Thursday, October 09, 2008

Doing the Nasty

Villains are a fun bunch. Every writer I talk to thinks so. I find them devilishly hard (pardon the pun), because my tendency goes to taking the villains I create and turning them into heroes in their own stories. It's actually very good advice from wonderful writers to make a villain a hero, because really, who exists to be evil just for evil's sake? Certainly not any characters I really want to invest in, yanno?

On the other hand, I love reading about villains turned around. Reformed rakes, former screw-ups, cowards who find courage, and cheapskates who loosen their coinpurses. I'm always the one asking why the bad guy thinks the way he does, and more importantly, if the love of a good wo/man is enough to straighten him out. I am continually half-hoping for sequels to books with good, complex, meaty villains just so I can see them change into potentially great human beings, or at least redeemed ones.

Something I don't care for is the tendency to use the shorthand of sex to make villains villainous. You know what I'm talking about--the villain is the one who's got a non-vanilla sex life, and there's always at least one episode of skanky villain sex to create the stark contrast between the down and dirty nastiness versus the oh-so-pure-unicorn-farts sex that the good guys are having. Now, if there's a reason for villains to be having "on-screen" sex, then fine, build it into your story. But if there's just sex in there to up the skank factor, you're probably better off skipping it, because I sure will as a reader. Sometimes less is more.

As a writer, I try hard to make my characters--all of my characters--believable and sympathetic in the sense that even if you hate them, you can still sorta see where they're coming from, and how someone could end up in that position, however unenviable it is.

2 comments:

Savanna Kougar said...

Xandra, interesting. I don't think I've thrown in the random skanky sex scene for the villain. Not that I can recall, anyway. Not that I haven't used as fa urther definition of character. Yup, I have.

Skylar Masey said...

Xandra~

Now that I think about it, I have seen alot of skanky villain sex! I never noticed it til now, but I think it's the writer trying to show how vile the person is by how they act during such an intimate moment. Usually a one-on-one moment is also a great place to have the villain be nasty.

Here, here for your last paragraph! I think writers (not only in novels) are getting better at showing the reasoning behind a villains' demeanor and actions.