Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Walden-Bond Index: Revealed at Last

All right, all right—I’ve mentioned this a few times now and at last I’m making it happen. Yes, I’m going to be blogging about villains. Behold.

The Walden-Bond Index: A Condensed Version


For too long I’ve loved villains, but I haven’t had a decent way to classify them. I mean, what’s the most important thing to know about a villain? Their tea choices? Yearly income? Shoe size?

I came to a decision: no more questions. The Walden-Bond Index is my way to categorize villains and antagonists by three main factors: role, motivation, and bonus points.

role: their job descriptions and regular duties

motivation: why they do what they do

bonus points: their deluxe features

And yes, we’re going to separate the antagonist from the villain. They’re not mutually inclusive—an antagonist can be a good person as much as a villain can be. The important thing to remember is that we are looking at these people through a fictional lens—we must read and watch with open minds.

antagonist: the force that makes the problem in the story

villain: a selective representative for an ideal (possibly destructive); a hero of the night*

Each component will be represented by a symbol, which shall be as follows.

Role (Normally one category)

Symbol
Classification
Identifiers
Γ
γ
Body
an organization, company, institution, or government as a whole

a Body is usually represented by one or two people to speak on its behalf; these are called “Hands” and are signified with a lower-case gamma

example: The Empire (Star Wars)

A
Alpha
villains only; leaders marked out with idealistic and purpose-driven goals—especially for the sake of legacy

variation: Evil Scientist (less idealism, more Godlike interpretation of self)

example: Kananga (Live and Let Die)

Δ
Politician/Financier
operative who works within preexisting political and financial structures, often in a position of power

example: Hans (Frozen)

Θ
Henchman
the arms, back, and legs of a loftier villain

variation: Hit Man (specific kills for cash, unclaimed by employer)

variation: Igor (lab assistant, especially to evil scientist)

variation: Assistant (antagonist only; serves a superior in a likely less violent position)

example: Kronk (The Emperor’s New Groove)

Π
Technician
constructors and operators of new technology; typically ignored

variation: Doctor (usually medically or biologically-based, also ignored)

example: Boris (Goldeneye)

Ξ
Avenger
bringer of justice; may adopt other roles to exact their punishment on others

example: Sweeney Todd (Sweeney Todd)

Λ
Assassin
villain only; killer, typically a confidante with a higher capacity for leadership, critical thinking, and good humor

example: Butler (Artemis Fowl)

Σ
Lone Wolf
a person who works of his or her own accord for his or her own goals—no superiors and no legacy

variation: Bully (antagonist only, puts down others for one’s own sake)

example: James (Twilight)

Φ
Agent of Chaos
creator of chaos and, by extension, evil

example: The Joker (The Dark Knight)

Ω
Omega
antagonist only; the common criminal, the ordinary wrongdoer

example: Thenardier (Les Misérables)

Motivation (as many as apply)

(Note: every one one of the following motivations can apply to a hero just as much as a villain—it’s just that most antagonists and villains use these motivations in a destructive way, rather than constructive. I have mixed in a few examples of constructive motivation below to make my point.)

Symbol
Classification
Identifiers
0
Chaos
the dissolution of preexisting orders, structures, or systems

examples: American Revolution (historical), Loki (The Avengers)

1
Evil
consciously and intentionally committing unforgiveable acts (or acts that are difficult to forgive, anyway) with the intention of hurting others

example: Bellatrix Lestrange (Harry Potter)

2
Idealism
a set of standards placed upon others and society; everyone is accountable to those standards

examples: Civil War (historical), Lord Voldemort (Harry Potter)

3
Insanity/Psychology
actions that are a direct result of one’s brain’s physical makeup, including mental illness, insanity, and psychology

examples: Lenny (Of Mice and Men), Gollum (Lord of the Rings)

4
Insubordination
actions committed because they are in an occupational position where they must follow orders

examples: Rolf (The Sound of Music), Gibbs (Pirates of the Caribbean)

5
Lifestyle
the manner in which one chooses to live his or her own life

examples: Polyphemus (The Odyssey), Shepherd Book (Firefly)

6
Desperation
the position where someone needs to do something if they want to live

examples: Jean Valjean (Les Misérables), Diabolus Darkdoom (H.I.V.E.)

