23 December 2010

Guest Blogger Kelly Ward: The Villain

While attempting to finish my extensive rewrites, I've noticed that there are more issues at hand than my plot killer problem. I have a big problem with the villain. It's catastrophic in nature and needs to be addressed.

When you have an inept villain, you have no story. Unless you plan on having no villain and if that's your story, then what I'm about to tell you will do you no good. For me, the villain of my series is like Darth Vader. He needs to convey fear simply by his presence. Not such an easy task to complete when you have no visuals to help you.

This villain is complicated. He's not a simple psychopathic killer bent on the destruction of humanity. If that were the villain I was working with, I wouldn't have this problem. Psychopathic villains are wonderful and easy (for the most part) and equally terrifying for the reader if done correctly.

The villain I have created is duplicitous and slippery. He'll just as easily smile to your face while he plots to stab you in the back. He won't be found in the middle of the action like a warlord or evil king. Instead, he's holding the puppet strings, masterminding every single action of the pawns laid out before him. He's difficult to pin down and even harder to write without adding an edge of insanity or a vengeful streak.

If you have a villain in your story, you need to remember that you will either kill your story now or make it great with this one character. While a plot killer will simply kill the stories he or she is involved in, the rest of the series will survive. With a horribly written villain, your series is dead in the water.

If you need an evil genius, create an evil genius. Plot out every aspect of his or her personality and when writing a situation the villain will be involved in, think through it as if you actually ARE that character. Sure, it's good to do that with every single character you have, but it's vital with your villain. I actually have more notes on my villains than I do on my heroes. If only my notes made sense...

One last thing to remember about a villain: names matter here. You need a name that has an actual meaning. I named my first villain Varick because the name sounds evil and it means conqueror (at least it did on the website I was using). What better name for the Bringer of all evil? With my newest villain, I chose the name Nathail because it sounds oily and black and it means snake. It fits him. You can't call a bad guy Mark can you? Well you could, but would he be scary?

Take your time with a villain. They can be the greatest thing in the world or the biggest pain in the neck you'll ever have.

Kelly Ward has had a passion for writing since she was thirteen, and has since blended her passion for writing with her love of vampires into a writing career. Kelly is the author of Prophecy, Forbidden, and Awakening, which are available on her website. You can read more about Kelly's writing and life on her blog, The Fang Marked Writer. She is happily married to the love of her life, Nathan, and is expecting their first child in March.

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