Archive for the ‘Writing’ Category
Officer Sonny Jenkins had his nine-millimeter set to fire—a round chambered and the safety off. He took a deep breath and a long, hard swallow that first sent his prominent Adam’s apple down, and then back up again. His heart, thumping against the inside of his chest, was a metronome on steroids.
Bump. Bump. Bump.
He made his rounds, slowly and carefully, clearing each of the rooms. So far, so good. Only the kitchen and that room remained. The one where…
He heard a sound and stopped dead still, holding his breath. A beat passed and he heard it again. Clunk. The sound came from down the hallway, in the direction of the kitchen.
Just an ice cube dropping into the plastic bin. Then he noticed the whir of the refrigerator’s compressor. He’d search the kitchen next, after he checked the room where IT happened.
Couldn’t put it off any longer. Two careful steps onto the hardwood. One more and the old floorboards would sound off with a screechy creak. He waited, cocking his head to one side, listening. Nothing.
Well….there was that constant ticking of the antique mantle clock.
Tick… Tick… Tick…
Outside, a brutal December nor’easter pushed and pulled on the limbs of the old Hackberry tree in the side yard. The corner streetlamp backlit the tree’s gnarled appendages, sending its dark shadow to wave and sway on the interior walls, including the one spattered with splotches of dried blood and, well, that other stuff. The stuff he didn’t want to think about.
The Hackberry’s tiniest branches and twigs scraped and scratched against the house—dozens of skeletal fingers strumming a clapboard harp. The eerie display reminded Sonny Jenkins of a maestro’s arms and hands as he brings his orchestra toward a final crescendo.
Same song and show every night.
Every single night of his miserable life.
Whir, click, clunk, scrape, tick, scratch, and the bump of his grief-induced heartbeat. The macabre concerto had repeated each night since his beautiful wife used his service weapon, the same gun he held in his sweaty hand right now, to scatter the parts of her that once contained her memories, thoughts, silent prayers, and dreams of growing old together, all over the wall of that room.
He could no longer watch the shadow dance on his wife’s blood and brains.
The music had reached the coda.
It was time for the maestro’s finale.
The fat lady was singing her ass off.
He raised the gun and pressed the barrel against the roof of his mouth.
Whir, click, clunk, scrape, tick, bump, thud…BANG!
Tick… Tick… Tick…
Villains. They’re the bad guys of our stories who are devoted to wickedness. They have specific goals and will stop at nothing to reach them. Are you as driven to write them as compelling characters?
The hero of the story is a stumbling block for the villain. He’s in the way and the villain must do all he can to eliminate him.
An antagonist (someone who merely opposes the hero) simply makes waves for the hero.
Villains are used to create tension in a story. They also provide much-needed hurdles for the hero to overcome during his journey.
Unlike antagonists, villains are sociopathic and narcissistic, and they can be quite unpredictable. Villains often use fear to get their way.
And they absolutely must have a reason to do what they do.
Think of real-life villains… What makes them so creepy and scary?
Readers must be able to identify with the villain. Perhaps he has an interest in animals, or children. Maybe he’s a devoted church member, or the hero’s letter carrier. Maybe the villain is the babysitter for the good guy’s children.
- Villains are extremely motivated to do what they do.
- Over the top villains are unbelievable.
Believable make-believe should be your goal.
When should you first bring your villain to the page?
Those were just a few basic guidelines for creating a compelling villain. If all else fails you could follow a simple recipe I concocted. It goes something like this (Of course, like all good cooks I’ve kept a few secret ingredients to myself).
*This post is part of a Powerpoint presentation I use at conferences. Please do not copy without permission.
*This article was re-posted by request.