JUST SOME OF’EM
We are still on the issue of character, and even when we leave this issue, we will return…to this…what’s the word I’m looking for here…issue? One of the most important characters in your novel is and will be your villain.
No matter who or what or when or where your villain is, your villain is and needs to be treated like a character. If you fail to do this, then your protag has nothing to overcome and no one to fight against.
Since we are planning to stay on this topic for a few days, I am thinking that it is only fair to peel our villain apart limb from limp…I mean…layer by layer (sorry for that slip) until we can create someone or something or some place that is the adversary that our protag must war against.
We will deal with the concept right now which is a dream deeply rooted in the the America dream (not really, but someone has to give the villain some civil rights). That is to say: NOT ALL VILLAINS ARE CREATED EVIL.
What does that mean? This means that the adversary to your protag may not be, in the eyes of society, the epitome of evil. In fact, to society, your villain may be down right good in all aspects.
Think of The Godfather (my absolute favorite movie of all time). When you watch that movie, we are compelled to pull for the mob boss, Vito Corleone. In what world would we actually pull for the mob boss to outwit the FBI and our governmental authorities?
Or if you disagree there, let’s look at it this way. When you watch King Kong, and your heart races because you want the ape to succeed, you have to take a step back and think…hmmm…how would I really feel if a gigantic gorilla attacked my city. WE NEED TO KILL HIM! HE NEEDS TO DIE! But, it’s not about that. It’s about making you, the viewer, feel compassion for an ape and his weird love quest for small, petite, metropolitan blondes. And who are the villains here? The army and the people in the city who just simply can’t handle a scraper-sized primate in their backyard. NIMBY (Not In My Backyard).
So the villain is not necessarily the epitome of evil. The villain just makes it difficult for your protag to achieve his main goal. And without a villain, you have no conflict.
Abray walked down the road and made it home safely.
WoW! I really don’t care….I just don’t. Maybe I’m sadistic. Because in the real world, this is what we’d expect. A guy walks home, and he gets home. But in the world of fiction……………………….
Abray walked down the road, and a scraggly old drunkard stumbled out from behind the garbage can flailing a gun around. Random shots blasted into the air and down the street.
“Gimme’ all yore’ money…sucka…” said that man, barely being able to stand up straight.
Now we have an adversary. All of sudden we want to know one thing: What’s going to happen to Abray? This is what you want on every page of your novel.
Think of your book. Is your protag a bad guy in our standards? How can you vilify the “good guys,” so that your protag gets the necessary sympathy and empathy, if possible, from the reader.
Am I saying you have to write good guys as villains? No. But, I am saying that you MUST MUST MUST understand who your protag thinks his adversary is.