A Villain After My Own Heart…

 A Villain After My Own Heart

or

There is a Jeckle Inside You Mr. Hyde

DoRightCast
What is it with Nell’s fascination with Dudley’s horse? I mean, what kind of subversive deviants wrote this script?

I have been puttering around Chapter One of this year’s Nano project (Book 3 of a mostly-incomprehensible trilogy) because I have been dreading writing about the bad guy. Last night I took a stab at it. (I’m surprised my laptop isn’t bleeding.) But I find it really difficult to even want to write the parts of the book that involve conflict. No wonder Quentin Tarantino has so many guns and swords in his creations…there’s something about an antagonist that is so…so…antagonizing!

 

Stories resonate because of conflict. What would Star Wars be without Darth Vader? Who would breathe heavily into our ears and make us wish we had the light-up phallic symbol to battle our fathers with? (Uhh, that got kinda weird. Sorry ‘bout that.) What makes a perfectly rotten character so good?

 

My favorite villain of all time would be just about any character played by Alan Rickman. He just has such a flair for it. His best line ever, was when he played the Sheriff of Nottingham in the dreadful Robin Hood production starring Bull Durham. Following an incredibly vexing day, Nottingham stomps down the halls of the castle yelling: “Cancel the kitchen scraps for lepers and orphans, no more merciful beheadings, and call off Christmas!” Even when he plays a good guy, like the bulbous-headed alien in Galaxy Quest, he gets to be the snarky sidekick who makes all the astute observations about the narcissistic Captain Nesmith played by Tim Allen. Don’t get me started on his bad boy, Severus Snape.* He could make a girl go all Slytherin!  Uhh, where was I?  Oh, right, building the perfect bad guy.

i_am_a_slytherin__by_dragontygress-d64061v

Everybody loves to hate the bad guy. They give the story depth and flavor. They get all the best lines—if not the girl. They are usually the more exciting character—heroes tend to be all alike in their sterling qualities. As a writer you have to examine the development of both halves of the equation: Is a valiant, brave, but predictable leading man bringing your book down? Bring on the sly, devious lothario to ripen up a flaccid plot. If he looks good in tight leather—bonus!

It is very hard to create a villain that isn’t a one-dimensional Snidely Whiplash standing over the girl tied to the railroad tracks**, twirling his mustachio and cackling “I’ve got you now, Dudly Do-Right! Mwa ha ha ha.” Everything I write seems to be a challenge to my desire to make an unredeemable villain who isn’t a cardboard cutout. When I have to write about the motivations or methods of my current villain, I am repelled delving into the monster I have created.  Am I alone in this?

I leave it to you, the writer. How do you write a character that just won’t play nice? For now, I just ask myself one question: “What Would Snidely Do?”

Asterisk Bedazzled Footnotes:

*Hats off to J.K. Rowling that she managed to sneak a hero in dressed as a villain. Not many authors can carry that off! (Blatant appeal to vanity in hopes she won’t sue for my use of the above ‘Slytherin’ artwork.)

**Who knew this was a fetish?

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10 thoughts on “A Villain After My Own Heart…

    1. One of my favorite movies of recent times is Wreck It Ralph (not a porno) wherein a ‘Bad Guy’ learns that ‘Being a Bad Guy is a good thing!’ I’m trying to wrap my head around the concept of loving the evil my character does all in the name of moving the story along. I think we need couples counselling though.

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  1. Funny, I loved writing my bad guy most of all! Bad guys give you so much scope. The trouble is though, that people who read the bad guy always end up wondering if their behaviours are too closely coupled with the author’s. I tell them… its creativity, it’s imagination… it’s not *me*. But they cross the road when they see me coming anyways 😉

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    1. For me it’s more like the irritant stuck in the oyster. Right now my villain is a gritty piece of something sticking in my craw. Hopefully someday soon, I’ll find a pearl. (You can thank me for abandoning my efforts to find a literary analogy using a nacreous substance. That could’ve gotten sticky.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I suppose to qualify as a really good person invoves being a sort of moral all-rounder; honest and loyal and kind and brave etc.etc. So a character can be a hero/ine basically in only one way (at least in a culture where every reader shares the same basic moral values).
    But to be bad all you have to do is to have a really well developed specialist capacity for a single vice- pride or greed or lust or spite or whatever.
    However every major vice gives you a motive to be selectively dishonest, unkind etc.as well. But this does not make all villains similar, because the particular vice each majors in gives a very distinctive and different shape to how, when and why these other failings emerge.
    As a result villains can take many entertainingly different forms- which must come in very handy for an author like George R. R. Martin 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I have to wonder how in the world George R.R. manages to keep all of his villainy straight? While I love the intricacies and complexities of the world he has created, I can image the nightmare of keeping it all organized.

      His works do bring up a question: at what point is the virtue of heroes also a failing? Think of Ned Stark. If he hadn’t been such an upright person, perhaps he might have cottoned to the idea that defaming the ruling family (the one with the really nasty piece of work, Joffrey) could possibly have repercussions. That the evil villains (the Lannisters–boo hiss) were equally short-sighted in placing a homicidal teenager on a throne and expecting him to follow a playbook, well, it does show George R.R.’s adept handling of that broad, gray line between good and evil.

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