Monday, November 15, 2010

Creating a Villain's Villainy

"An excellent man, like a precious metal, is in every way invariable. A villain, like the beams of a balance, is always varying, upwards and downwards." John Locke

Over the weekend, I attended a fabulous all day workshop (at the monthly OVRWA chapter meeting) presented by authors Laura Baker and Robin L. Perini. Discovering Story Magic explored the integral relationship between character, conflict, plot, realization and turning points in producing salable fiction.

The information I received is much too plentiful to put into a blog post, but I do want to share an exercise Ms. Perini suggested in creating a villain.

Pick an "inciting incident" from your own life and spend three minutes writing about it in first person, present tense.  An inciting incident is a change that affected you in a bad or sad way. 

Then take that same inciting incident and pick one of the following villains: Hannibal Lector, the Wicked Witch of the West, or Lex Luthor. Now, write about it in first person present tense from the point of view of the villain you chose (be sure to stick with that same villain).

Perhaps the sadness of a grandmother's death to you, could bring happiness to the Wicked Witch, since your loving grandmother was an obstacle to her power. Maybe the sadness you felt after a friend moved would be joyful to Lex Luthor, who wanted him out of the way, since Lex's parents always compared the friend unfavorably to little Lex.  Or how about a  decision to drop out of medical school?  Disappointing, although the right choice for you, but Hannibal Lector regrets it and vows to go back.

So--you are your own villain! Think you'll give this exercise a try?

Tweet me @: maria_mckenzie. Thanks for stopping by!


Joanna St. James said...

definitely I am writing my first villian and I need some motivation and backstory on the dude.

Lorelei Bell said...

I've been trying to get a hold of my villain. Just deciding who it would be had been eluding me. And motiviation, what makes him tick would be another thing.

This sounds like a great exercise!

Old Kitty said...

What a great way to create a villain!!! Currently my villain has shades of my alter-ego - but this exercise would give me something to make me step back from my villain that I disturbingly relate to too much! Take care

Nas said...

Great post. Good way to create a villian, not that I'm creating one right now. But the advise will definitely come in handy!

Maria McKenzie said...

@Joanna: Have fun! Villains are so much fun to write:).

@Lorelei: Hope this exercise helps you get hold of that villain!

@Old Kitty: Sometimes we can relate to our villains too much!

@Nas: Maybe this exercise will inspire you to create a villian just for fun, or maybe to put into a later work!

Melissa said...

I always find villains more relatable than the heroes. I think it's almost easier to let yourself become the villain that be the hero. Does that make sense?

Maria McKenzie said...

Yes. It's certainly easier to write them. They say and do things I never would. Hmm...perhaps when I write my villains, I'm expressing repressed feelings:).

William Kendall said...

Great way to write a villain!

I think it helps to give them some measure of humanity in their motivations.

One character I'll be using down the line may be an amoral terrorist, but he's driven by the brutal murder of his father, and he's utterly loyal to his men.

Maria McKenzie said...

Glad you like the exercise! Villains do need a measure of humanity, otherwise they end up like Snideley Whiplash!

G.~ said...

I love this exercise Maria. Thank you for sharing it with us. I'm going to give it a try and I'll let you know how it goes.

The Words Crafter said...

I wrote about a few incidents on my blog, but never thought about doing it from the villain's pov. Fantastic idea!

Maria McKenzie said...

@G: Hi, G! Glad you like the exercise:). Looking forward to hearing how it goes!

@Words Crafter: I'd never thought about doing this either, but it's a great way to humanize the villain!