Today we have another fabulous guest blogger, Gennifer Albin! She's got a great book, CREWEL, coming out next year, and she's here today to help you take your villains to the next level. Take it away!
Ever watched a movie and found yourself secretly rooting for the villain? Sometimes those heroes can be so damn good, but a villain says the outrageous things or is brooding or has a pretty good argument. The thing is a good villain can steal the show right out of goody-two-shoe-hero-boy's hands. So while I don't advise making your main characters so Mary Sue that everyone loves the villain more, I do think your readers should feel torn.
Does your villain secretly make you feel a little naughty? Can you imagine someone delicious like Colin Firth or Robert Downey, Jr. or Angelina Jolie playing the part?
Does your villain make a good point? Is his/her argument not only persuasive but as well-reasoned as the protagonist's? Don't get me wrong the villain can still be wrong, but he should at least be somewhat right
Is your villain hilariously funny with a dry wit and the perfect comeback for every situation?
The sad truth is that we spend a lot of time as writers developing our protagonists. We give them backstories, emotional arcs, love interests, and our villains? They're only around to foil our lovely well-developed hero.
Recently, I enjoyed the kids films MegaMind and Despicable Me (don't judge, I have a 4 year-old!). Both movies are all about the villain and how flawed and funny and misunderstood they are. I'm not saying you have to rewrite your book from the villain's perspective or even spend so much time making them sympathetic, but could you do those things if you had to? Do you know your villain well enough to write the book through their voice?
Here's one of my favorite exercises for rounding out a villain:
Give them layers of logic. Ever villain has a reason for what they do. But how can you make the stakes of their actions even higher? Think of something and right it down. Got it? Good.
Make it even more important that their plans work. Fate of the world important. Think about it. Take your time and write it down. Got it? Good.
Take it up another notch.
Do this until your mind is bleeding with the amount of effort you have put into this.
Now figure out ways to organically include this in your text. Don't just write out a monologue and plop it in. Hint at it. Make your protagonist recognize the truth of the villains words. Get your villain to the point where even you believe him. Make your readers love him or love to hate him, but give him that third dimension. It makes all the difference.
http://blog.genniferalbin.com). You can also tweet with her at http://twitter.com/#!/GenniferAlbin.