My A to Z Challenge theme is teaching you how not to write a book, or a short story, or any piece of creative writing whatsoever. For more information, including links to previous chapters and lessons, please refer to this post. Now buckle in and proceed with…
THE WORST ROMANCE NOVEL EVER WRITTEN IN 26 DAYS.
Billionaire Highlander cowboy Hawk MacHardcastle is tired of living the jetset life of champagne, bucking broncos, kilts, fast cars, and burning bundles of cash for warmth. Desperate to find meaning in his life, he retires to his family’s isolated cabin in the wilds of New Jersey, on the shores of majestic Lake Latrine.
There, Hawk plans on self-reflection and pursuing the great love of his life—fishing. However, Hawk’s self-imposed loneliness comes to an end when he makes a most unusual companion and fishing buddy.
Dropsy Velvet was once a young woman living on the shores of Lake Latrine with her settler family. However, a curse turned her into a mermaid and now she lives, sad and alone, in the depths of the lake. She hasn’t had human contact for close to fifty years, thanks to everyone either being terrified of her or thinking they’re drunk when they see her—but Hawk may be the connection to the world she’s been craving. Charmed by her innocent face, sparkling wit, and huge bare breasts, Hawk decides to help her find a way to lift the curse, as she will lift his: the curse of ennui and affluenza. But time is running out, for something sinister wants to flush Latrine away forever.
Hawk prepared himself for the fight that would ensue at sundown. He would not let his beloved be sucked down the drain to Hell. He outfitted himself with every weapon he owned, including his specially-designed cleats with iron spikes for evil stomping, and returned to the water where Dropsy floated listlessly as she stared at the sinking sun.
“Tell me all about this witch,” Hawk commanded. “So I might know best how to stop her.”
Dropsy heaved a sigh. “I remember it all now. I was a young woman. My family had just built a cabin on the lakeshore. I was out gathering firewood. She appeared before me in a pillar of flame. She said she was a minion of Hell and she loved punishing humans. I was in the wrong place at the wrong time—she was in a bad mood because Satan had just given her a poor quarterly performance review for not tormenting enough humans. And so, she cast me into the lake, where I grew a tail and gills, and I would never see my family again.” She sniffed. “My father accidentally caught me while fishing once, but he was drunk and thought he was hallucinating.”
Hawk gazed at the setting sun. His broad jaw twitched and icy eyes glittered with malevolence. “You will have your vengeance, my darling. The only one going to Hell is that witch. Hasta la vista, baby.”
WHAT THE HELL HAPPENED HERE?
Villains are the second most important characters in your story, after your protagonists. Villains are often the reason for the story, the reason your protagonist even has anything interesting to do. If you want to write villains that are one dimensional, cartoonish, and merely evil for the sake of evil, there’s venues for that: comic books, comedy, children’s books–but if you’re writing something a bit more meaty, you’re going to have to flesh out your villains, and in some cases even make us care about them…sounds crazy, doesn’t it?
The best villains are the ones who have reasons for being evil, and especially understandable reasons. If your villain is a human being, something probably made them go bad. Maybe they were abused, mistreated, deprived—maybe they’re struggling against something powerful themselves, or reaching for something most humans can empathize with wanting. Maybe they’re psychologically disturbed. They probably didn’t just emerge from Hell filled with pure evil. One of my favorite villains is Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, because he started out seeming cartoonish, but in later books we discover he was a sociopathic human who grew up in difficult circumstances…which is realistic, and all the more chilling for it. The best villains, the ones that really scare us, are the ones we can actually imagine being real.