Into The Darkside

bigpreview_Good And Evil

After reading the rough draft of one of my books, my sister asked me how in the world I could stomach writing the part of my villain?  In this case, the villain happened to be human.  Yes, that matters.  There are different types of villains, but we’ll get to that in a moment.  I couldn’t really give her a direct answer.  It wasn’t easy.  It definitely took a lot out of me.  It kind of made me sick to my stomach, but not in a long-lasting kind of way.  Just as with any of my other characters, once I was done purging the villain out onto the paper, he was no longer in my system.  I didn’t dwell on it – and as crazy as it sounds, my villains come to me just as out of the void, by some cosmic stroke of something, as my protagonists and sub characters do.  I don’t go looking for them.

On the off chance that I would need to go looking for one, I certainly wouldn’t run out of options in this day and age!  The range of villains has definitely expanded drastically over the decades, but with all of the horror movies and Law & Order type TV shows filling up our DVRs, I think we’ve become kind of numb to the terror they used to instill in their audience, making it difficult to come up with a unique villain or even just a ‘bad guy’ that would actually scare someone.

That’s where we get into the different types of villains.  Fortunately, I’m not in the business of writing horror, so I don’t actually need to focus as much attention to the details of my villains, but I will try to cover the majority of my perspective on various kinds.

The Human Villain

Top of the list, because they are the most frightening.  The human villain is us.  We all have a darker side.  We can relate, even sympathize with some of the reasons why the villain crossed that line and those reasons are far too varied to list.  For the same reason why psychological thrillers scare me far more than slasher movies do, the human villain will never lose its potency, because it can really happen.  Because, there are human villains in the world, we see them in the news all of the time.  Here’s more of a breakdown of our choices:

The human condition: That long list of mental illnesses that are attributed to crime (i.e. sociopaths, schizophrenia, narcissism, etc.)

The product of circumstance: Abused, neglected, ridiculed, bullied, etc.

The fanatic: Terrorists, bigots, lynch mobs, Nazis, ‘witch hunters’, etc.

Now, in general there’s really only two types of human villain in a story… the one that has always been that way and demands no sympathy from the reader, or the one that we experience deteriorating into depravity over time and typically through trials of emotional/mental trauma that pulls at our own fears and emotions, thus allowing us to empathize with them on some level, even if we wouldn’t make the same bad choices.  Both can be very powerful options in writing, depending on your storyline.

The 7 Deadly Sins Villain

Okay, I have to confess… Religious horror movies scare the crap out of me.  There.  Now you know.  The Exorcist, Omen, Rosemary’s Baby, The Seventh Sign, Stigmata… (my skin is crawling).  It’s just creepy.  But how does that apply to villains in the written word? The use of the 7 deadly sins.

  • Pride
  • Greed
  • Sloth (I’m looking at you Michael Meyers.  I could’ve run to Mexico by the time it takes you to cross a street.)
  • Lust
  • Envy
  • Gluttony
  • Wrath

Attribute just one of these to a villain’s personality and you have an endless spectrum of misdeeds they’re capable of.  While most villains – like most of us – have more than one of these sins to blame for their behavior, you can’t deny that many a memorable villain was wrapped around just one major no-no. #1 has to be Lust for Power (cough, Senator Palpatine, cough).  I’ll let y’all sort out the order of the other 6.

The Specter Villain

I’m not talking about possessed dolls, but of those villains that are more spectral than anything else, kind of like how Voldemort was for most of the Harry Potter books until The Goblet of Fire.  He was still able to be a very powerful and convincing villain, even without a body. The villains in a lot of the Native American legends were more ‘spirit’ than corporeal, and also many ancient cultures attributed the elements to the more ‘villainous’ types of deities. A few others may include:

  • The legend of the Mothman (though it is still debatable on whether that’s a villain or an early warning of major disaster).
  • The Jinn
  • Banshees
  • Lillith

The Supernatural Villain

The supernatural villain is a little more detached than the others, because – duh – they’re supernatural.  Which means that they don’t have to have a single iota of humanity within them what.so.ever.  They don’t have to have a reason why they’re evil, they could be evil incarnate itself. There’s no limit.  I’d like to say that I always try to make my villains easier to relate to in order to add that depth, those layers for the reader, but it really just depends on the storyline.  Here’s more of a breakdown as to some of the different kinds of supernatural villains there are:

