Fiction

Humanize your Villains

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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You cannot have a story that does not have heroes and villains. Otherwise, you don’t have a story. You need bad guys to create conflict and you need good guys to reduce the conflict and bring the plot to a final resolution. Or do you? Warner doesn’t seem to think so. Suicide Squad is a story about dangerous convicted supervillains who are forced to work together for the greater good. The government assembles a team of the worst criminals by either promising shorter prison sentences and by the threat of death to complete covert and sometimes heinous tasks. Something a supervillain should enjoy. There are no good guys, only a group of bad guys working together in the interests of the government. How do you move the plot forward with only villains? Two ways:  Humanize them. Write their backstory: their childhood, their mentors, persons of influence, traumatic events, chemical or […]

Villains in the World and on the Page

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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A few years ago, I visited friends out in the country. They were regular church attendees and out of respect to their hospitality I went with them.The church was a large and lovely building with beautiful stained glass windows and hand carved woodwork. That’s where the grace ended.The minister’s foot had barely settled behind the pulpit stand when he began his sermon: “One of the problems with society today,” he said. “Is fags.”I hoped (prayed, if you like) that he meant cigarettes. I would have stood and applauded at that. But he didn’t. He meant homosexuals. (He said it as if it were three words: homo-sex-uals.)I stood and walked out.In life and in books there are three kinds of villains. If you write fiction, you likely know about two of them: the guy you think is the big bad guy, and the guy who pursues you after you defeat the […]

Is Your Current Villain Ready to Be Your Next Hero?

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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What’s the difference between a villain and a hero? The same thing that’s different between a terrorist and a freedom fighter: perception. A hero believes that he is good and on the side of good and will help achieve good. A villain believes the same thing. The main difference is in the character’s motivation. Good guys often are motivated by a goal that benefit more than themselves. Villains are motivated by their own agendas.For example, a mother may be motivated to sever ties with the father of her child. For a hero this would be for reasons that would protect the child, for example if the father is abusive. For a villain, this would be for personal reasons such as her fury for his having left her. To the outside world though, both would present the same way since villains are rarely self-aware or honest.So how do you tell the difference? By […]

How I Killed Darth Vader and Lived to Write About It

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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It happened last Tuesday. By mistake. Before my eyes flashed all the Star Wars movies where Jedis tried and failed to kill him. And yet here we were…Him dead and me standing over him, bereft. Star Wars Episode 7 – The Force Awakens will be in theaters worldwide at the end of 2015. The creators released a trailer displaying the mask of the Sith Lord–Darth Vader–leaving the fans of this franchise wondering–is Darth Vader alive?  In Star Wars Episode 3 – The Revenge of the Sith Obi Wan Kenobi assumed Vader would die from his injuries sustained on the volcanic planet Mustafar. Even to the Emperor’s or Lord Sidious’s surprise: “There he is. He’s still alive. Get a medical capsule, immediately.” Despite losing his legs and being nearly completely burnt, Darth Vader survived. And a good thing too. As Lord Vader is the main protagonist and eventual hero of the story.  Back […]

In a Story Far Far Away…Who’s The Hero Anyway?

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by Rudy DeesArticle Categories: ,

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In the original Star Wars trilogy many fans, myself included, believed that Luke Skywalker is the hero and Darth Vader is the villain.  As we watch Episodes IV-VI the characters develop before our eyes as the follow the hero’s journey as illustrated by Joseph Campbell. For example, Luke Skywalker is mentored by Yoda and Obi Wan Kenobi and assisted by his friends Han Solo and Leia Organa as his is prepares to take on the villain by himself and save the galaxy. On the other hand, Darth Vader is trained and mentored by Darth Sidious and Lord Vader becomes the most powerful and most feared presence in the galaxy. At the end of Episode VI Darth Vader dies and Darth Sidious falls to his “death” into the shaft of the Death Star. And there you have it… end of story… Villains are dead and Luke Skywalker is the hero. Or […]

