V is for Villains

My theme for this A to Z Challenge is Everything I Love about Writing. Well, here’s a little secret for you, I don’t really like villains. I write and read to get away from the real world and all of its sorrow. There are even movies that I refuse to watch because they end sadly, Steel Magnolias and Love is a Many Splendored Thing to name just a couple. However, without a villain, something for good to strive against, many books and movies would not exist. After all, can you imagine Lord of the Rings without Sauron? Makes the whole series kinda moot, doesn’t it?

In the series I’m currently writing, The Seeker Files, it is a fantasy/mystery series. Most mysteries need a bad guy, not all, but most. A little bit of a sneak peak, but there will be a villain through the entire six books series. So, in my mind, what do I think about when writing about villains?

 

Here are the top 3 things:

 

  1. No villain is one hundred percent evil

Lilo explaining

Even though it would be easier if the villain was just pure evil, that is not the case. No one is ever entirely good or entirely bad. Both of these things will cause people to put aside a book or turn off a movie because they can’t relate. After all, how can one relate to pure light or pure darkness? Our world is filled with different degrees of grayness, that is what makes us human. Villains are still human to some degree, so to make them pure evil is doing your story a disservice.

 

  1. Every villain has a backstory

 

Villains don’t just appear out of nowhere. They have parents and childhoods. They might have had pets and friends. They have foods that they prefer to eat and clothes that they like to wear. They have all the quirks that every person living has. Some people are born sociopaths, that is true, but they can still feel emotion even if it’s just a burning desire to take things for themselves. Their backstory might even contain what made them turn into villains. Maybe they had abusive parents or a drug habit. Maybe they are adrenaline junkies that need to keep getting more extreme to feel that rush. Who knows? But next time you’re reading, take a moment to think about what might’ve caused them to be the villains that they are.

 

  1. Villains are the heroes of their own stories

A villain is not a villain to themselves. They may know that they are opposed to the ‘good guys’, but they do not believe that they are in the wrong. For example, think of Ursula in A Little Mermaid. She believes that she is helping the merfolk even as she is taking advantage of them. The villain might have even started out as a good guy, only to get twisted over to evil as he does his journey. Anakin from Star Wars is a prime example of that. His worry for Padme, a noble thing, got so twisted around that he ended up becoming Darth Vader.

 

 

I know that there have probably been several posts about villains during this A to Z Challenge, but here is my take on them. Let me know what you think 😊

J is for Journey

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Now, I know that I’ve been using a lot of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit references. But honestly, they are epic books and movies (except for The Hobbit trilogy, I cannot condone those) and they have withstood the test of time. Some books are poorly written but become immensely popular for short time. Others are very well written but are a dense read, so they remain of limited popularity. Tolkien combines both ease of reading and excellent writing, as is shown by its continued popularity years after it was written. Anyway, I digress.

 

Journey is one of my all time favorite words. It implies travel, new experiences, personal growth. But as Bilbo Baggins so aptly tells Frodo

“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings

 

I find that this to be true of writing as well. When you embark on the path of a story, if you don’t keep your feet under you, you will be swept off to who knows where instead of the intended destination of your story. Also there is the fact that in a story, as in real life, a journey does not have to be a physical journey, but it can be an emotional journey instead. All that matters is that the character is not in the same place that we found them and that we know how they got there.

 

What is a journey that you or your character have taken lately?

 

come-on-sam-remember-what-bilbo-used-to-say-its-a-dangerous-business-frodo-gong-out-your-door-lord-quote

H is for Hidden Heroes

Welcome to week two of the A to Z Challenge. I can’t believe how much fun week one was and I was blown away by how many people liked and commented on my posts. You guys are awesome. Also, I got to read some marvelous posts and I can’t wait to see more in the coming weeks.

 

So the post for today is about Heroes. Face it, every story has a hero, no matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction. In fiction, it’s usually a person or an animal. In non-fiction, it’s an object or subject. For example, in a non-fiction book about agriculture, farming is the hero of the book. Why is it the hero? Without it, the book cannot exist. Take a look at any book. What person or subject if you remove it, makes the book impossible? That is the hero of the story.

 

However, that is not to say that there is only one hero in any given story. Stories are complex, intricate things, much like humans are. Which isn’t really a surprise, because what are stories but the result of human’s dreams and imagination? So while there is usually an instantly visible hero, there are also hidden heroes. Yes, you heard me right. Hidden heroes. ‘But’, you say, ‘You just told us that without the Hero, the story wouldn’t exist’. That’s true, I did indeed just say that. But at the end of the day, heroes aren’t infallible. In the course of a story, there are often many times that a hero would’ve fallen or given up if there wasn’t someone there to support him or give him something to fight for. These characters are the ones that I like to refer to as hidden heroes.

 

samfrodo_twotowers

 

One of my favorite hidden heroes is Samwise from Lord of the Rings. Although he thinks of himself as a simple hobbit, he is the reason in the end that the ring is destroyed. There are so many times that Frodo would’ve never made it to Mordor without Sam’s help. His perseverance and loyalty are truly awe inspiring and sometimes having just one friend at our side can make all the difference. Not to mention that he risked giant spiders to save his friend with only a vial of light and Sting. Shudder, those were some big spiders. I’m not afraid of spiders but I sure would have arachnophobia after encountering those things. No matter how tired he got, or stressed, or even betrayed by his friends, Sam never gave up, never faltered in his quest to help Mr. Frodo. Can you imagine what you could achieve with a friend like that at your back?

 

However, there is one point, in the second book “The Two Towers” where Sam and Frodo have hit one of the lowest places in their journey. The have been captured and taken from their trek to Mordor and while captured, they have been attacked. Frodo has reached his breaking point and tells Sam that he can’t do this, he can’t go on. I believe that this is the truly pivotal point in the journey and that there is a real chance of Frodo giving up and going home right then and there. And Sam doesn’t argue with him, doesn’t tell him all the reasons why they have to get the ring to Mordor. Instead, he simply shares his heart, giving Frodo the strength to keep going. This scene makes me tear up almost every time.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k6C8SX0mWP0

 

Here is beautiful kinetic typology of his speech. Kinetic typology is a fascinating thing.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pErpW0vFtPE

 

So who is your favorite Hidden Hero? I can’t wait to see 😊

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