Preptober: Stream of villainy

This is a stream-of-consciousness post. When I went back to rewrite this for the blog, I thought, “why? This is how it is.”

I am ambivalent about my villain and that worries me. As I develop these character sheets, getting to know these people and finding out how their own goals and desires either parallel or conflict with the overall plot, I’m starting to find my villain wandering away from the pack. Part of the problem is [SPOILER] but that’s more of a plot difficulty than a character flaw. Or perhaps, the character trait is highlighting a plot flaw that I didn’t see before. Either way, my villain sucks right now.

One of the things I’m most concerned about is throwing too many bad traits at my character, like putting a big neon sign above their head saying “BAD PERSON RIGHT HERE! BAD BAD BAD!” This is something even celebrated writers tend to do from time to time. Make their villain truly evil. Murderer? Sure! Abuser? Bring it! Incestuous Bigot? Spicy! Honestly, the villain doesn’t have to come close to any of these aberrations to be the villain. Mainly, they just have to be on an oppositional path to your protagonist. I need my villain and hero to be zeroing in on the same target, from opposite directions, with similar motives, but opposing values.

Let me think about that again, because I’m onto something here (I’m just brainstorming right now – these are the raw logs friends):

Villain ===> GOAL <=== Hero
Villain = MOTIVES = Hero
Villain <X VALUES X> Hero

This diagram is either helpful or stupid.

My villain and hero should be mirrors of each other (to a certain extent). So similar motives, but differing values. 

  • The hero will steal an apple to feed himself and his family. 
  • The villain will kill the apple seller and take over his stall to feed himself and his family.

GOAL = Family is fed
MOTIVE = Family is hungry
VALUES = Theft vs. Murder

Interesting. The villain’s plan is obviously more successful – he feeds his family for more than a single apple, but causes more suffering. The hero causes little suffering but only solves the problem once.

This is the kind of writing that really works for brainstorming – the kind that gives me the sounding board I need without forcing a friend to sit across from me and not talk. I don’t have friends that can not talk.

So thanks, friends that don’t talk, you’ve been most helpful.

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