This post was written for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our encouragement or insecurities on the first Wednesday of the month, to join the group or find out more click here.
This month’s co-hosts:
Before I begin, I’d like to include a disclaimer: I may understand and share many concepts on the art/craft of writing. Unfortunately for me, I find the execution of some of these ideas very challenging.
Anything I share comes from my deep curiosity and willingness to learn more about the craft. This does not mean I’m able to use what I share with proficient skill. Like everyone else I must practice and make it my own.
‘Nough said. 🙂
Optional Question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best—the hero or villain’s—and why?
Lately I’ve been writing in first person and sticking to the hero’s point of view. As my son would say, “It’s a form of wish fulfillment.”
He’s not wrong when it comes to me. Like many, I do dream of being brave, righteous. Following clues, and proving my great mind (which is not all that) is sharp enough to solve the most confusing of crimes.
Evil act by an evil doer
In reality I find villains especially hard to write. Not so much wish fulfillment there. It turns out I don’t have an intentional mean bone in my body. That causes a problem the moment I try to write some evil act from the point of view of any villain.
I learned to approach the problem from the villains-are-the-hero-of-their-own-story angle. They don’t believe for one minute that anything they do is wrong.
Villainous motivation are based on:
- The protection/defense of self and/or their loved ones.
- Grief. The loss of a loved one that may lead to revenge or warped justice.
- Unresolved family issues and a desperate need for their acceptance. To prove their worth or to earn the love of a family member.
- Facing a rival and proving they are the best.
- Greed comes in many forms. A deep need for more. More love, more property, more power. But if the need is only about money, the motive comes across weak to me.
- Fear. Two ideas are prominent here. (1) The villain’s concern for the future and is willing to do anything (no matter how evil) to change it. (2) Or they see the hero as a threat to humanity because absolute power leads to absolute corruption.
- The search of knowledge, Which raises the question if they can physically do something (change genetic code, create a cleaner power source, etc), should they? The most innocent creations have been weaponized.
- Ultimate power over a person, place or nation.
- Jealousy or envy is also a great motivator.
- Escaping/achieving their destiny. Think superheroes/villains.
- In some cases they don’t have motives. I’m thinking of the Joker in the Dark Knight.
Almost all these motivations come from the past. Check out my previous post on timelines if you want to read more.
Add a vile act (best) forgotten and left in the past.
But someone (the antagonist) has a long memory. This memory has been festering and eventually must be acted upon.
The rest evolves into a story.
Where do your antagonist’s motivations come from? In your case, maybe the villain is a rival or an eventual lover; tell us about it.