Girls Write Out
Wednesday, January 04, 2012
Every story needs conflict, and often that calls for a villain or two. Maybe your villain isn't out murdering people (Colleen!) Maybe they're only a catty bridesmaid at a wedding who gives your heroine the stink eye -- they still have to be believable.

What makes us believe a person could inflict evil on another? Usually, it's some internal wounding that the villain carries around with them, but you've got to find that motivation to make your villain or antagonist, multi-dimensional. For example, let's take a man who is a huge presence on the forefront of Christian Evangelicals. He is a master preacher. People are moved by his words to love God more and one day, he leaves his wife and five kids for a beauty queen. Without explanation or any sign of remorse.

There are two multiple ways you could go with his motivation for inflicting such evil on the people he is called to love and cherish. (Keep in mind, this would be the kind of villainy that could have a lot of collateral damage.)

1. He realizes his faith has never been more than a show. He is a fraud, and he wants to get away, but doesn't know how. So he takes the coward's way out because he doesn't want people to tell him that he can come back. He's been preaching the Word for years, he knows what it says. He no longer believes it, and feels it's more honorable to give his wife a chance with someone who can love the Lord and her.

2. Or...the teenager could have been in danger from a trafficking ring, and he has taken her as a bride to protect her because he knows the group would not dare come after the girl when he is under surveillance for the huge scandal.

3. He has attachment issues from a lifetime of being passed around from foster home to foster home and though he wants to be there for his kids and give them a different life, his need to matter is bigger and he can't fight it anymore. He's given his kids more than he ever had, and rationalizes that his wife can sell the house and live for years on the profits.

You get the idea. Find a reason your antagonist acts the way they do. Don't just make them villains. We ALL have the ability to inflict evil. The question is, what would make us do it?

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posted at 7:39 PM  
  Comments (3)
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At 9:51 PM, Blogger Tonya said...

Great post! This is what I'm struggling with right now
I know my villain is mean & catty because of a secret but I can't figure out a good enough one.

At 9:52 PM, Blogger anna angela said...

Thanks for this post. You reminded me a good lesson in writing and in life because isn't this how we should look at the "villains" in our lives? They've got a story too.

At 9:31 AM, Blogger Timothy Fish said...

I agree that our villains need a motivation for what they do, but I don’t find any of the three suggestions believable. I suppose if the man is insane, one of these might work, but not otherwise. It would be a mistake to think that this man or any man would leave his wife, without his wife bearing some part (however small) of the responsibility. A better explanation of his villainy would be that his wife no longer respects him. Though she puts on the right face for the church, at home she spends her time complaining about him leaving his dirty socks on the floor and she never listens when he tells her how he thinks things could be better. But along comes the beauty queen who is looking for counsel of some kind. She is attractive, but more importantly, she demonstrates respect by listening to what he has to say. He never thought he would let it go so far, but he enjoys the time he spends with her and begins finding little excuses to spend more time with her. He knows he shouldn’t, but he is unwilling to give it up. In time, he reaches the point that he wants her so much that he is willing to give up everything he once valued to be with her.


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The Authors
Kristin Billerbeck
Kristin Billerbeck is a proud Californian, wife, mother of four, and connoisseur of the irrelevant. She writes Christian Chick Lit; where she finds need for most of the useless facts lulling about in her head.

Colleen Coble

Colleen Coble writes romantic suspense with a strong atmospheric element. A lovable animal of some kind--usually a dog--always populates her novels. She can be bribed with DeBrand mocha truffles.

Denise Hunter

Denise Hunter writes women's fiction and love stories with a strong emotional element. Her husband says he provides her with all her romantic material, but Denise insists a good imagination helps too.

Diann Hunt

Diann Hunt writes romantic comedy and humorous women's fiction. She has been happily married forever, loves her family, chocolate, her friends, chocolate, her dog, and well, chocolate.

Hannah Alexander

Cheryl Hodde writes romantic medical suspense under the pen name of Hannah Alexander, using all the input she can get from her husband, Mel, for the medical expertise. For fun she hikes and reads. Out of guilt, she rescues discarded cats. She and Mel are presently taking orders from four pampered strays.

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