Monday, October 11, 2010
Villains, or are they?
I had an epiphany while chewing on these ideas. I've heard it said that the villain in a story isn't a villain in his own mind, that he doesn't view himself that way. As I am wont to do, I tried to take this out of 'writer speak land' and see what it looked like in real life, so I might work it over and find a way to translate it back into a story.
So, here's my epiphany.
EVERYBODY is the villain in somebody's story.
I am the villain in someone's story (probably more than one.) Though I would never cast myself as a villain or describe myself in those terms, I'm sure that in someone's life story, I would be cast as at least a minor villain. I've either wronged them, hurt their feelings, got something they wanted for themselves, ended a relationship...something. There are lots of reasons why someone might think I was a villain. :(
But my point is, when describing myself, I wouldn't cast myself as a villain, even though some people might see me as one. Conversely, though everyone is somebody's villain, everyone thinks of themselves as the hero of the story. Or at least a side-kick. I think of myself as a pretty good person overall.
This really drove home to me the idea that when writing a villain, from his/her point of view, it is so important to realize that they would NEVER cast themselves as the bad guy. They have reasons for what they do, what they do makes sense according to their moral code, and that to themselves, they are a pretty good person overall.
I've found this to be very helpful while casting the bad guy in my newest WIP. The bad guy does what he does out of desperation. It's an accident that snowballs out of control, and each step along the way, his desperation causes him to make choices that--while in his mind justifiable--are more and more wrong.
So, question for you...How do you write villains? Do you write pure evil, sociopaths with no conscience and no redeeming qualities? Have you ever considered that you might be the villain in someone else's life story?