“She had always found villains more exciting than heroes. They had ambition, passion. They made the stories happen.” Soman Chainani, The School for Good and Evil
Before I start I would like to thank Jonathan Snyder for allowing me to write a guest post on his blog. It’s a great honor for me, and I hope you will enjoy this little excursion.
Villains are the spice of the stories we read, the movies we watch, the campfire legends we are told. But writing a villain is a really difficult thing to do! Why is that? For me personally it is, because I have a problem to identify with them. We meet people we can use as a blueprint for characters all the time, but how many villains do we meet to do the same?
We might know the one or other bitch or jerk, someone who makes your life hard, a poor misunderstood soul or someone who had a bad day. That is a good start. But usually when we meet them, it is a rather one-sided and subjective image we paint them in. What would make them an effective counterpart in a story?
I’ve been thinking and researching, talked with readers and authors and have compiled a small check-list that helps me to determine if my villain is someone I’d be interested in reading more about.
- One dimensional villains often get boring.
- To do evil just to do evil makes it hard to identify with them, which also can lead to disinterest in reading their parts. There are stories of course in which that is appropriate – use your best judgement.
- Villains need a motive. That ties in with the last item, but even if someone is evil to be evil, they have a reason for it. He it mentally, something in their past, a certain trigger etc.
- Nobody is born evil. Show what made this happen.
- Villains are people too. Sometimes we want to know more about them. Their life, their thoughts, the ins and outs. In some cases the villain is just a regular person, that nobody would suspect, so show that environment.
- Some readers also mentioned that they want to understand villains and why they do what they do. That ties in with some of the points I have mentioned.
- Make the villain believable. If s/he has special powers, make sure they fit in the setting. If they have super skills make sure to explain how they got them. They also make mistakes, don’t be afraid to show that, it is a great tool for character building. Even a villain does not ‘magically’ know everything about the hero and their plan. They had to have time to research and plan. Where did they get their information from and so on.
- There is no black or white. Not everyone is only good or only evil. Actually that’s a rarity. So sometimes you want to make your reader guess, or surprise them about who your villain is.
- When it comes to the Villain / Hero interaction there are two things that have been mentioned many times, which I personally find important as well:
- A villain who cannot be beat, gets frustrating. It is no fun for the reader to see that no matter what the hero does, they fail because the villain just is perfect and too strong. Make sure that there is a way to beat him at his game. He is fallible to and might make a small mistake, or a big one. Either way don’t make him unbeatable.
- A villain who loses at the Hero’s first attempt, is boring. He wouldn’t be a good villain if he can’t even hold out for that long. That just makes him a regular person who is not very smart.
- So a balance is important: Not too strong, not too weak. Enjoy some cat and mouse play between them, make it smart and interesting, but don’t stretch it out too long or make it impossible to beat. If you plan on a re-occurring bad guy, let the hero have small victories and the villain learn from them. But in the end the bad guy should be beatable, unless you plan on a story that ends with the hero being the loser that is.
Some of these might make you wonder. Why should a villain be relatable or why should I understand them? Please note that every kind of story can have a different kind of villain to work with. For me personally there are a few types of villain that I enjoy to read about:
- The kind of villain that makes me want to crawl into the story to beat the crap out of them.
- The kind of villain, that makes me hate to hate them. Someone that I can relate to, understand and think ‘But he had a good reason!’ or ‘It was a good cause’.
- Someone who is like me, faced the same hardships or others that I can relate to.
- The surprise villain. Someone I had not expected to be ‘it’, but when I think about it, it makes a lot of sense.
All of these are pretty vague and can be about anyone in any role in any kind of story. Different examples for villains I have found all over the net and the list varies depending on who writes it. Neither list is finished by any means, they can be pretty extensive. Tastes are different but pretty much everyone has this one thing in common:
Make the villain interesting!
The Staff (Belaria Series #1)
Science fiction and fantasy. They are the books that I like the most so when A.J. Chaudhury’s Belaria Series
came up for review, I was optimistic in trying it. To say the least, I was not disappointed. The first book of the series deals with the main character Charlz as he gets caught up in a conspiracy around the Staff of Belaria. I’m not going to go in to detail, but it is an exciting story filled with twists and turns like you would not believe.
What stands out the best to me is how Mister Chadhury created a fantasy world the feels familiar, yet exotic thanks to the influence of his own country of India. The Staff is a great story to curl up by the fire with and read and an author to continue to pay attention to.
Sra’Kalor (Ashwood Falls #1)
I am not a big supernatural fantasy fan, but I have to say that I was very pleasantly surprised in what I found in those pages. A good friend of mine asked me to read her book and it turned out to be a great suggestion! Jessica Werner’s Sra’Kralor, the first book in the Ashwood Falls series is a very interesting take on the supernatural creatures living in our world theme. It follows the story of Alana who has a mysterious ability that her family cannot deal with and when she turns eighteen, she is placed on a bus and sent to the nearby city of Ashwood Falls. If she thought her life could not get stranger, she would be in for a big surprise.
Jessica Werner has a very short way of saying things, but packs a lot of meaning in each word she chooses. Though English is not her first language, you can tell that Jessica is doing her best to capture her world in a foreign language. At times you can tell, but not enough to take away from the story. It is an adventure that any supernatural romance reader would love to add to their read lists and one you should not miss out on.
For those who have read the first release, I highly suggest giving the book a second try as it has become a great piece of writing!
