In my last blog, I confessed that I wasn’t evil enough and needed to become meaner if I was to create a credible bad guy. I promised I’d work on my evil-twin side and report back on my success.
Well. It turns out there’s not much to report.
Being mean—let alone evil—is work. It’s hard to go against a lifetime of conditioning. Sort of like learning to eat healthy when you’ve always been able to eat whatever you want. (Not that this has been my personal experience, you understand.)
Even when I had an impulse to lash out with a cutting comment or place a metaphoric tack on someone’s seat, I resisted. Why? Because there’s a reason we’re polite. We are social creatures and have developed conventions and customs that allow us to live tightly packed in small spaces without killing each other.
I learned, however, that my inner bad guy rises much closer to the surface when I’m cranky and tired. It becomes oh so easy to sharpen my tongue on friends and family. But that’s as bad as I get. More like an inner bitch than an inner bad guy.
I did have an insight, however. An acquaintance made a mistake. It was a stupid mistake, involving another friend, but instead of owning up to it, she proceeded to dig herself in deeper and deeper until it all fell apart. Slow motion car wreck.
So if I extend this experience to fiction, I find that bad guys aren’t necessarily evil, or even bad. They could be normal people pushed into desperate action by extraordinary circumstances—sort of like heroes.
My latest villain appears in The Shoeless Kid, on May 16, from Carina Press. Check it out and see if he—or she—meets your criteria for a good villain. What about you? Any favourite villains?