The Strengths of Villainy – Making Fictional Villains Come Alive

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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Villains are some of the most fascinating characters to write. At least, when they’re done right. The two-dimensional villain who runs around the book doing bad things for bad reasons because he’s just plain bad…well, that’s not only boring, but also becomes predictable. The best villains are those characters who—deep down—believe that they are the heroes of the story. There’s that old adage that one person’s freedom fighter is another person’s terrorist. Same concept should apply to all great fiction villains.Here are the musts for villains who will stand out and remain in the heads (and hearts) of the reader:Make him sympathetic. The reader needs to know enough about what made this person evil in the context of the book. Show us enough of his backstory to inspire some sympathy.Make him real. This means that he has to be more than just bad, and mean more in the grand scheme of […]

Friends, Allies and Enemies — Who They Are & How To Portray Them

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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The part of the Hero’s Journey that always tripped me up was the Allies and Enemies portion. I get the basic elements of how to create enemy characters. Enemies are the proverbial scary monsters who want to destroy or devour the hero either physically or metaphorically. Or, on a more subtle level, they are the snotty upstart colleagues who sabotage the hero’s efforts in success.Sure, those are easy. But how does the hero befriend a stranger? Or turn an enemy into a potential ally?It occurred to me in one of those holy crap moments that I don’t know how to make friends. No, I’m not a dumb blond (most of the time anyway). So how did I miss this grand revelation for so long?By having lots of friends. The reason I was able to miss out on the basic courting rituals of friendship is that most of my friends are extroverts […]

Use Subtleties of Language to Reveal Character

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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Perhaps Shakespeare should have said “What’s in a Word?” but then he knew the power of language and how a subtle change of word choice or position could imbue the dialogue with a deeper meaning or double-entendre.  Dialogue is perhaps the most important literary device in the writer’s arsenal because it works to further all the other elements including plot, tension, and character development. But how can one word change everything? Watch and see how swapping one word for another can change the implied meaning of the phrase, and reveal character at the same time. Since the examples use synonyms, it might seem surprising how much is revealed about the speaker through such a subtle language change.  “You are so dumb.” “You are so uneducated.”   “You are ill educated.”   Whichever of the three examples best depicts how your character would normally speak can show his level of education, […]

How to Write & Edit Multiple Point Of View Books – Tips by Author Lesley James

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by Karyn ConnorArticle Categories: ,

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What is the hardest part of writing a male voice convincingly? LJ: To be perfectly honest I found Edward’s voice surprisingly easy. I grew up with five brothers and have always worked in a male dominated industry, so I’m bombarded daily with the way the male mind works.Having a character map helps. I have boards in my study full of notes, dates, images and history for all the characters’ lives. I studied them before writing each character’s point of view and imagined how they would feel and think. I would compare it to an actor getting into a part before a performance.Writing both books at the same time and not in chronological order was the greatest challenge. I wrote one scene as Lizzy and then wrote Edward’s version, remembering to switch personalities as I went.What is the greatest difference between male and female characters in the same scenes?LJ: I write with […]

How to Create Distinct Fantasy & Sci-Fi Characters, an Interview with Michael Panush

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by Carrie De SimasArticle Categories: ,

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What is the most important element in creating fantasy characters? MP: I would say that giving all your character’s a coherent past and backstory. Whenever I create a character, I start with a basic description, but then I go back and write down a quick biography – where they were born, to what social standing, what events have shaped them – and rely on that when creating their personalities. The character of Roscoe, the hot rod-riding zombie and protagonist of the Rot Rods series, isn’t aware of his past until halfway through the book, but it still affects his personality. How do you make your characters seem both real and sympathetic when they are (pardon the stealing of your wording here!) paranormal, the supernatural and the just plain weird? MP: The ‘realness’ of a character comes from giving them a history – or putting them into real history. To make […]