Have you ever decided something and when you finally sat down to put it in to action, you were completely struck by the insurmountable odds in front of you? Well, that is what just happened to me when I decided to not only get back in to writing, but also to try and make it pay. I have always loved writing and after a recent string of jobs that I just could not fit in, it dawned on me that it might be time to try my hand at something that I once loved.
The hard question is, could I do it? For so long, writing had been my only passion and now it has be reduced to a bunch of scribbles on the back of receipts. The feeling of creation had completely left me and some days I just stare at a blank page just wishing the words would come out of my fingers. Could that ever happen again?
I sometimes wonder if it is that line that all writers hit. When you move away from looking at it as a hobby and an “art” to realizing it has to be a business if you plan to make money at it. Sometimes I wonder if I cannot accept the fact that writing is going to be a chore and inspiration is never going to hit me every time I sit down at my computer to tap words out.
So, why is this blog on the failing writer that I am? Well, this blog post is the first step into the New Year to go from being a scribbler on the back to receipts to a freelance writer who has gotten a renewed love for writing. I want to get back the excitement and the adventure of this wonderful craft and leave behind the awful, horrible, writer’s block that has haunted me for years.
So, this is to my future freelance career and I hope you all (if anyone is out there reading this) will join me for the ride!
Ever since I was twelve years old and my mother gave me my dad’s old college typewriter, I told myself and everyone who was willing to listen to me that I was going to become a writer. Now, at the old age of twenty-nine, I look at what I have done and wonder if I ever accomplished my goal and if it was even possible.
Being an author is not a blessing as you might think, but more of a gilded curse. I have heard many aspiring authors say that they want to write, tell stories, and to make money, but I just shake my head and think to myself that they really do not understand what it means to be one. For me, writing is something that I have to do. I must tell a story no matter what and even when I cannot write because of a mental block or that I am tired, I find myself writing little notes in my book or even posting to this blog.
To all you aspiring writers, writing will infect your soul. You will have the burning desire to write and it will consume you when you are not able to put those words down on paper. Am I trying to scare you off? No, not at all. I love being a writer, even if sometimes I feel that the stories in my mind are trying to rip their way out. I am in love with that feeling when you have a clear cognizance and are able to spend the next two or three hours just penning what you want. For me, it has become rare because of my real world responsibilities, but you cannot beat the feeling of accomplishment and love as you bring a character to life on paper.
Writing is such a big thing to me, sometimes I worry that it will take over and I will always be trying to devote time even if it really is an unending hobby. I mean, when do you decide, “I’ve written enough stories, I’m done.” That never happens.
So, to all you writers out there, keep up what you are doing. You are not alone in the uncontrollable urge to tell some story. As you hunch over your laptop putting out yet another fan fiction, or essay, or article, realize that you are not alone and someone else has admitted they have the addiction of words. And then say a pray for them.
You know those days where nothing seems to be going right? The days when your projects are behind, life has decided to kick you in the face multiple times, AND you spill your favorite pop all over your favorite shirt? (Of course it’s a blue shirt and a dark pop). That is what has been happening to me for a few weeks, but something exciting has happened and I’m glad to share!
I have published my first story for 2014! It’s the first part of a serial I plan to work on all year and you can find it here:
If you are interested, please take a look, comment, vote and give me your feedback. It’s only through help that I will be able to improve and become a better writer. You’re support, though invisible, is essential. I appreciate every bit you all give me!
It has been a long time since I’ve written in a blog. I think about a year ago when my original one was taken down thanks to some hackers getting past the nucleus install and put their porn ads all over the comments. Oh, well.
Now, as I’m trying to get back in to the world of writing for the year of 2014, I have decided that I do need a blog to keep up the practice and to talk like I used to. I’ve missed the enjoyment of sitting and writing something with no pressure nor any care who or what is reading it.
So, stay tuned for more writings from me and I hope I do not bore you all to death.
Went to the bazaar today and it was…bizarre (hee, hee, get the play on words?) Tuesday are my day off and so Wilson and I (Wilson’s a good friend of mine from the shop) decided to head to the other side of the base to do some shopping at the BX/PX.
The Bazaar is a little building where everything is glass doors and all the items are compacted in there for everybody to see, hanging from ceilings with ancient helmets from Afghanistan’s past to brand new DVDs (both real and pirated). To top it off, you have a little Afghanis sitting in their corner with their white hats, robes, and smiles. If felt like I had walked into one of those middle eastern movies where you see the people hawking their wares on the market.
What was cool about the bazaar is that it was like a real middle eastern one. There were no price tags on anything! Wilson did a marvelous job haggling for an item by pretending not to be that interested in it and got the seller to lower his price. Sad to say, I did not do as good of a job.
What caught my eye was a hand made chess set in a wooden box covered in green felt. The pieces were carved out of marble and so was the board. The seller had already allied up beside me with a big grin on his face.
“Good morning, Friend! Beautiful chess set made from the quarries of Kabul, Afghanistan. Give you a very good price.”
Here was the shocker. Something like this would go for about 150 to 200 dollars in the United States. I asked how much and he said, “Only 35 American dollars”.
I have him that price just because it was such a beautiful board. Stupid American, right?
But I do own a gorgeous chess set. I’m glad I bought it and plan to go back, though this time gonna do some haggling and see what deals I can get. Oh, what fun in Afghanistan!