Thursday, April 12, 2007

Are there any other authors out there who find it much easier to write villains than heroes?

I swear I'm NOT that quiet person next door who keeps mostly to herself, then turns out to be a mass murderer. But I sure find it entertaining to play in the realm of evil once in a while.

Why are bad guys so much fun? Psychologists would say that as writers, we're venting our negative emotions in our work, and maybe that's true. If our villains constantly end up with the names of ex-bosses and ex-husbands, it's possible there's some underlying hostility at the core of our writing. Maybe it's a sort of passive-aggressive revenge.

Or maybe, snug in our sweaters behind our sedate computers, we hunger for the thrill of living on the edge of badness, cackling at death, swirling our capes, and twirling our mustaches.

Good guys are tough. When I'm writing for a hero, I always have to make sure he's sensitive (but not TOO sensitive), strong (but not overpowering), intelligent (but not condescending). My heroines must be willful without being bratty, and they have to retain their femininity while wielding a sword.

But for villains, it's no holds barred. They're allowed to be crass and selfish and unreasonable. They can stomp and scream, kill people and break things. They can be, in the words of my favorite cartoon character, Daffy Duck, "dethpiccable."

Maybe the most interesting thing to me about villains is that they never see themselves as villains. Their means may be uncouth, but their goals, at least in their minds, are noble. They DESERVE that inheritance. The world would be BETTER without the hero. It's not FAIR that the Roadrunner always escapes.

So do you have a favorite villain? Who, and why?

Sarah McKerrigan...
Stories to keep you up all night!
LADY DANGER - Riding to the rescue April 2006
CAPTIVE HEART - Coming for you October 2006
KNIGHT'S PRIZE - Stealing your heart April 2007


Lois said...

DARTH VADER!!!!!!!!! Boy, I love this topic. LOL He's soooo cool. . . I mean, snappy dresser, great voice. . . some of us can identify with him with his breathing. . . never actually has to touch anyone to kill them. Very cool guy.

And I guess it would depend on how you look at the Phantom of the Opera on how you'd classify the Phantom. . . arguably, if he were in real life, he's be a villian, because he is a killer (some versions many more people killed than others) and he is obsessive. . . but hey, it isn't real life, so who cares, looooove him!!


Anonymous said...

The "villain" in my first book, Make Me a Match was everybody's favorite character. I'd get e-mails saying, "Why don't you write a book about Amy?"

Because she's a self-centered thief and a liar?

What I learned was that Amy was pure fun because she did exactly what she wanted, how she wanted.

So now I'm making her into a hero. Best of both worlds. So far, it's working...I'm only up to page 150...

Diana Holquist
Make Me a Match, in stores now
Sexiest Man Alive, coming this October
Visit my website!

Shari Anton said...

I am soooo with you on this one, Samantha. I love writing villains. They can say and do whatever they please because they don't care who might get trampled while they go about the business of attaining their goal. Of course, it's also wonderful to arrange their downfall!