Thursday, October 2, 2014

Feeding the Dark Side

by Alan

Which type of character is more fun to write: villain or hero (in the classic sense of the word)?

Let me recap this week’s answers, so far.

On Monday, Meredith said that “Characters should be fun to write--no matter what their role is in your story.” In other words, she thinks writing both villains and heroes are fun. Score: Heroes 1, Villains 1.

On Tuesday, R.J. said she enjoys creating the hero more than the villain. Running Score: Heroes 2, Villains 1.

On Wednesday, Tracy proclaimed her love for writing villains (even though she was under the spell of a high dosage of pharmaceuticals, we’ll chalk one up for the dark side). Running Score: Heroes 2, Villains 2.

Now it’s my turn to weigh in.

I’m tempted to say that I don’t like writing either heroes or villains. It’s difficult (emotionally trying) to write a sympathetic hero and then subject him (or her) to a wide range of nasty incidents. It’s cruel! It’s inhumane! It’s inconsiderate! But, it makes for good conflict!

On the other hand, it’s hard to write a villain; it’s hard to worm yourself inside his (or her) twisted mind as he (or she) goes about stealing, maiming, killing, or cutting off people in traffic.

But saying I don’t relish writing either the hero or the villain would be copping out. Besides, I guess I really do have a preference. While writing the hero may be more satisfying/rewarding/enlightening, writing the villain can be more fun.

A few reasons:

High Stakes – Most of my books are about the struggles of the heroes, so the portions written from the villains’ POV are often more concentrated and more intense (and focus on something of utmost importance). In other words, the villains are on stage for only a short time, and I try to make every moment count double (or triple).

Over-the-Topness – Depending on what kind of story I’m writing, I can draw my villains a bit larger than life than the hero. After all, things like laws—and common decency—matter little to evildoers, and the villains have to present a major challenge to the heroes. (I had a great time writing the villain, Dallas Pike, in my horror novel, THE TASTE. He was a very nasty man who pretty much did what he pleased. Fun!)

Feeding my Dark Side – In general, my heroes are nice people. Sure, they’ve got their flaws, but underneath they fall squarely on the side of goodness, justice, and unicorns. Sometimes it just feels great to write about depravity for a change, know what I mean?

Running score: Villains 3, Heroes 2.

6 comments:

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Meredith Cole said...

Love the score sheet. I'm guessing that when Art weighs in tomorrow, villains will still be in the lead...

Art Taylor said...

Time will tell, Meredith.... But yes, I liked the tallying here—and had already wondered if Alan would mention THE TASTE, which I was promoting to a couple of readers just earlier this week!

Susan C Shea said...

You all have me thinking. Since I'm not up this week, my choice won't effect the vote, but I guess it goes along with my traditional mystery category to say I have to like my series protagonist, to know her especially well, so I lean that way. I like killing off the villains a great deal, however!

Alan Orloff said...

Meredith - I hope Art votes for villains. I placed my bet on the Villains, but I had to give a point and a half.

Art - Thanks for talking up THE TASTE. That whole book was a lot of fun to write.

Susan - Yes, killing off the villains is the best part!