Archive for June, 2014

“You’re Dispicaple!”

Every story has a hero and a villain. Every one. I am of the opinion that our big human brains demand a sort of moral test with a sense of reasonable justice involved in order to be able to give a damn about what we are reading. That battle fills an emotional need in all of us.

It can be a biography about a soldier battling PTSD. The disease is the enemy. It can be chick-lit about an overweight bookstore owner who is distrustful of the hunky writer whose making romantic advances. The villain is her self doubt. Distopian, young adult series? The enemy is the state.

Usually in suspense, the villain isn’t so obvious. That’s part of the fun of reading suspense, and what’s really fun for me as a writer. Who’s really the bad guy? What are his or her actual motivations? Which characters are playing in the gray areas of moral ambiguity? Do the ends justify the means?

I don’t always have the answer to those questions when I create the villains. It’s up to the reader to decide. I might attempt to be persuasive; dangle that “greater good” carrot out there and see if they bite. It makes for great debate, and moral dilemmas force the reader to do a little self reflection. “What would I do, given these options?”

“Bad” people do bad things. And what those bad things are has to change with each story. If a villain is continuous in a series, the writer has to decide whether or not that person will stay “bad” in the same way, or if their MO will change as their story progresses. If a villain only stays in one story, their motivation is usually more pronounced, and that can actually help the writer maintain focus.

I am about one third of the way into the actual writing of Book 5, Blonde in the Backwater (copyright 2013), and so far the primary villain has only been introduced through a phone call. Minor villains and henchmen have made their truncated appearances, but so far the evil puppet master is still waiting in the wings. Who he (or she) is will still take some time for the heroes to sort out. The reader might get a heads up just to witness the heroes struggle as they need to.

Since this is also a romantic series, there are the villains that disrupt Evan and Bernice’s happiness as well. Will their pure and undying love survive? Or will they give into distractions, complacency and unresolved feelings?

The hero must always struggle more than the villain. The fight has to be hard won, or the reader will not feel vindicated. They need to have a reason to root for their heroes. And they need to believe that justice still prevails, and that true love still conquers all.

The more despicable the villain, the harder the fight, but the more gratifying the outcome. Just keep in mind, there is a price for the hero to pay when he or she wins. A series is not just one battle. It’s a war. And I’m not ready to sign the treaty yet. Muhaha.