Currently listening to: The Anthropophagist Club, by Abney Park
Hello again! Or just “hello”, if you’re new to my blog! I didn’t post yesterday, did I? Well, that’s because I was busy finally finishing my submission for Pitch Wars! Yes, it’s finally done. So now I have until September 3rd (the day the mentee choices are announced) to sit and fret and wonder whether or not I’ll make the cut and end up among the lucky mentees for this year’s Pitch Wars.
So today, I do not want to talk about PItch Wars. Instead, I want to talk about one of my favorite topics: Villains.
As some of you might have seen in my Pitch Wars bio (that’s the last time I’m mentioning the competition in this post, I swear!), I like villains. All sorts of villains.
I have to admit, I’m not a very big fan of villains who turn out to just be really misunderstood, or ultimately good guys…I mean, there are some great antagonists that fit that mold, but I can’t count them as being “villains”, exactly. As soon as I find out that all they needed was a hug, or something, I can’t look at them as bad guys without having a little trouble with the idea. Maybe I sympathize with them, or maybe not.
I really love villains who really are villains. Vllains who know damn good and well that they’re doing bad things, but either don’t care or can’t afford to care.
Basically, I just really like villains. The more brilliant and devious and complex, the better.
But you know what I’ve learned? Villains like that are damned hard to write. There’s a certain line you have to walk, where your villain is fallible, but not so much so that they’re not a serious threat.
For me, I’ve got a few different villains in the works (TvTropes is going to help me a bit here, because I love that site and routinely find myself trapped there for hours):
- My current complete MS has a few different villains (I’d tell you who the real Big Bad is, but it would spoil the fun!). We’ve got sort of a Card Carrying Villain–one who’s just following orders, and is pretty amiable, all things considered. Then there are a few obvious foes–the ones really standing in the way of my protagonists and what they want. Through it all, though, there’s a bit of a wannabe Chessmaster. How successful that individual is (or isn’t) is up to interpretation. I’d say they get about 33% of what they were aiming for. The 66% he doesn’t get is…fairly important for him, though.
- I’ve actually got two projects that involve a bit of a Circus of Fear. Only one will probably survive to become a finished project, but they’re both very different, and very fun to write.
- A villainess who’s a bit of a Dangerously Genre Savvy, Chaotic Evil figure. She’s great. Also very, very good at killing.
- A Villain Protagonist Trapped in Villainy who’s up against a Master of Illusion and a Hero Antagonist who’s also kind of Trapped in Villainy. Most of the characters in this story are having a rough time in some way or another.
I like variety, obviously. But as I said: villains are hard to write well. Maybe it’s because they’re so dear to me; I want to do them justice. I want to create the kinds of villains I love to read in so many other works. And I’m not entirely sure if I always hit the mark; there have been some times when I’ve been absolutely sure that my villains were off, so I had to step back and restyle them entirely.
Then there are times when I realize halfway through a manuscript that one of my characters has been a villain the whole time even though it wasn’t a conscious decision. I love those moments.