Which type of character is more fun to write: villain or hero (in the classic sense of the word)?
by Meredith Cole
Characters should be fun to write--no matter what their role is in your story. When I find myself feeling bored when I write a character (especially a hero that I've made too, well, blah), I have to ask myself what I can expect my poor reader to feel? Boring to write means, of course, boring to read.
Although it's tons of fun to write a villain that is so amazingly over the top bad that he chews up the scenery and spits it out, I think characters need to be a little more realistic to be believable. I sometimes have to be reminded that every villain is a hero in his or her own story. They have a reason for trying to "get" our hero, or for killing people or for whatever nefarious deeds they are doing. We may not think their reason is just, but they have to have one.
I enjoy reading complex characters, and so I attempt to create them in my own books. It's never easy to do, though. Give a hero too many quirks and flaws, and they can become annoying and unlikeable. Give a villain too much of a sympathetic story line and people start to wonder if there's been some kind of a mistake. So like sugar, fats and exercise, moderation is the key to everything. And keeping it fun, so you don't just give up and go read a book by someone else.
Oh--and I did a fun event Saturday at Stone Soup in Waynesboro with fellow Sisters in Crime "Virginia is for Mysteries" anthology writers Rosemary Shoemaker and Linda Thornburg. Here's a photo of us on the bookstore patio: