Increasingly as I write this novel, I've noticed that one of its more interesting and challenging aspects is that it is the first novel I've written that features a male protagonist and a female antagonist. The Soldier's Cross has a female protagonist and a male antagonist; the Sea Fever books have a male antagonist and male and female protagonists; and Tempus Regina has a female protagonist and male and female antagonists. So I guess having gone through just about every other permutation, a male protagonist and a female antagonist in Wordcrafter was inevitable. All the same, it's presented some new and unexpected problems -- especially as this rewrite finds the villain darker, more aggressive, more dangerous. In contrast, Justin, my main character, is, well, a nice guy: a hold-the-door-for-you, carry-your-bag fellow.
Playing these two characters off one another is great fun, but it's also somewhat sticky business. Justin's personality, as well the book's potential readership, rules out certain actions and reactions between them; whereas Tip is free to punch Lewis in the face, and whereas Regina can vent her spleen by dressing down her (female) rival, there is a code of conduct which Justin is obliged to follow. The villain, in turn, knows it and capitalizes on it.
Sharply, I said, “You can’t hit a woman, Ethan.”
He flicked aside my concern as I had just flicked away his. “No,” he allowed, “and one often senses them taking advantage of the fact.”
This kind of situation demands a unique relationship between protagonist and villain. On the one hand, the female antagonist in many ways has the upper hand; her arsenal is packed with weapons Justin can't or won't deploy. On the other, the protagonist can't be milquetoasty, doing nothing simply because the villain is a woman [because a) that makes for a boring story and b) is super annoying]; he has to find new weapons to use. Writing in that tension is, I'm finding, quite difficult, but it also makes for some very enjoyable, thought-provoking character dynamics.
what are some of your protagonist-antagonist pairings? which ones have been especially challenging or fun?