking 3rd person, but knowing only as much as the main character knows @Pᴀᴜʟsᴛᴇʀ2 Oh and thanks for the welcome :D Mar 15, 2019 at 16:16
  • 1
    "3rd person, but knowing only as much as the main character knows" is called "3rd person limited". Since you're asking about concepts and terms. :) (It is a good thing to try and learn the relevant terminology. With the right terminology in hand, you can then find more useful information easier.) Mar 15, 2019 at 16:18

3 Answers 3



In every conflict, you will have the protagonist and the antagonist. Antagonist does not need to be human, or sentient, or even alive in any sense. For example, in Tom Hanks movie Cast Away, the nature itself is such a non-personified antagonist.

But personified antagonist works much better for any story. In your example, "Speed", we have such a person, a villain, no less, so the audience sees the bus as just a tool. If there is anyone human-like to blame in the story, audience will see that one as antagonist. In your story, if this demon-like being is the most personified force opposing your protagonist, he will be seen as antagonist and, consequently, a part of the conflict. If, on the other hand, there is a human villain, while the demon is more like Genie from "Aladdin", then you can focus readers' attention on that human character, while keeping the demon mostly outside of the conflict.

  • Did you mean "Antagonist does NOT need to be human, or sentient, or even alive in any sense"? Still, good answer! I suppose the best option would be humanizing the demon a bit.. Thanks :) Mar 15, 2019 at 16:59
  • @user5646514 on yes, thanks! And please note that it is advised to wait 24 hours to accept an answer to let people all around the globe to have their chance.
    – Alexander
    Mar 15, 2019 at 17:27
  • Oh ok, I'll keep that in mind for next time! Mar 15, 2019 at 19:21

Zelazny wrote a fascinating character who was a demon and a half cast spell. Said character had a need to know what and who he was, where he fit in the scheme of things.

Any sentient being can be understood by the reader. Sometimes the character is one who is so vast and complex, so old and foreign, that he can only be grasped by the other characters but never really understood.

Zelazny’s character was a tool with a purpose and personality.

If it were me, I would write your demon as incidentally in conflict with the MC - giving him about the same consideration as a bug underfoot or some rodent observed. The greater power of the demon will be an advantage, but the MC will have to use wit to prevail despite this strong competition - or fail.

  • Hm yeah this is the plan! The demon won't care at all about the protagonist, he'll just do his thing. He's pretty sure of himself, so I can't have him wondering about where and how he fits in. Thanks for the advice :) Mar 15, 2019 at 19:16
  • Zelazny’s demon was very young, so had his own coming of age story within the whole
    – Rasdashan
    Mar 15, 2019 at 19:23

Maybe have it both ways.

Have the protagonist view the tool as the antagonist when it actually isn't. This will waste some of the protagoinst's energy until they figure out who the real antagonist is.

It would be kind of like shouting at the wind for blowing out your candle when there is a panther stalking you.

  • Oh this is kind of what's gonna happen! The MC is gonna be concerned with something that was caused by the demon. That's why I got confused about the conflict - should it be the demon or the situation that the demon creates. Thanks for he tip :D Mar 15, 2019 at 19:20

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