  • The Myth/Legend Villain: Uhhh… take your pick.  The Minotaur, Giants, Dragons, Vampires, Mummies, etc.
  • The Religious Villain: Satan, Demons, Fallen Angels, Hades, Titans, etc.
  • The Powers Villains: Witches, Warlocks, Sorcerers, Gypsies, etc.
  • The I Just Made That One Up Villain:  Because supernatural covers an endless source of creativity…

The Alien Villain

Kinda self-explanatory, that one.

And finally:

The Hero Villain

I’m torn down the middle on this one.  It is either my least favorite or my all time favorite.  It just depends on how the hero villain is constructed.  A prime example of a hero villain would be (drum roll please) Darth Vader.  Everyone knows why, and if you don’t know why, smack yourself upside the head right now.  Vader is an example of a good kind of hero villain – now that episodes 1-3 have been released.  It’s believable that in the end, he would sacrifice himself to save his son, turning his back on his villainous ways and all that good stuff.  If you’re crying spoiler alert, smack yourself again.

The irritating hero villain that I absolutely abhor is the “I see the light” one.  No offense to all you light-seers out there.  In the form of fiction, though, the whole “something major happens and the villain does a 180 into a hero” finale is just too Hallmark, Lifetime, Disney for my taste.  A hero villain should struggle with their unexpected desire to be better and that struggle should be left hanging at the end of the book.  They’re off to a good start, but you (as the reader) know that they’re still going to have to work on it.  It’s that premise of hope that leaves a lasting feeling of satisfaction, rather than a “What?!  Are you kidding me?  That was a waste of my time!” feeling.

Even if the hero villain has completed their 180 by the end of the book, it should still be at a more realistic pace.  Yes, I know! Realism in fiction? Go figure!

Thanks for stopping by for this trip into the Darkside.  Sorry, I ate all the cookies before you got here.  That still doesn’t mean the contract wasn’t binding…minion.  😀

♥ The Overlord

Wild Words Wednesday

I’m extraordinarily excited that it’s the 1st of October! Perhaps, because this month signifies the Fall Season far more nostalgically than September or November for me.  Or perhaps, because it is now officially one month until the release of The Zen Lounge.  Either way, I’m brimming with energy this morning.

To add even more zest to my coffee, my second cover ad went up over at Love, Lust and Lipstick Stains this morning!  If you have a moment, you should go check their site out here: http://www.lovelustandlipstickstains.com/  There are a lot of new release reviews, author interviews and giveaways for readers, so if you’re into adult romance and need something new to read, this is a great place to look into!

I missed my own deadline for this new post I was trying to set up.  Two weeks ago, I had each of my kids select 3 random words that I was supposed to create something out of and post the following Wednesday.  Better late than never?  Hey, it’s football season.  Yeah, nuff said is right.  I ended up doing a kind of “free write” this time around, which I can never do without it coming out as some kind of rant.  It’s not even my rant, per se, but could be one of my many character’s!  I didn’t polish it, save for the spelling mistakes, so this is the raw creation.  Chosen words are in bold (obviously). Enjoy!

pandora

Destiny calls on very few, given the shoddy state of our previous heroes
Those seldom-timers, gallant by fate, brave by luck
They all fit in the same box, that may have belonged to a most unfortunate woman
Like the incessant drill of a woodpecker‘s beak, their names were chiseled into our brainstems
Yet not the whole of their misdeeds, those flawed personalities so brazen by popularity
And what of Achilles?  His might was ambidextrous, the murdering bastard
Demigods and their arrogance, no better than the chosen emperor
Vomiting glory from one corner of the globe to the other, the stench of innocent blood in their wake
Only to end up dead by their weaknesses, that vulnerability never celebrated by the mob despite
the acceptance of it; waved off, looked the other way, he’s entitled, isn’t he?  He’s a goddamn hero!
So let him fuck his life to death, we cannot find any intelligence to suggest the process should work any other way!
Lest we turn to the Disney philosophy of sugar coating the best of it and weaving
lies to cover up the worst of it, heaven forbid the Gods of Old be incestuous, those pagans shouldn’t
be allowed their own culture – we have no way of making it politically correct!
Go on, blow your Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious noses on the sleeves of TRUE history
Inflate laughter and folly into the suffering and traditions that vein through your borrowed myths like marble
They will still be here when you are no longer, and the wise will throw parades for the
new heroes who can clearly see the ancient roots in their quantum, Pi-filled existence…

