Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Where Do You Find Your Villain?

All writers have a different style – some are plotters, some write by the seats of their pants, some work with a combo of the above or their very own construct. It doesn’t matter how the author creates, but what the author creates – and what the writer creates is a story filled with characters we root for and against.

There is a great deal of information available about heroes – alpha or beta, romantic or hard-boiled. Is he tall, athletic and handsome, or do the ladies adore his geekiness?

Our favorite heroines are generally smart, funny, and accomplished. But then again, there are the Stephanie Plums of the world, too! She’s smart, she’s funny, she’s klutzy!

But villains – where do the villains come from? Are they archetypes, constructs from our days of hearing fairy tales and myths? Are they the product of nightmares or do we pick our boss’ least appealing characteristics and make them bigger than life? Do we build him or her from people we read or hear about in the news? In documentaries? Or are they only a product of the writer's fertile imagination?

As far back as man has created, the villain has been a crucial component of the storyteller’s craft. The villain – or villainess, as the case may be – creates a great deal of stress and angst for our lovely hero and heroine. The villain will thwart them at every turn, for a while, and then their brilliance, bravery and moxie will shine as the villain is conquered.

What was our bad guy’s fatal flaw – hubris, stupidity, inexperience? Whatever it is, it brings him down in the end.

And isn’t that what we all want – to see justice done, the villain stopped and our hero or heroine win the day?

Who is your favorite villain and why?

Libby McKinmer
Romance with an edge
Find me on Facebook, Twitter & Goodreads


J D Webb said...

Great question, Libby. My villains come from everywhere. From the FBI ten most wanted list, a photo of a criminal in the newspaper, maybe someone who has ticked me off and they need to be punished. I've even made a person with a kindly face a murderer. After all, what does a villain look like. Could be any of us.

Libby McKinmer said...

That's true -- who knows what's lurking behind those baby blues?! Look at Baby Face Nelson!

Joanie said...

My favorite literary villain is the Master Criminal in the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters. What I liked best was how he evolved with the series to be even closer to the family than anyone imagined at first. I realize that broad change can only occur in a series format, where new layers are revealed as each new book comes out, but my all-time favorite is the Master Criminal.


Jean Henry Mead said...

I enjoy writing about villains because I can gve them traits of nasty people I've known. So I'd have to say that the villains I've created for my Logan & Cafferty mystery/suspense series are my favorites, especially the serial killer who masqueraded as a woman and took an article of clothing from each victim as a souvenir.

Morgan Mandel said...

My villains come from everyday people who have twisted minds. They seem kind of normal, but they're not.

Morgan Mandel