Occasionally, a simple sentence has considerable impact. For me, today, it was author Brent Hartinger saying in a Cynsations interview: For a story to be engaging, the antagonist must be more powerful than the protagonist. More powerful. I had never thought about it quite that way. Yes, I know the antagonist must be strong and in the main character's way, causing obstacles and tension and maybe even life-and-death situations, but I hadn't correlated that power-wise.
Hartinger said the imbalance of power forces the main character to change and grow or be destroyed. And that makes absolute sense.
So I thought about books where that is obvious or not-so-obvious. In Lord of the Rings, Frodo is way out of his league against Sauron, or, for that matter, even the Nazgul. Frodo may be reluctant at first but he grows into the realization that he must find the strength or his entire world will be lost.
In Susan Straight's A Million Nightingales, the antagonist is the entrenched system of slavery in Louisiana. That would be overwhelming for any slave, let alone a young girl sold away from her mother. In this case, the main character endures and finds a way to replace the family she's lost.
Any thoughts on this? Or is this so obvious to everyone that you're rolling your eyeballs? I can almost hear a chorus of duhs. Well, it spoke to me, and if that helps my writing gain power, that's all I can ask.