In literature, a competitor is a character who opposes the protagonist or other characters, often creating conflict and driving the narrative forward. The competitor can be a rival, antagonist, or any character who challenges another character’s goals, adding depth and complexity to the story.

How Writers Use Competitors

Writers use competitors to:

  • Create Conflict: Introduce challenges and obstacles for the protagonist.
  • Develop Characters: Show different facets of characters through their interactions with competitors.
  • Advance the Plot: Drive the narrative forward through competition and rivalry.
  • Highlight Themes: Explore themes such as ambition, jealousy, and morality.
  • Engage Readers: Keep readers invested by adding tension and excitement.

Types of Competitors

RivalA character who competes with the protagonist for the same goal.Draco Malfoy in Harry Potter
AntagonistA character who actively opposes the protagonist.Darth Vader in Star Wars
Love RivalA character who competes for the affections of the same person.Jacob Black in Twilight
Professional RivalA character who competes in a professional or academic setting.Antonio Salieri in Amadeus
Sibling RivalA character who competes with a sibling for attention or inheritance.Edmund in King Lear

Rules of Competitors

Clear MotivationEnsure the competitor has clear and understandable motivations.
Balanced PowerBalance the power dynamic between the competitor and protagonist to maintain tension.
Character DevelopmentDevelop the competitor’s character to make them more than just an obstacle.
Conflict ResolutionPlan how the conflict between the competitor and protagonist will be resolved.
Thematic RelevanceMake sure the competitor’s role is relevant to the main themes of the story.

Examples of Competitors in Different Media

Competitors in Literature

Harry Potter SeriesJ.K. RowlingDraco Malfoy as Harry Potter’s rival at Hogwarts.
Moby DickHerman MelvilleCaptain Ahab as the obsessed antagonist competing against Moby Dick.
Pride and PrejudiceJane AustenMr. Wickham as a rival to Mr. Darcy for Elizabeth Bennet’s affection.

Competitors in Children’s Books

MatildaRoald DahlMiss Trunchbull as Matilda’s oppressive rival.
The Lion, the Witch and the WardrobeC.S. LewisThe White Witch as the antagonist competing against Aslan and the Pevensies.
Percy Jackson SeriesRick RiordanLuke Castellan as Percy Jackson’s rival and antagonist.

Competitors in Poetry

The Rime of the Ancient MarinerSamuel Taylor ColeridgeThe Mariner as the internal competitor against his own guilt and fate.
Paradise LostJohn MiltonSatan as the competitor against God and mankind.
The IliadHomerAchilles and Hector as competitors in the Trojan War.

Competitors in Songs

Smooth CriminalMichael JacksonThe antagonist competing against the protagonist’s peace.
StanEminemStan as a competitor for Eminem’s attention and recognition.
Bad BloodTaylor SwiftThe rival depicted in the song’s narrative of betrayal and conflict.

Competitors in Movies

Star WarsDarth Vader vs. Luke SkywalkerDarth Vader as Luke’s ultimate rival.
RockyRocky Balboa vs. Apollo CreedApollo Creed as Rocky’s boxing competitor.
The Dark KnightJoker vs. BatmanThe Joker as Batman’s chaotic antagonist.

YouTube Links:

  1. Star Wars – Darth Vader vs. Luke Skywalker
  2. Rocky – Rocky Balboa vs. Apollo Creed
  3. The Dark Knight – Joker vs. Batman

Competitors in Advertising

I’m a Mac, I’m a PCAppleDepicts Mac and PC as competitors.
Pepsi vs. CokePepsiAd campaigns highlighting the rivalry between Pepsi and Coca-Cola.
Burger King vs. McDonald’sBurger KingAd campaigns showcasing the competition between the two fast-food giants.

YouTube Links:

  1. Apple – I’m a Mac, I’m a PC
  2. Pepsi – Pepsi vs. Coke
  3. Burger King – Burger King vs. McDonald’s

FAQs about Competitors

What is a competitor in literature?

A competitor in literature is a character who opposes or rivals another character, often creating conflict and driving the narrative forward.

How does a competitor differ from an antagonist?

While all antagonists are competitors, not all competitors are antagonists. Competitors can be rivals or opponents in a variety of contexts, not just as villains.

Can competitors be used in all types of writing?

Yes, competitors can be used in various types of writing, including literature, poetry, songs, movies, and advertising, to create conflict and engage readers.

Why are competitors effective in writing?

Competitors are effective because they introduce conflict, develop characters, advance the plot, highlight themes, and engage readers.

Related Devices


A character who opposes the protagonist and creates conflict within the story.


A character who contrasts with another character, usually the protagonist, to highlight particular qualities and traits.


A competition between characters that drives the plot and develops character relationships.


A struggle between opposing forces, which can be internal or external, driving the narrative forward.


A literary device that creates a sense of anticipation and anxiety in the reader about what will happen next.