Ah, one of my favorite days of the week...Wicked Wednesday...and Diane has a fun guest post!
Villains are the heroes of their own story. Each villain thinks s/he’s in the right. (Rather than keep using s/he and her/him, I’m going to use masculine pronouns, even though we know women can be villains, too.) Psychopaths are different and not the subject of this post.
A good villain has his own GMC. When we’re writing our stories, we need to write our villain’s Goal, Motivation, and Conflict, as well as the main characters. What does he want, why, and what’s preventing him from getting it? The goal can be admirable—supporting family, retrieving what’s been stolen—or not, but understandable. Revenge, greed, righting a wrong.
I enjoy reading stories where the reader doesn’t know who the villain is. In my Alex O’Hara PI mystery series, the stories are written in Alex’s point of view. The reader only knows what she knows. As the story unfolds, she (and the reader) sees the clues and red herrings and doesn’t know which to trust. When the villain reveals himself, it’s a surprise for Alex. Is it a surprise for the reader? I hope so, but I never underestimate the intelligence of readers.
In my Outer Rim science fiction romances, the villain is identified right off the bat. Hallart, a gangster, wants to rule the galaxy. Drugs, prostitution, extortion, racketeering. If it’s illegal, Hallart is into it. The reader knows in the first book, The Pilot, that Hallart is a villain. Either he or his minions are the villains in each story. What the reader doesn’t know is who are his minions. Hopefully, that will be a surprise. For reader satisfaction, the minions are caught, or at least identified. And, good minions that they are, they won’t help the authorities capture their boss.
Eventually, Hallart has to be stopped. That’s at the center of the fourth Outer Rim Novel, The Spy, my work in progress. As I write the last book in the series, I haven’t figured out how, but I do know who will bring him down. If I accomplish my goal, The Spy will be available in late fall.
Developing a good villain can be a challenge. The writer can’t let the villain take over the story. But, the writer can’t write so little that the villain is flat. Finding a balance is the key. For a writer, understanding the villain, what makes him tick, makes a great story.
Alex O’Hara PI mysteries
Outer Rim Novels
About the Author
Diane Burton combines her love of mystery, adventure, science fiction and romance into writing romantic fiction. Besides the science fiction romance Switched and Outer Rim series, she is the author of One Red Shoe, a romantic suspense, and the Alex O’Hara PI mystery series. She is also a contributor to two anthologies: Portals, Volume 2 and How I Met My Husband. Diane and her husband live in West Michigan. They have two children and five grandchildren.
For more info and excerpts from her books, visit Diane’s website: http://www.dianeburton.com
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Goodreads: Diane Burton Author
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