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Chatterbox: Crowd Sorcery
Note: You have until Monday, July 7, to create a villain in time for voting. Go here to see the schedule.
One of the most effective ways to be sure a story will have conflict that keeps readers breathlessly turning pages is to introduce a villain—someone whose goals collide head-on with the main character’s goals. We fantasy readers can all think of unforgettable villains from our favorite stories, those scary or relentless opponents that make life so difficult for the hero or heroine.
Villains need more than special magical powers to become so memorable that they haunt our imaginations; they also need as much personality and feeling as the hero. In actual life, almost no one ever sets out to become a villain. Perhaps your villain is desperate to protect her homeland, or family, or dragon. Perhaps the villain’s very life is at stake. There must always be a why, a solid reason behind the evil the villain does so that it makes sense—at least to him or her.
Usually the plot will unfold if you can figure out the relationship of the villain to the main character and what the villain wants. For instance, in thinking about Quill, my heroine who comes out only in moonlight, I might wonder who cast the original spell on her grandmother and why. I’ll imagine it was a monstrous spirit-witch, Gershardt, who lives in a cavern beneath a pool in the forest. Gershardt’s spells can steal someone’s daytime essence, enabling her to take on a human form, leave the pool, and walk about in the world of mortals. But her spell fades over time so she is trying to steal Quill’s nighttime essence, too—although that would make Quill vanish forever.
In my example the stakes are high: the villain wants to continue living in the physical world, and so does the main character—whichever of them loses will disappear!
I might write for my Crowd Sorcery Sentences: “Gnarled hands rose from the water and gripped a tree root, followed by bony arms and a streaming tangle of white hair. Old Gershardt crept from the pool and stood dripping and frosty in the moonlight, blinking into the shadows with her pale blue eyes, chuckling through her toothless mouth.”
When I write, I try to keep in mind that, from the villain’s point of view, he or she is the true main character of the story, and it is the hero or heroine that is in the way.
- 1. Name
- 2. Physical appearance
- 3. Background
- 4. Lair (Hut? Castle? Cave? Ship?)
- 5. What is the villain’s goal?
- 6. Attitude toward hero
- 7. How is the villain stronger than the hero?
- 8. How is the villain weak or vulnerable?
- 9. Why are the main character and the villain in conflict with each other?
- 10. Your Crowd Sorcery Sentence(s)
(April 23, 2014 - 11:54 am)