Friday, October 10, 2008

Mwahaha!

I'd never heard the utterance above until I met my bf. In AIM, I typed, "What's that supposed to mean?" He said, "It's an evil laugh." Duh! I'd just heard it come out of every villain's mouth in one way or another! Though I don't always sit here when I'm trying to write mean and dirty going, "Mwahaha! Mwahaha! I'm going to get you, my pretty." Usually I have to do a one-eighty on my "perfect" world, since as you know every great book should only spiral down into a vortex of hurt/pain/tragedy...so the end is fabulously heroic and love triumphs all!

We each have our ways to villainize characters, even when they're based on ourselves. I mean aren't I a villain for saying no to my bf's suggestion of a restaurant if it's his night to choose, or if I cut someone off? Wouldn't I be a villain if I don't donate money to charity, or if I found money but didn't return it? Okay, so none of this is way bad...like root of evil stuff. But it can be the building blocks. For instance if I wanted to show what a rat my villain was why not use all that stuff? Of course, somewhere there it'll have to get physical, and I've seen my share of low blows on WWE wrestling. (Though I still say, "What happened to a fair fight and morals?")

I think the most important thing for a villain to be is SUPER bad. Sure you can have a baddy, but he generally will only be labeled a henchman. Mwahaha...my bad guy kidnapped a kid and held it for ransom! Not that's a bad guy, but what if he kidnapped a kid knowing it had an illness, then put the meds out of reach, and in affect tortured the kid while goading the police and parents that they wouldn't be able to save the child? Now go farther and think about this if the villain was a woman. See the stereotypical twist? The big difference overall is that the villain can't just do bad stuff, he or she must have some inherent tick that makes them think that their way is right, though it's not by society/moral standards.

I will tell you that my villains are a grade C, but I'm working to make them an A! I think my best villain to date was Kacela Theron with his henchwoman Judith, who also played an important role among my group of heroes. By showing Kacela extolling his power, and how he treated those he felt were beneath him (including children) I started to layer his evilness. Yet even when I was writing I didn't know until the end what made him so demented. Let's just say I was shocked myself by what came out. How things ended up sure didn't appear in my outline!!

The best way to make your readers really hate (or empathize with) your villain is to make his stakes personal, and to show an insight into him/her that will make the readers' perception concrete. As an example, think of Sylar from HEROES. We all knew he was a baddy from the beginning, going around slicing people's heads open to steal their powers. But we really didn't know anything about the man. Then we got to see him with his mother, to see why he became what he did. And this season, which is devoted all to Villains (see they're super popular) the writers gave us a couple twists I sure didn't see coming. Though each new secret added another layer, and changed the dynamic Sylar has with the heroes. So now we wonder is he friend or foe? This is a dichotomy that should be played with. The not knowing in itself can add to the tension, and hints that things may go from bad to so much worse in 60 seconds or less will keep readers flipping those pages.

In short, don't make your villain vanilla. Do something different, though not necessarily complex or you may be wishing you didn't have so many ends to tie up. Be sure to drop clues, but not so many that you give it all away! Readers need the villain to be mysterious, yet like a place to start to figure out the puzzle of his/her mind. Mwahaha!!


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1 comment:

Savanna Kougar said...

Sylar is a horror...was a horror? Is a horror? Hey, I kinda like him in the role as the perfect dad.