The Bad Thing Aboout Good Twists

Warning: This post includes possible spoilers!!!

maleficent

I recently went to the theater and saw Maleficent with my sister… yes, two grown ass women free from their children for the night went to see a Disney movie… it happens! Stop judging.

Anyway, I’m trying not to put any spoiler alerts in here, so I’ll just say Wow, Avatar eat your heart out as far as imaginative graphics go.  Of course Angelina Jolie is still one of my favorite actresses of all times and we got to see little Vivian Jolie-Pitt in her first role for like 5 seconds.  It was adorable.

The movie reminded me of previous posts I’ve written about the variety of ‘versions’ we have these days.  New ‘twists’ on old fairytales that were either really great, or failed miserably.  Most importantly, why we’re so attracted to them, why we’ll spend our only free night away from kids watching them, instead of saving the local bar from it’s overabundance of Fireball.  I think the reason, as I’ve stated before, is because they’re so much a part of our formative years.  They’re entwined with our childhood memories and the development of our little brains, or at least learning good from evil, right from wrong.

But when does a ‘twist’ twist too far?  Creatively, there should be no limits, really.  But are we willing to sacrifice everything we’ve ever known to see our heroes and villains twisted into one another?  Then what are we left with?  Villeroes?  Herlains?

maleficent2I’m a confessed gamer and fan of the Kingdom Heart series, where aside from the bumbling Pete from the old Mickey Mouse cartoons, Maleficent plays a major Villainous role.  That’s her thing, though.  Her gig.  She’s the unrepentant, unabashed, laughing in the glory of her own wretched, wicked ways, kind of villain.  We don’t see very many of those anymore.   Ever since she rolled out of the Grimm tales and onto the ‘animated’ silver screen, Maleficent has been the classiest villainess we’ve ever met.  She’s dramatic without being psycho (Cruella) and knows how to lay down a curse!   She’s also impossible to kill.  I mean, really, all she does is turn into green vapor-fire.  You can’t kill green vapor-fire, everyone knows that!  She will always find a way to come back!

I’m simply torn.  I liked the movie.  The new ‘twist’ on an old tale.  Told from the villain’s point of view this time, rather than the heroine’s.  I also like the underlying message it puts out there, that we should question the ‘history’ we’ve always been taught.  That the true enemy is often times, those we throw the parade for, not the other way around.  Yet, at the same time, I have this deep-seeded desire to scream “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!”  Let villains be villains and heroes be heroes!  You can twist things up without taking away the core of the characters as we know them.  Give the villains a background if you must, make them more likeable, easier to sympathize with, but dammit, in the end… leave them villains.

maleficent3

Flash Facts Friday

Trying to come up with a fast & fun weekly post for Fridays is frustrating.  There’s already Flash Fiction Friday, Flash (headlights or boobs, your choice) Friday and Friday Flashbacks.  I really don’t want to copy everyone else, so I’ve decided to tweak these options a little.

Welcome to my first Flash Facts Friday, where I will list three facts about Fridays every Friday from all throughout history, pop culture and the globe.

Drum roll please…

knights_templarhorseFriday Fact #1: On Friday the 13th of October, 1307 A.D., King Philip IV of France ordered countless Fellow-Soldiers of the Knights Templar (to whom he was grossly indebted) arrested, tortured into false confessions, and then burned at the stake.

freakyfriday

 

Friday Fact #2: The children’s novel Freaky Friday has been adapted into 3 Disney films, but the original version produced in 1976 had a screenplay written by the book’s actual author, Mary Rodgers.

 

 

 

3562lincolnkennedy

Friday Fact #3: Both U.S. Presidents, Abraham Lincoln and John F. Kennedy, were assassinated on a Friday.