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 😊

N is for Narrow

As writers, we are perforce required to narrow things down. We have to decide which genre to write in, who or what our main character or subject is, what time frame they exist in. We do it of a necessity so that we don’t overwhelm ourselves or our readers with either too much irrelevant information or too confusing of a plot line. Books written that way tend to get set aside quickly and only very rarely picked back up.

So when is narrow too narrow? Usually, we like to present our information in a simple linear fashion. Picture if you will, a simple dirt path that leads to a rope and plank bridge over an impassable gorge. It is straightforward and it gets you from point a to point b, negating the impossible obstacle that is the gorge. The bridge, or narrow viewpoint, is necessary to reach the endpoint.

 

bridge

 

Now imagine if you will that same bridge, but instead of over a gorge, its in the middle of a beautiful mountain meadow. Does it make any sense to be there? Does it serve any purpose? No, but we have become so focused on that bridge as the only way from point a to point b that we have failed to see its lack of usefulness in this situation. That it is cutting us off from the beauty and possibilities that surround us. So narrow minded focus can be a good thing, but only if it used in the right places.

 

mountain meadow

 

What is a book that has either too narrow a focus or not narrow enough that you will never finish/read again?

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