I recently realized that I’m not very good at villains–or, I’m not as good as I thought. This was a weird thing to realize but it kind of makes sense because I’ve gone through one over-dramatic, Disney-extravagant villain after another for SAAFire and I still don’t know what the point is. What do they want???
Side note: This is actually really exciting because I simultaneously realized I have so much more exploration of SAAFire to do and I was worried that it would start to get stale with the rewrite!
On top of that, I am about as subtle as a tiger in a petting zoo with my foreshadowing and laying the foundation for my deliciously vicious villain to make his grand entrance. If I added a picture of a neon sign with my villain’s name in the second chapter, it wouldn’t be any more or less obvious than how I have it now.
So, I sat down to do a character interview of my villain. After working out some cool ideas with The Wandering Penguins, I now actually have two male characters I don’t know anything about–my antagonist and the guy everyone thinks is the antagonist until about halfway through the book when there is an EPIC reveal that *gasp* it’s actually this other dude!
Okay, writing that out makes it sound totally stupid and now I’m doubting the rough outline for that scene but you know what? It’s going to be awesome and that’s just how it’s going to be.
But, did I mention that I’m bad at bad guys? Most of my character interview (I’m using K.M. Weiland’s format for Scrivener, for interested parties) has consisted of me staring at the screen and mentally screaming at my character.
The weirdest part is that I’ve pretty much got a grasp of the basics. I already want a villain who is:
- identifiable (not a faceless organization)
- relatable (having redeeming qualities and an understandable motive for his actions)
- is not a generic Batman villain in disguise
- with his own personal motivations (that happen to be counter to the protagonists’)
- just as capable/powerful as the protagonists (so they have a fair fight)
- he can’t smirk (my secondary protagonist has a sort of monopoly on smirking in SAAFire)
- may or may not be inspired by Lucifer from Supernatural
- may or may not be inspired by Loki from Avengers
- may or may not be a mash-up inspired by the cool-and-smooth Lucifer and wicked-and-unpredictable Loki
- will be as colorful/stylized as a Disney villain
But I haven’t quite worked out what will go in each of those buckets (only that the end result will be spectacular). My villain is indoctrinated into a Nazi-like organization so I have to both forward that larger agenda and create his own personal motivations while making him someone you could imagine seeing on the street. Sounds easy, right?
Too bad I can’t interrogate him into telling me his whole backstory and future plans like he interrogates my protagonist.
Wait…that could be a really interesting writing exercise…
While I work out how to make my villain up to my standards, what ingredients do you add to your antagonists to spice them up and make readers believe in them? Leave a comment below!