V – Villains

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.


PANDORA’S TACKLEBOX

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.


Villains

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.

19 comments

  1. Antagonists are so fun to read and write. Some of my favorite soap opera characters were the evil ones, since they could be more interesting than the so-called good characters.

    My own favorite antagonist, of my characters, is Boris of my Russian historicals. He practically writes himself, since I know exactly what makes him tick. It also helps that I knew him before he was written as the antagonist, so I understand where he’s coming from and how he turned to the evil inclination.

    Like

    1. Oh gosh, soap operas! I remember when my mother used to watch them and I was so fascinated by the over-the-top characters and the insanely dramatic situations they got into.

      That’s awesome! It’s great when a character speaks to you like that!

      Like

  2. “she was in a bad mood because Satan had just given her a poor quarterly performance review for not tormenting enough humans”. I mean, this is a great motivation. Now I don’t know anymore who’s side I’m going to root for…

    😛

    To be honest, I don’t much like villains. In my stories, I normally have antagonists. I much prefer them because I think it’s easier to make them human.
    Just my thought 🙂

    @JazzFeathers
    The Old Shelter – Jazz Age Jazz

    Like

    1. Hahaha the poor witch, she’s got such a demanding boss! 😉 I like antagonists too. Sometimes you don’t need a bad evil to motivate your hero, just someone who is standing in their way for their own reasons.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love the line about the “iron spikes for evil stomping.”

    Maybe we like creating villains because a character who wrestled with weakness, folly, temptations and power is more interesting than those who are purely good or untested. Even if the character lost to the struggle, it means they’ve dealt with things most of us encounter and deal with. Whereas the hero’s journey of dealing with such things is the novel itself.

    Villains start out as being relatable (but not necessarily likeable) characters, whereas heroes have to grow into their role. (And, let’s face it: villains make our job more interesting.) 🙂

    Like

    1. That’s a very good point, and explains why I like writing villains better than the hero sometimes! Maybe the idea of ‘villains’ is a substitute for battling what we consider our own shortcomings.

      Like

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s