Monday, December 29, 2008

Reflection about Villains

I find myself playing with the idea of villains a lot in my stories.

In the books I read I love finding an antagonist that has a reason for being the villain. That they aren't just acting as a foil for the hero for the sake of the hero having someone to fight against. The better the reason, and the more complex the background (even if it's only hinted at in the story), the more I tend to enjoy that character. Simple example: Severus Snape as an antagonist. He isn't a villain, ultimately, but there are numerous times throughout the series where he's in opposition to Harry Potter. What I find compelling is that he basically loathes Harry throughout the series, but they're both "good" guys. The question of whether he's an ally or not is turned on its head quite a few times, and especialy at the end of the sixth book (being in fact, a huge part of the promotion for the seventh book).

Anyway, I was thinking about my own writing (-not- I assure in comparison to HP, just generally thinking about the two novels I've been working on), and I find it’s never enough to just have a person to label the bad guy, even if they have perfectly reasonable reasons to be the villain.

Instead, I have one novel where the “villain” is essentially a child that wants a mother, along with the servant who guards and cares for him. In the novel I’m currently working on (and providing the daily word counts), there are multiple villains, and some surprises thrown in. The two main characters are chasing one ‘bad guy,’ but it’s pretty clear that two other characters aren’t so nice, and can be considered villains although some of their goals overlap with the heroes’. Then there is Guy 1’s friends, neither of whom are what they seem and one of whom's motivation is in direct opposition to the heroes, but isn't a villain. And Guy 2’s friends, who seem friendly at first, and again, have the same goals at the heroes, but one has darker motives, i.e. villainous, than the other, though they work together.

Perhaps this tendency of mine has risen to the surface because of this latter bok--I have the added challenge at taking that complex interweaving of action, relationship and motivation (explained in a rather mangled "concise but vague" manner above) and making it seem natural. That the revelations of the two main characters occur at times that make sense and that the people who seemed to be allies but aren't have their motivations well explained--trying to avoid the sense of "what, why is he really a bad guy, I thought they were friends" or worse "that explanation makes no damn sense, what is this writer thinking?"

I like a complex antagonist. Can you tell? More than complex, I love throwing in that uncertainty. Is the villain as villainous as they seem, or are those friends really acting in the protagonist’s best intentions?

Thus were my thoughts earlier today and last night.

I took a break from the writing for the holidays, so here's the word counts:

To refresh your memories Day 5 was Monday, the 22nd of December and I finished that day at 31,342.

Day 6, Tuesday Dec 23: end of day--32, 232 words, so 890 words, least amount so far for a day when I did write.

Day 7, Wednesday Dec 24: 0 words, but allowed for the holliday

day 8, Thursday Dec 25: 0 words, but also allowed for the holiday, and I was in the kitchen for most of teh day helping with the dinner.

Day 9, Friday Dec 26: end of day--32,896, so 664 words for the day, new low (I didn't realize it was only that much, but it's better than nothing, this whole period was off because of the holiday)

Day 10, Saturday Dec 27: 0 words, it was a run-around day that wore me out.

Day 11, Sunday Dec 28: end of day--37,062, so 4,166 words for the day. Getting back in the groove.

Day 12, Monday Dec 29: I'm still writing and am currently at 38,483, which is 1,421 for the day. I am still working on it, though. It's been a slow day because I let myself get distracted by the TV and the internet. Hence my doing this now. I'm so close to 40,000 I'd love to get there before I go to bed, but if I keep the internet window open I won't reach that goal, so this is my update and I'll edit it tomorrow with today's final word count.

Until then, happy continued holidays and happy writing to all.

EDIT: Last word for yesterday, Day 12--40,132 words, for a total word count of 3,070. Not too shabby. Today is starting off a bit slower.

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