Wanted: One (or More) Petty Villains, Willing to be Killed Out of Hand while Remaining Stoically Silent About Their Tragic Past

Posted on 02/09/2011 by

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“So who’s the bad guy?”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Why not?”
“I haven’t written it yet.”

I realised a few days ago that Wizards is missing a villain. I mean, I have a large epic-style villain for the universe type thing — you know, I know what the overall struggle should be. But I need some little villains, petty bad guys that I can beat up. And I realised I don’t really write them. I have no villains. I have heroes who are evil. Or mad. Or related. But petty villainry is clearly something I need to work on.

I think maybe I like the bad guys too much. I can’t help thinking, So, Thug #4, just why are you shooting at Gray right now? What motivates you? How are you feeling? Nervous? Bored? What if you succeed — and he’s lying there in a bloody pool at your feet? How do you feel? Exhilarated? Satisfied? Kinda turned on? Nauseated? Panicked?

And every one of those questions has an answer, a potential backstory unspooling in my brain. (This is also how character lists get out of hand.*) I see that other side of the story too easily. And once you start thinking from the perspective of the bad guy the line between villain and hero gets a bit blurred.

It’s a problem cause once I start thinking about them, they’re a bit irresistable. I love characters who are dark and twisted and damaged. They’re interesting. And so much fun to write. (Yes, apparently I’m a sadist. Don’t judge.)

Still. I need to figure out a way to write two-bit punks without resorting to noir metaphors or delving into their entire life stories. I mean someone’s got to try to kill my heroes. Otherwise what will they do on a Saturday night? They might get into mischief.

 

* There was going to be a footnote about Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time books here but when I started writing it the footnote got footnotes, and at that point it’s really a post all on its own.