Villians. Hate them, love them, need them

There is something eerily appealing about the villain.  They serve so many purposes. Yet, are always true to themselves.  They’re the thorn in a happy ending.  The catalyst for revenge. The scapegoat for things gone awry. The wrench in well-laid plans.

They’re the characters we hate, but ones we need.  Without them the story would be just plain boring.

As with your heroine or hero, much care has to be taken in the villain’s development.  After all, they’re not stupid people.  In fact, most villains are educated and clever.  I don’t want to hate a dumb villain!  They wouldn’t give me the pleasure of hating them because they wouldn’t have the capacity to figure things out or be manipulative where they need to be.

One of the best reference books on writing villains is titled, “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches” by Jessica Page Morrell.  The book breaks down the layers of an antagonist and demonstrates how to develop the best one for your story.

The antagonist or villain appears in all shapes and levels of wickedness.  You may run across The Betrayer, the Gossip or the Liar or met The Power Hungry or Narcissist. And let us not forget the classic Cad or Femme Fatale.

The tactics of a villain are specific. As the book points out, “they don’t walk the walk, or talk the talk, they dare to perform the worst acts in order to make the most gains.” Some of their tactics include: taking extreme risks, controlling others by using guilt and loyalty or obsessing about details and a plan of attack.”

This describes a villain in one of my books to a tee.  She’s a wicked, wicked woman–educated, business savvy, self-serving, manipulative, and vengeful. And get this, people love her!  They marvel at how wicked she is, but look forward to everything she does throughout the book.

Villains are fun to write. And let’s face it, we all at one time or another enjoy reading about a dastardly deed and hoping that the villain gets their just deserts.   For the most part, the antagonist gives readers a chance to walk on the dark side or get a glimpse of how evil truly lurks …lol

Just think of some of your favorite books or movies where you just couldn’t believe how evil they were. Yet, you couldn’t help but wonder what they’d do next.  Here are a few of mine!Hans-Looking-Die-Hard-hans-gruber-18648743-1280-720 (1)

1. Hans Gruber, Die Hard

2. Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds

3. Jack Torrence, The Shining

4. Annie Wilkes, Misery

5. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs

6. Norman Bates, Psycho

What I enjoy most about developing the villain is that you have license to decide their fate and whether or not they can be redeemed. Some are beyond redemption, yet others can see the errors of their ways. Who knows they may even earn their own book! Although that may be a challenging undertaking, it can be done.

If you’re struggling with the development of your antagonist, I highly recommend, “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches.”  It will provide great insight and direction on how to create a well-rounded villain your readers will love to hate.

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The writing pit bull …

Many moons ago, during a work performance appraisal, a former manager of mine referred to me as a “pit bull with a bone.”

Of course, my first reaction was one of disbelief.  And then I wanted to punch her. 🙂  Good thing she explained rather quickly why she made such a reference, because I probably would have been out of a job.

She described me as a person who never gave up.  She went on to say that when I had a project to do, I’d take the assignment and run with it.  And no matter what, I refused to let it go until it was completed.

I thought about her comment and although I was still relatively pissed, I took what she had to say as a compliment.

And then I took what she had to say as fact.  And then the truth.

I don’t like leaving things undone, especially my writing.

It’s been a little over a year, since I’ve looked at my WIP. Except for my critiquing group, I did nothing remotely literary, including reading. And that pained me.  But life became overwhelming and my writing took a back seat.  Dare I mention my previous surroundings (home/office) weren’t conducive to writing or reading?

However, I’m happy to say that that sorry book is closed and for the first time in many months, I’m grabbing on to that bone and not letting go. I’ve been able to REALLY look at my WIP with interest. It’s fantastic to be able focus on a manuscript I started years ago.

I even managedstop-writing to finish a book by one of my favorite authors, Maya Banks. It felt so good to read again!

I’ve said it before; no man (or writer) is not an island. As writers, we need feedback, encouragement and collaboration, which is why I’m so thankful for my critiquing group—three fabulous writers, Leigh Raffaele, Beth-Ann Gutsick Kerber and Kathleen Pacheco. They allowed me to vent when necessary and the time to get over a major hurdle.

I’m also thankful for my critiquing partner, writer Jaye Gavin Allan, for checking in on me every once and awhile to make sure I was still breathing!

Writing is my best friend and I couldn’t go another day without it.  To do what we love doing, requires a place that is conducive to writing and one that nurtures to our creativity.

This pit bull is lucky to have found it again because I refuse to fail.

As an artist, how do you get back/stay on track?