Sunday, October 18, 2009

The State and Fate of a Villain

By: Sarah Hansen/Editor Faery Rose

Sporting a swirling cape and sinister mustache. Camouflaged as part of the team. Skulking in the background—human? Or not?

The villain plays a dark and important role. The villain himself (or herself) may possess their very own point-of-view. He may lurk as a menacing presence, foiling the best efforts of the hero and heroine to save the day (or night—it is paranormal month here at The Wild Rose Press) through the hero and/or heroine’s POV. His point is to help drive the plot, give cause to the story, to help force the hero and heroine to grow.

For a strong villain—a worthy opponent—this character, whether human or supernatural, needs some special attention and devlopment right along with the other characters in the story. A hastily contrived antagonist to throw a wrench in the works ends up quite obvious and a turn-off. Please don’t expend all of your creative energy on the to-be-happy couple. Don’t just call him sinister, make him that way. Being smelly and ugly doesn’t mean he’s evil. That just means he was blessed with poor genetics and needs a bath. Infuse him with actions and an aura that make the reader’s neck hair stand on end.

The villain can break a story as much as an ending that leaves you scratching your head. Don’t let your villain float. Give him a connection to the characters that truly makes it a feasible relationship. Random, ambiguous villains bug me as much as flat heroes and heroines.

Design the darker side to fit, meld, blend, to truly belong to the story as the heroine and hero belong. A villain needs a personality too. Strengths and weaknesses, quirks and flaws, maybe even the occasional redeemable quality.

Just make sure they can be defeated in the end.


Amanda Barnett Freelance Editor said...

Bravo Sarah!

I agree, if the villain doesn't do his or her part, then we lose some of the conflict. I personally love to see inside the head of the bad guy or girl.


Kelly McCrady said...

I agree with Amanda. To me, the villain does not see themselves as the villain--he or she is a real person with needs, desires, conflicts and valid reasons for the choices he or she makes. Irrational reasoning or just-off-center ethics are enough to make a chilling villain, in my mind!

Susan Shay said...

I totally agree, Sarah! I hate a villain who is simply 'evil' without reason.
I doubt anyone is born evil, and if they are, it's boring. I want to know why the bad guy is bad. (And from his pov, he can't think what he's doing is wrong. Bad, maybe, but in his mind it should be justified.)
One of my Blind Sight readers called it depth. I liked that.
Susan Shay

Beth Trissel said...

Good post. Oh my yes, we need our villains. My five ye old grandson prefers villains in the Disney movies he watches because he finds them more interesting, however, he expects them to be defeated in the end. Justice must win out. I love villains with more depth too. But some are just bad. There are people like that in this world.