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?
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