Friday, July 16, 2010

Unnecessary Violence

I'm working on the second draft of ANGELIC DEMON. I'm in the last 20,000 words. The home stretch. It's where all the villain motivations are revealed, Jacky saves the day, and I (hopefully) give enough closure for the book to stand alone, while leaving enough tasty tidbits that I could continue the series.

I've been there for over a week. Here's why:

What I had originally planned involved a lot of violence. A lot. To be perfectly honest, I'm not great with the writing blood and gore and doing horrible things to my characters. I've rewritten this chapter three times now, and it still doesn't feel right.

Then I realized why.

1) My villain didn't have any motivation for being a villain. Um, oops. This is a big no, no. Villains have to have a reason. The best villain advice I've ever been given is "Villains are the heroes of their own stories."

I put the writing on hold until I got the motivation figured out. It took me a while, and there are still a lot of wrinkles that need to be ironed out, but I got the over-all big picture. Just by doing that one thing, a whole new aspect of my villain's personality came out. Zomg, he actually started to feel like a person in my head.

2) Unnecessary violence isn't a good thing. When my villain was just a villain because I needed one, without drive or direction, the violence worked. It was some of the hardest stuff I'd ever written, but it was good. It also didn't work. At. All. There wasn't any reason behind it, except to make my bad good look really bad, and that's not good enough.

3) The end doesn't justify the means. Now that my villain had fresh motivation, violence--enough a little dose of it--just didn't fit right. Why on earth would the villain start with violence when persuasion could get him what he wants just as easily, and without the mess. There will be plenty of coercing violence later, but it should be later, not right up front.

All this taught me that I need to pay more attention to all my villains. You can't stick them in the book just because you need the additional conflict. If you do that, I can almost guarantee headaches and heartaches will abound.

Remember: Villains are people too, and like all people, they have thoughts, feelings, and something that drives them. If they don't, then they're just a crutch for your plot to lean on, and not a very sturdy one at that.

1 comment:

  1. What motivation did you end up with? I always like the simple things, like the jealous stalker "demon" in Paranormal Activity. That's a simple motivation that most people can relate to. For a story I'm writing, I'm going with the villain who wants to be left alone to wallow in his pain - can't be reminded by love or happiness at all, or he wants to destroy it. That gives me a lot of build up to work with...