NOT YOUR USUAL SUSPECTS

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Friday, April 22, 2011

THIS MAY TAKE MORE WORK…

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?

Marcelle
http://www.marcelledube.com/

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21 comments:

Cathy in AK said...

...bad guys aren’t necessarily evil, or even bad. They could be normal people pushed into desperate action by extraordinary circumstances...

Good point here, Marcelle. I've often heard the adage, "Villains are the heroes of their own stories." They believe they are doing right, or at least feel justified for something they know is wrong. In the words of one of my favorite villains Dr. Horrible (who, admittedly, calls himself evil and wants to join the Evil League of Evil): "The world's a mess and I need to rule it." See? He just wants to fix things :)

Toni Anderson said...

Absolutely. I totally agree :)
I also agree that being mean is hard work. Wears me out just thinking about it.

MaureenAMiller said...

I can't wait to read Shoeless Kid.

And I believe that being nice is going to get you farther in this world than being mean ever will.

I think you are nice...and I want to read your book, therefore you are a success! :)

Wynter Daniels said...

Well said. Villains are way more believable when they didn't necessarily set out to be as bad as they have become.

DeAnna said...

If you have a hard time being evil, then you have a hard time imagining unintended consequences, or people who will do whatever it takes in order to achieve something good.

What would a parent do to save a child? A LOT of evil things.

What would you do to achieve your dreams? If someone said, "Oh, that would inconvenience me...you must be evil!" would you care, as long as you hadn't violated your own code of ethics? Maybe not. Maybe you'd just think of that person as being whiny/overly picky. "You can't kill earthworms! That's evil!"

Just push it further :)

Shelley Munro said...

I've heard it said that the hero and villain have similar qualities and are cast from the same coin. They take slightly different paths when circumstances force them into conflict. Sometimes a villain is even scarier when we can see ourselves in them.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Okay, Cathy -- I had to google "Dr. Horrible". Would you believe I had never heard of it? So, if I understand you correctly, villains aren't bad. They're just misunderstood.

Cathy in AK said...

Oh, Marcelle, you have *got* to watch "Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog"! It is the best, and really gives an interesting view of villains. Plus, it's by Joss Whedon and his brothers, starring Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion. You won't be sorry : )

But yes, villains can be quite misunderstood ; )

Marcelle Dubé said...

Toni, I say don't even try it. Safer that way.

Thanks, Maureen. I think you're nice, too, release mate. Can't wait to read Endless Night.

Wynter, I really like the idea of someone not setting out to be a villain. A little empathy for the bad "guy" really adds layers to a story.

Marcelle Dubé said...

DeAnna, I think you've put your finger on it. The motivation has to be powerful. I've pretty much accepted that I'm not evil, or even very bad, but threaten my children and you're dead meat, buster. Not you, DeAnna. Someone else. You know--the bad guy. No wait. *I'm* the bad guy... now I'm getting confused...

Marcelle Dubé said...

I *love* the idea that the villain is scarier because he/she reminds you of yourself. Good point, Shelley.

Cathy, I'm going to check out "Dr. Horrible" right now!

Claire Eamer said...

I have failed you, as a friend, in not making sure you knew about Doctor Horrible. I blush! No wonder you can't find your evil twin! I shall try to do better in future.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Dr. Horrible is wonderful! Thanks, Cathy, for pointing the show out to me. Claire, I may never forgive you!

Cathy in AK said...

My pleasure, Marcelle. We have the DVD and the musical commentary special feature is as fun, if not more so, than the show.

Karen Abrahamson said...

The other thing to remember, Marcelle, is that being 'bad', doesn't just mean you have to write evil villins, it also means you have to be able to do horrible things to your characters, instead of letting them off easy.

Russ said...

Great post, Marcelle, you're absolutely dead-on (yes, intended pun ). Even evil people were once babies. Hitler even had a mother (as unbelievable as that sounds!)

Keep shooting for mean in your fiction, You're a wonderful writer and i know you can do it.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Karen, that's how this whole subject came up. Trying to figure out how to do "bad" things to my characters; which essentially means letting bad things happen to them.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Russ. Maybe if I save the "mean" scenes for when I'm cranky...

Shirley Wells said...

I love it when my bad guys are really good guys who've simply been pushed to the end of their tether.

And I can't wait to read The Shoeless Kid. It has one of my favourite Carina covers ever.

Marcelle Dubé said...

Thanks, Shirley -- I'm partial to the cover, too!

Clare London said...

*sigh* I feel the same! I don't like reading villains who are two-dimensional moustache-twiddling bullies, but it's very hard to make a villain both evil *and* sympathetic :).

My favourites are characters who are just like the hero - but one step removed. Just one step to the left - one different decision in life - one wrong turning they can't return from. And so their path is set.

*mwahaha*

You've inspired me to write something now *lol*.

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