I’ve rambled on about flat characters before. Then I discovered this post by Lisa Alber. She writes on how to make a fantastic villain. And you need a good villain, you need a great villain to take your story from good to great.
A great villain is someone that we love to hate. It’s someone we like just a little bit; they are redeemable enough that we want to hear about them yet they’re terrible enough that we hate them anyway. You know they’re good when they keep us turning the pages. More than anything else, we want that evil person to face the music and pay for what they’ve done. They can’t stupid or illogical, they have to be smart, even a little brilliant and nasty to the bone. They can easily carry that story to the end.
But how do you get one? Hm. I’m thinking of my book, Amy’s Courage and the villains in it (yes, more than one). I think I need to revisit them. Because Lisa Alber has some very, very good suggestions on how to make these characters rich and juicy and simply delicious. Characters you love to hate. And the chance to make my book better is too good to pass up.
I was at a work meeting and a coworker stood up and said one of the nastiest comments I have ever heard. It wasn’t nasty because it was rude or because it was filled with swear words. No. This one was nasty because it hit below the belt and it left no prisoners.
While everyone around me huffed and puffed in anger, I wrote it down. Later, I changed it until it was even nastier and suited to the situation then gave it to the villain in my story.
Oh, it was so good! My villain went from wanna-be nasty to awful in three short words. Gold! It was gold.
I find character-helpers like that pop up in life everywhere. Real people are full of quirky bits and interesting facts. Some are odd and greet me with “Hi, Superchick! How is it going on the planet?” Others are still so full of rage, they can harness anger with only a few words.
I find kindness is easy to write but true nastiness, someone you love to hate…well that takes talent. I don’t like a simple villain. I like ones that are complicated and have redeemable qualities. Sometimes the inspiration is all around me.
Still, I got a few puzzled looks at the staff meeting. I guess, they didn’t get why I was smiling after the vile comment.
What about you? Do others in life inspire you? Do you find villains easy to write?