Thursday, April 06, 2017

Introducing Vile Villains

Villains. Where would any movie, play, TV show or book be without them? Heroes are needed to save the day, but we wouldn't need them if it weren't for vile villains. Large or small, fat or thin, weak or strong, handsome or ugly, male or female, villains propel the action along and give our heroes something to do. I don't know about other authors, but I love to craft a really good villain.
Looking back at my college days, I remember reading Othello for the first time. I had seen the movie staring Lawrence Olivier and Maggie Smith, but I hadn't taken in the subtitles of the character of Iago. In fairness to me, I saw the movie when I was a child. I did well following the action at all.
But to get back to Iago. When I read the play in college, I learned to appreciate a well crafted villain. Iago's first soliloquy is all about how much he hates Othello and why. He feels slighted and passed over for promotion, among other things. He lays out exactly how he's going to manipulate the militaristic Moor and ruin his life. He intends to strip away wealth, position, friends, his love and finally – death in abject humiliation. Then, he proceeds to carry out his diabolical plan. Othello, and everyone else, fall for his machinations. It's really rather impressive just how gullible they all are.
When I started writing my own stories, many moons later, I knew I had to have strong, decisive villains. This doesn't mean that they can't be deluded or psychotic, because those can make some really good baddies. It means that even if they are operating behind the scenes, which all good scoundrels should do, they are working toward a specific goal. This will vary per story, but it usually entails messing up the hero's day as completely as possible.
I found that I enjoy telling the villain's story. I like exploring motivation and following the subtle (or not so subtle) manipulation that leads the bad guy, or gal, toward their goal. Besides messing up the hero's day, there is always something that the villain wants and is willing to sacrifice everything to attain. For Iago, it was revenge. For some it's money, others want fame, still others are out to attain a military target. Regardless of what they want, we, as authors, must make their motivation clear. I know I've discussed motivation before. It bears repeating as it is extremely important in the structure of every story. If I don't know what drives my characters, I can't find my ending.
In the next few months, I am going to explore villains. Along with I Love Dialogue, Notable Narrative, First Meetings and Sexy Without the Sex, I will be adding Vile Villains. In this series of posts, I might give a scene where they are introduced, I might even include some of their alarming antics. What I won't be sharing is how they get their comeuppance – because I refuse to give spoilers. Even if the books aren't published yet, doesn't mean I want to give the plot away. Why spoil the ending, after all?
Be looking for Vile Villains, starting May 11, 2017, with something new every second Thursday, here at the Writer's Sanctuary.
© 2017 Dellani Oakes

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