|Flickr Credit: Roddy Keetch|
As imperfect writers, we all have our struggles. A few of mine: I’ve never been good about keeping a writing schedule, I’m a slow writer, and I put off finding CPs longer than I should. They’re places to grow and someday I will, but they aren’t what nags at me most.
Believe it or not, the place where I need to grow most is writing villains.
This may sound odd since I devote every third Friday (including this upcoming one, in fact) to discussing villains. I also place a copious amount of admiration upon their morally gray behaviors and traits. Considering how much time I spend thinking about them, you’d probably think, “Oh, she must have no problem writing those.”
Nope. Not really.
I tend to dehumanize my villains. Take the WIP I recently retired—the villain was a government authority who intended to kill magical creatures, which was justified because she would save human lives. A noble goal, no? Maybe, except her plans made so much sense that I only characterized her as a cruel person, so no one would like what she did. It didn’t work.
(For the record, I believe I could have fixed that villain. I stopped because I had more problems with the protagonists. It was enough to stop.)
My current (but inactive) WIP has more confusing villains. I mean, they are indeed dehumanized, partially because they aren’t human and partially because they are not good people. But in both antagonistic journeys, I’m trying to be surprising, and it is not working so well. They should be developed before they are surprising.
I don’t exactly know why this is hard for me. Perhaps it’s because I admire many villains because of the good I can see in them. I also try to recognize that from someone else’s perspective, my protagonists are villains with evil in them, too. Still, I automatically try to write “evil” villains—and therefore, my villains are hard to admire and I end up not paying attention to them.
I want to get better, though. I plan on editing, and writing about villains does help. Part of writing developed characters is seeing both the good in the bad. I just need to keep looking for that in my own characters.