Ah, the antagonist. The demon or dastardly dude who gives the hero or heroine a chance to test his or her mettle. We’ve all see them. We’ve bumped up against them, tussled with them in darkened alleys. Maybe we’ve even been a villain to someone else. I’ve fought, shoved and pushed against the woman stalking my boyfriend, when he swore he didn’t want to be with her. Came away with bloody fingers, spells, yes, actual spells cast against me (by her and her voodoo priest) and my boyfriend engaged to be married to her. I’ve fought on behalf of groups, when asked to do so, only to be left with bruises and nothing to show for it. No one’s perfect, are we? And maybe villainy isn’t all its cutout to be.
What I love about crafting a villain: creating a villain allows you to give expression to your darkest thoughts. To present thoughts, feelings and actions to the world in a manner you’d be arrested for if you or your character actually did it. It’s great therapy. Everyone should take a stab at creating a villain. For instance, in my sci-fi suspense romance, Red Rex: Blood Echoes, I was having a particularly harsh summer. Being bullied by a real bitch. I purged my feelings through writing Rex and, in the end, stood up for myself and got out of her line of fire. I get it – life seldom follows a straight path. I thought this person was to be a blessing. She ended up being a harsh lesson instead. Red Rex had his own lessons to learn. You see, Rex had dreams of losing his virginity to Emily, marrying her once he graduated, going pro as a soccer player and seeing the world. His life took an abrupt about face when he found his father to be the head of a very dark, extremely corrupt organization from another planet — dear old dad was the warrior ruler from the planet Deltarc, a group of aliens who feed off the Delta waves of sleeping unsuspected. Poor Rex was initiated in a bizarre ritual, leaving him scarred for life. Did he rise above? Did he pull it together and meet his destiny? Hell, yes! What’s the point of a good story if the hero can’t meet with foul play and come to learn he’s far greater than he ever imagined? That’s what a good villain is for.
I love to explore moral issues through writing stories. I ponder a lot. I can often see both sides. Sometimes, the motivation of a villain or a hero can change through the course of the story. What was once a desire to heal, becomes a simple quest for revenge. What appears like noble reasoning can simply be the love of a good fight, as is the case with one of my characters. In my contemporary series, Deuce is Wilder: Troubled, I came up with the villain Billy O’Reilly, a moneyed, trustifarian prick who thinks he can escape the consequences of his actions through his father’s money. His former buddy, our hero, Jace Savage butts up against him over and over and over again while he’s falling in love and trying to leave his life of trouble behind him. Maybe Jace doesn’t really want to. Maybe he’d rather cling to his bad boy ways. Maybe he gets off on a good scrap and winning the fight. He pings back and forth between his desire to vanquish Billy, his desire to save his drug addicted sister, and his longing to do the right thing and give his new girlfriend, Zoé, a life of passion and excitement. Fun times to be had.
We each carry moral convictions of right and wrong. Our convictions can change and be modified as we evolve and experience life. Reading about a villian, whether real or imagined, perhaps lets us see that we’re made of sterner stuff than we think we are. When that bad guy or woman gets their comeuppance, we cheer and applaud, thinking justice has been served. We rally for the underdog, cheer for the downcast, and love to see the opposing side get a really good trouncing. In life, as in fiction, may we all rise above.
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