[LMB] She says villains are difficult to write

Shan shiroise at gmail.com
Thu Mar 3 03:47:45 GMT 2016

​Thanks to those who posted the full version link.

LMB says "I'm also finding it strangely harder to write villains;
unrealistic ones don't convince me and realistic ones are banal and boring
and just not people I want to invite into my head for the length of time it
takes to write a novel. Since most action stories are villain-driven - to a
surprising degree, once one starts looking at them - this rather cuts off a
bunch of story possibilities at the root."

I recall how fantasy debased into a dualist light/dark model at the start
of the 90s when a very successful house 'Forgotten Realms' captured much of
the market.​
Suddenly it was very difficult to find anything that DIDN'T do Dark Lord X
Cute Hero. Villains became vague excuses. It was like school sports wearing
different colour bands for teams. Boring.

LMB has been a champion of complexity and postmodernism. ;)
Thinking about her challenge I am pondering these:

# The villain who has solid reasons, having suffered. Been done a lot but
still has juice in the tank.
# The villain who starts as an ordinary, even heroic person. The genuine
temptations of power - Quis custodiet? Who watches the powerful and
restrains them? Are the watchers corruptible? (yes!) How? What plans are in
place to prevent this?
# The villain who is (part of) a society that starts out acceptably but
slowly over time changes. People get used to nastiness step by small step.
They don't notice it properly. Some interesting studies on seeing/ not
seeing in Nazi Germany.
America and Britain have both achieved good societies in their time. Both
have become corrupted, gradually, so greed, aggression, has become normal.
# The villain who remains moral, and suffers long and ghastly reactions,
destroying themselves with guilt. Some might not suffer guilt long term,
but suddenly realise it, and make a self sacrifice (try Efnysien). Or
perhaps accessing redemption by making compensation without self
immolation? (For goddess sake though not the love of a good woman!)
# The villain who truly believes they are doing the best possible for their
society. They never do realise and POV from them, and a close intimate
horrified at what they are doing is fascinating.

Now if I could write like LMB ..... but a business + PhD is enough for now!
Hope this helps stimulate.

Shan Morgain

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