Friday, December 3, 2010
Stephen Tremp - Guest Post
When you get a minute, stop by his blog and say hello. It's a great source of writing, marketing, publishing and other fabulous info.
And just in case you didn't know, Stephen's specialty is action and suspense, evident in his book -
Breakthrough: The Adventures of Chase Manhattan.
BTW, Breakthrough is available from Amazon and Barnes and Noble; visit Stephen's blog for details. So enough chatting, on to Stephen's post:
Why We Like Villains So Much
Developing a seriously evil villain takes more than pasting together bad traits. They are more than being the antithesis of the hero. Villains force us to confront our worst fears at our weakest moments. They can attack us when we are most vulnerable, such as when we sleep ala Freddy Kruger. They draw us away from the safety of our world and into theirs, like Kathleen Bates in Misery. Villains are defeated, then return with their evil friends. They come in various shapes, sizes, or colors such as people, animals (Jaws and Kujo), or aliens. They can be silent and invisible as in spirit form. They might already be dead. i.e. vampires and zombies. Hey, they can even be a doll like Chucky or Talking Teena from the Twilight Zone. Sometimes we even root for the villain! They have a story to tell and secrets to hide.
“Villains pose fundamental questions about humanity and, ‘they make audiences consider the moral dilemmas of their society … they expose how much you can get away with, what’s legal, and these characters operate on quite a basic level.’ (Writing Great Villains). Other villains simply want to spread anarchy, as Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker.
Bad guys can be one-dimensional and predictable. We all know what Jaws was going to do. Eat people alive. A thug who is in and out of prison his entire life is going to do pretty much the same thing over and over. There are some really great ones like the simple hit man with no conscious such as Javier Bardem in No Country for Old Men.
Villains can also be multi-dimensional. These bad guys are intelligent, socially adept, they have resources, and are usually somewhat athletic like Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Sometimes society doesn’t even know they are hosting a monster.
Villains can also be a tragic character, a victim of some hideous crime against them. They snap and seek revenge on their attackers, innocent people, or on the world. Villains can vary from culture to culture. What might be acceptable in once place could be reprehensible in another. Or a character can be an invader or a liberator, depending on the perspective of the other characters. Stella Cameron has a good list of villainous types at her Web site.
Many antagonists are a mosaic of this list. My antagonist in Breakthrough is the Mastermind. He is compulsive obsessive and calculates his plans to the minutest detail. He has followers who are part of his inner circle, such as his girlfriend and fellow M.I.T. grad student Staci Bevere. She is the assassin extraordinaire. But he is the one who ultimately pulls the strings.
BTW, I love the malcontent, such as a fired or disgruntled employee. Example: Richard Preston’s The Cobra Event, a story of domestic bio terrorism where the villain was fired, and he decided to take his anger out on the world by developing and unleashing a virus that causes self-cannibalism and death.
“As the writer, it is essential you know the villain's motivation (even if the reader doesn't); only this way will you be able to keep his/her words and actions consistent; he/she acts evil for a reason; even if that reason is "crazy" in the eyes of society, the villain believes the reasoning is logical and performs accordingly.” Ruth Kerce
Power, greed, instinct, madness, fight for survival, and revenge are excellent drivers that motivate a villain. Sometimes we even root for a villain. Perhaps, they’re right because they are victims. Vigilantes fall into this catagory.
Stephen Tremp blogs at Breakthrough Blogs and is author of the Near Future SciFi Thriller Breakthrough. If you feel this blog is worthy, go ahead and make my day. Retweet it
Thank you, Stephen, for sharing with us! Don't forget to stop by Breakthrough Blogs tomorrow for my guest post.
What do you think? Are you a fan of the bad guy?
Have a good weekend,