This week, the topic is villains, and just how bad these bad boys should be. And, as always in regards to “rules for authors,” the answer is… that depends.
Like anything else, a villain is there to serve the story. This means that a villain and a story should be compatible. They should fit together. You don’t write a picture book where the villain collects the faces of dead children, and you don’t write a contemporary adult thriller about a villain who is trying to steal all of New York’s pudding. Divisions of “bad” play a very secondary role to the appropriateness of the villain.
And these divisions aren’t as clear-cut as I make them seem, above. This is because a villain should also be appropriate to the protagonist, and to the reader. If the protagonist has established family troubles, then the villain can play against that… kidnap a family member, or simply in some way intrude in a very personal way on the antagonist, so that there is no sanctuary at any level. And this intrusion should also play to the reader’s fears and tension. Just because you have a hero who has a hobby of collecting vintage tobacco packaging doesn’t mean an author should have the villain play against that by defacing all the vintage tobacco pouches with magic marker drawings of anthropomorphic genitalia. Sure, it would be traumatic to a man who has dedicated his life to tobacco collecting, but that doesn’t mean it would resonate with the reader. The villain, the hero and the reader must all connect in order to create entertaining book.
Only with all that in place can we move on to the second stage.Read More...