7
Personal/Material Gain
the wish to get something physical or characteristic, presumably for a future benefit

examples: Dr. Horrible (Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog), The Volturi (Twilight)

8
Power/Influence
the acquisition of strength and authority over a certain discipline

examples: The Darkling (The Grisha Trilogy), Arisaka (The Emperor of Nihon-Ja)

9
Wealth
the accumulation of currency, or something of an equal value which can later be used for trade  or miserly purposes

examples: Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger), Prince John (Robin Hood)


Bonus Points (as many as apply) [note: list still in progress]

Symbol
Classification
Identifiers
!
Superpowers
supernatural or unnatural capabilities controlled by the owner

variation: curse (uncontrollable powers)

example: Kronos (Percy Jackson)

$
Money
extreme wealth ready for disposal

example: Syndrome (The Incredibles)

#
Lair
especially unique or lavish living and/or headquarters

example: Yzma (The Emperor’s New Groove)

&
Family Ties
close connections with forebears, allowing for special privileges or training

example: Joffrey (A Song of Ice and Fire)

@
Name
a particularly attractive or clever appellation

example: Cruella de Vil (One Hundred and One Dalmations)

Ultimately, an Alpha motivated by chaos, evil, and idealism possessing superpowers will look something like this:

A123!

Now, this is complicated, yes? Yes. Don’t worry—we’ll delve a little deeper into each subject as we go, and we may even broaden the list. However, I was trying to be short.

That’s the gist, though.

A couple last things—these aren’t “the categories” by any means. Along the lines of what Captain Barbossa once said, the index “is more what you’d call ‘guidelines’ than actual rules.”

The title—this is named after two of my favorite sources of villains. The first is Mark Walden, the author of H.I.V.E. and the original creator of the ideas of Alpha, Political/Financial, Henchman, and Technical Streams within his fictional school. Those ideas are his; however, I didn’t change it because I couldn’t think of better names. I’m hoping he doesn’t sue me—because I cannot afford that kind of money. We can change them later, maybe.

The second name belongs to James Bond himself, who duels with some of the greatest villains (and the worst villains, come to think of it) in our time. The WBI didn’t seem complete without including him in the mix!

Questions? Comments? I’d love to hear them below! Obviously, I’m not done yet, so anything you want me to clarify or change, I’m willing to give it a listen.

Until then—think evil thoughts, and enjoy the calm before the storm.

What do you think are the most important things to know about a villain? Who is your favorite villain?

*rest assured, I plan to go into depth on what I think a true villain is later, however, I’m trying to be brief. More later, I promise.

6 comments :

  1. Wow! This is a great!!
    I always try to remember that the villain is doing what he or she thinks is the right thing to do to reach their own goals.

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    Replies
    1. That's definitely a valid point—I know sometimes it's hard to get into a villain's motivation when they don't do it how we would want, but I think someone has said a villain believes he is the hero.

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  2. This. THIS. Ever since we glimpsed it on #WatchMeWrite I'd been longing to see it, and it is more epic than I could've imagined. Very exhaustive list, and great for brainstorming or fleshing out villains/antagonists, esp. with NaNoWriMo coming! Are you going to expand the index or explain each category in detail in future blog posts? (Hint: I'd LOVE to see more.)

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    Replies
    1. Ha ha, I'm glad you're satisfied with the result! I'm writing the big-long-official-explanation guide right now, and thus far it's 23 pages—it's nice to know the hard work pays off. :)

      I don't know exactly how I will expand the index just yet (though I certainly plan to) but you can rest assured that we're definitely going to see some category explanations and individual character profiles in the coming weeks! In fact, I thought I'd post my first one on Friday—how convenient that it's Halloween that day!

      But again, I'm glad you love it! :D Thanks for your enthusiasm!

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  3. I'm so glad you made the distinction between antagonist and villain. So many people get them mixed into one idea, which makes people like me (who have a villain for a protagonist and a hero for an antagonist and another person who is part mentor, part friend, part antagonist) go crazy trying to figure out formulas for a decent character arc (it nearly made me cry).
    This is a really interesting system, and I've never seen it before. It looks like it could be useful in some regards - the one part I never really officially decide on is what resources they've got. Sometimes I don't really classify them into a type of villain/antagonist either.

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    Replies
    1. I hate when people don't make that distinction, too! But it sounds like you've got a pretty good handle on the situation, especially with such a strong relationship as that you described. It sounds awesome; now I feel compelled to read up on it. XD

      I'm hoping it is useful! I don't really know where it's going to go yet or how it's going to work completely, but I'm hoping to get a lot of advice and feedback as I figure out what works and what doesn't. But I'm going to admit, it's not a perfect system—you're right that the resources are a muddy area, and we can't always decide whether someone is a villain or just an antagonist, either. All the same, it's an interesting literary discussion to be had!

      Thanks for reading!

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