Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Do You Love Your #Villains? By Barbara Bettis #WickedWednesday


WICKED WEDNESDAY

I love a good villain. And Barbara has a good point for us on Wicked Wednesday...there has to be something good in all that evil to make it interesting. Please read on and join the conversation.

The first thing that popped into my mind when I thought of a topic for Wicked Wednesday was—book villains.

Creating wicked villains was one of the hardest things to do when I started writing fiction. Since I write medieval, the bad guys were supposed to be pretty rough, like life then. Trouble was—and still is—I have a problem creating villains who are wicked enough to deserve the label. I don’t like to hurt any of my characters, even the bad guys (and I use that term to include gals too). So seeing they get their punishment comes hard for me.

It’s such fun creating these characters, I hate to do away with them. I keep wanting to reform them. It’s been said that every villain is the hero of his own story. So when trying to build the layers of that person, giving him reasons for behaving the way he does, I develop sympathy for him (or her).      

In an attempt to remedy that tendency, the second time I tried to develop a villain, the character turned out to be something of a stereotype. From the moment he stepped onto the page, you could tag him as ‘The Villain’. Well, that wasn’t good. So I had to work on changing up the characterization in that book.

But it took me four books to finally dispose of the one main villain threaded through them all. By the time his end came around, however, I was ready to do him in.

Not all villains have worked out that way. In my first book, I became so attached to the man who was
originally slotted for the part, I changed the plot. How? By reforming him—and bringing in the good, old reliable mean fellow from the first book. The one who went on to create problems through the next two.

I’ve come to accept this weakness and know to watch out for it so I never again have to change a plot because I’ve become too attached to a villain.

QUESTION: Does anyone else have trouble creating wicked characters?  How do you do it? Is there a wicked villain you grew attached to?

Follow my villains—good and bad—in: SILVERHAWK, THE HEART OF THE PHOENIX, THE LADY OF THE FOREST. And in the upcoming FOR THIS KNIGHT ONLY.

About Barb:
Former journalist and college professor, Barb has retired to become an editor and lady-who-likes-to-write-in-comfy-jammies.  She starts every day with tea, but firmly believe a home office isn’t complete without a coffee pot and a scented candle. And snacks.


22 comments:

  1. I don't mind villains, but I do love redemption, so mine usually have some good things going on, too. Great post, Barb.

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    1. It is a good post. Thanks for coming by, Liz.

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    2. I'm glad your villains have some good points, Liz! I loved a redeemed hero as well :)

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  2. Thanks for hosting me today, Brenda.I so enjoy your blogs :)

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  3. I tend to model (and name) my villains after people who were less than kind to me in the past, or after present-day ogres. Naming them after real people tends to allow me a deeper understanding of their motivations. Nobody is all bad, but in my opinion, some folks truly are beyond redemption.

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    1. That's true, Laura. And I like modeling them on unnice people from the past!

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  4. Great post! Sometimes you can't help but love the villain!

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    2. Sorry about removing -- but I had a dandy typo LOL. I've read some books that have redeemed the villains in subsequent books that have worked out well. One of the first was a Georgette Heyer Regency.

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  5. Yep, sometimes love my villain too much. I fully agree. In one of my books, I did the same as you reformed him and the next book n the series was his story. Enjoyed your post. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Tena, how funny. I just remarked that some villains were redeemed. Which book of yours was that? I don't know if I've read that one--thought I had all of yours. Hmmm. Email me :) I want to make sure I have it.

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  6. I love villains. They're so complex and fun to write.

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  7. Nothing better than a reformed villain! Great interview.

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    1. Reformed villains. So they can't be too bad to begin with--which is what makes the tricky to create, right? :)

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  8. I kinda, sorta, like writing villains! My latest - wow, I love him. He is both strong and weak, a wee bit messed up, and completely flawed with his own character arc...but I think the readers will find sympathy with him but alas, he is still the villain and I won't let him steal the show. I found the Ackerman and Puglisi Thesaurus series (pos and neg traits, emotional wounds) helpful in defining my protagonists and my villains.

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  10. [Sorry about that – my post had glaring problems. I'm trying again.]

    Thanks for the interesting post, Barbara.
    I like writing villains but have to add some redeeming traits to keep them from becoming clich├ęs. But not too redeeming or sympathetic, just enough to keep them three-dimensional. I like to see them have their own story arc, too.
    Cat

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  11. I've had all sorts of villains, from unredeemable sociopaths to some that were more simply misguided and weak. In my current book, a medieval, my villain is so devoted to his cause, he can't see past it. The main thing is that you have to properly motivate them and make them seem like real people. Interesting post!

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  12. When I create villains, I think about all the traits that make me angry with people, and I'm able to punish the bad behavior. Not all of them find a horrible end though. Great post!

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  13. Great post, Barbara! I will always remember what my editor told me during edits on my second book in a five book series. Be careful you don't back your villain into a corner. If he's going to be doing his evil deeds for five long stories, you don't want him to become predictable. Taking those words to heart, I created many layers to my villain and this also allowed me to expand my creativity with him. By the time I was finished writing the final book, I was extremely happy he met his demise.

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