NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

A group blog featuring an international array of killer mystery, suspense, and romantic suspense writers. With premises and story lines different from your run-of-the-mill whodunits, we tend to write outside the box. We blog several times a week on all topics relating to romantic suspense and mystery, our writing, and our readers. We welcome all comments and often have guest bloggers. All our authors can be contacted separately, too, using their own social media links.

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Monday, August 15, 2016

Villain, Villain, Who's Got the Villain?

by Janis Patterson

I like villains. I have to watch myself when writing and make sure the villain is not more attractive, intelligent and believable than the hero.
Why? I don’t know. Perhaps it has something to do with the aspect of danger a villain exudes. I’ve always liked the bad boys. No – not the scruffy, unshaven, semi-clothed bad boy of some romance fiction; while I realize they are very popular I don’t care for them at all. They all look as if they don’t smell very well. My favored bad boys own tuxedoes, dance well, probably are very knowledgeable about wines and are capable of anything to get what they want.
And therein lies the essence of a villain – they will do just about anything to get (or protect) their desire without respect to laws, rules or morals. Whatever it is that they want depends on them, and it does not have to make sense to us. Some person will kill to ensure that the secret of their great-grandmother’s infidelity remains secret just as easily as another will commit all kinds of mayhem to gain ownership of great riches or yet another will kill to protect his freedom.
So – in order to create a believable villain you don’t have to worry so much about what is at stake, but what it means to them. It has to be more important to him than anything.
Another thing is to be sure that your villain is a well-rounded human being – unless you want the old straight from a melodrama mustache-twisting, blackhearted Snidely Whiplash. One dimensional characters are too obvious – they never work and they are unworthy opponents for your sleuth. The idea of any person committing crimes, especially if it involves considerable risk to themselves, for the abstract concept of Evil belongs in cartoons. It can and has been done, but to my mind works only when the villain is a certified loony-tune. In most mysteries the villain isn’t known until the solution, so you don’t want your bad guy being obvious from the beginning, which means he has to blend in with the rest of your characters. And therein lies danger… at least for me.

Like I said, I like bad boys and have to keep a tight rein on the story to keep them from taking over the story. No matter how hard one tries to keep the hero from turning into a Dudley Do-Right of perfection and yet still keep them both real and interesting, villains are automatically (for me at least) much more nuanced and believable. 

6 comments:

Sandy Cody said...

I understand how you feel. I like bad boys too and especially favor the intelligent, crafty ones.

Jacqueline Seewald said...

I agree that all characters need to be fully developed including the evil villains.
Otherwise the story won't be interesting. Human being are not all good or all bad.

Anne Marie Becker said...

Love those bad boys! (Yes, the clean, nice-smelling, good-dancing type. *grin*) Intelligence is such a turn on! (The evil...not so much. LOL)

Radine Trees Nehring said...

What fun! After all, villains are at least as necessary in our stories as all other characters. We spend a lot of time with them as we write--and why would we want to spend that time on the dark side with totally evil creeps? Radine

Elise Warner said...

Villains can add an unexpected twist to our plots. Bring 'em on.

Jeremy said...

In fantasy the villains are often much more obvious. Powerful gods of chaos, mischievous demons, and sorcerers who are far too curious about the dark arts for their own good. Evil itself sometimes has its own identity. The better villains though, arguably, are exactly the ones you describe. The less obvious ones, the well-rounded ones, and my personal favorite, the ones whose villainy seems to be thrust upon them. :-) Great blog!

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