[LMB] OT: Villains -- WAS: Mirror Dance, yes or no?

Meg Justus mmegaera at nwlink.com
Fri Sep 26 04:47:38 BST 2008


> Why do we need backstories for the villains?

I suspect it's a matter of taste.  I read for character, pretty much full 
stop.  Plots that hang together are nice, good world-building is nice, 
thematic stuff is interesting, a distinctive voice is good.  But if the 
characters (preferably even secondary characters, preferably even villains) 
aren't three-dimensional and rounded, then you've lost me as a reader.

Which is why I find Lois's writing so appealing 99% of the time.  And why I 
find the few times she doesn't round out a character to my satisfaction 

As to why I don't just accept the "he was born evil" theory of villain 
characterization, well, there's a Twain quote (and, yes, I'm pretty sure it 
really is a Twain quote this time), "Fiction is obliged to stick to 
possibilities.  Truth isn't."  Which I interpret as meaning that you've got 
to keep fiction plausible.  Lots of things happen in real life that wouldn't 
be plausible in fiction.  *For me,* "he was born evil" is one of them.

BTW, I'm not saying we have to understand a villain, or gods forbid, be 
sympathetic towards him, just that he be plausible.  I prefer a villain who 
thinks he's the hero of his own story.  But that means I need to know his 

I was one of the ones who complained about the Joker, too.  I admired Heath 
Ledger's virtuosity in portraying him, but I never felt he was real.

one of the few who liked Batman Begins better than The Dark Knight -- it 
wasn't so relentlessly *depressing* 

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