Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Tip for Tuesday
We love to hate villains. One of my favorite new shows is the FBI drama Criminal Minds. I've been watching reruns on ION television, and I started watching the new shows on Wednesdays on CBS.
The premise of the show: A group of FBI agents called the Behavioral Analysis Unit fly around the country and track down serial killers/violent criminals using profiling. One interesting thing to me is that though these criminals are sometimes sociopaths, more often there is usually some inciting incident in their lives or some experience they've had that sets them on the road to evil.
Which has me thinking about the bad guys in our fiction. We often spend lots of time with our heroes and heroines examining their backstory and their motivations. But what about our villains? Why are they the way they are? What is it that they want, and why do they want it?
We need to remember that there are very few true sociopaths (thankfully) in the world today. If you talk to many who might be considered villains, their behavior is, to them, rational, necessary, and only a means to get what they want.
Today's tip is: examine your villain's motives and make sure he's a well-fleshed out person. Give him a reason to do what he does, and give him some softer characteristic. My current villain is one by accident. His jealousy led him to do something that had far-reaching ramifications that he never intended. But once on this road, he can't seem to stop the avalanche he's started, and eventually, that one initial act will be his downfall.
Question for you: Are you creating believable villains? What tips do you have regarding writing bad guys?