First off, I apologize for being a day late in posting. The headache monster visited yesterday, so I got little of my work accomplished.
Villains are tricky. We as writers often see the villain as a tool, two dimensional concept of evil…as a reader though I am here to tell you that is the end of a story. Even worse than plot holes, a two dimensional villain is enough to ruin an otherwise great story.
I have a sure fire way of testing my villains. I give them flaws, make them as realistic as I can. Then I imagine them in town and let the mental movie unfold… I as I am watching ask myself three questions…
1) Is the character sympathetic? A villain who we can sympathize with will make the story more interesting. Also I am one who thinks that the story should leave the reader wondering if they are happy with the villains defeat.
2) Is there a way to defeat the villain? Though I think that the villains defeat should raise questions about how the reader feels about it, defeat is usually in the life of a villain. And a overpowering villain is often no fun for the hero… Unless the story is not supposed to get the happy ending.
3) what are the traits that are showing up most with your villain? Has s he/ she got flaws or traits that you should pay closer attention to? A good villain often has fears, and accomplishments that they are proud of. This makes a far more rounded character. Villains are still characters, and the story is best when you treat them as such!
Zombiepalooza Radio Live
So I got the chance to sit down and talk to Jackie Chin from Zombiepalooza. And I didn’t blow it. I was definitely nervous but I had a lot of fun! If you have not checked her out, then you really should.
They are definitely not your average family. They live in a junkyard. They are a big family. When the dead walk, well, they handle it. Survive first. Figure out why later.
Meet Chris Robinson, former marine special forces, and his family. Shara, his 13 year old daughter. Amara, his wife. Tara, former navy seal, and Lizzie, scientist, his younger sisters. The rest of the family are there but as the dead start to get their rotting asses back up, how many will remain?
Will they be able to figure out the why? And what caused the dead to walk???
*picture for inspiration only. Found on Google *
Each person views aesthetic beauty differently. As a writer I tend to struggle with the concept. Physical beauty has a different description depending on the narrator. So describing a character with a flair in many ways requires a narrator who is fleshed out and real in the writer’s mind. The narrator’s voice will also affect the character’s beauty. For example, if the narrator speaks of a woman “Her mouse colored hair hung limply over dull eyes of chocolate brown.. ” most will see her as unattractive. However, if the narrator instead says “Her lovely mouse brown hair sheilded her large chocolate eyes, which were dulled with pain.” we feel an attraction to the character.
So when writing one must keep the voice of the story in mind. We writers often see our characters as children, and thusly love them all. My issue is that i am inclined towards gorgeous villains. I usually like to believe that most great villains have a backstory that explains why they are. The readers often do not get to read the villain’s story. Perhaps that’s why we judge beauty so harshly….because we see only part of the tale.
I am one who leans towards a feminist bent in my point of view. Now saying that, It isn’t because I hate men or any such crazy thing as that. I merely think gender equality should be a duh statement. Part of this is because I am female. Part is because I have a daughter. Too often women are told that they should not be strong and independent. Media has come along way in the last two decades. There was so few in my late teens. When I was growing to adulthood there was Linda Carter as Wonder woman. Really on television (unless you were into British tv) she was it.
However in the last few decades strong female roles have popped up all over the place. My favorites (again limited to American television ) are Abby from Ncis, Bones from Bones, Abby from sleepy hollow, Claire from Outlander, Clarke from the 100, Whiskey from the dollhouse, Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher from ST:NG, Ivanova from Babylon 5, Regina from Once upon a time. There are a few others, but the principal ideas are there. Many of those are strong intelligent women trying to survive in what is traditionally men’s jobs. That is what I think of as a good female role.
As a writer and a reader that is what I look for in my female character development. What do you look for? Which are your favorites on television?
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet.”
― William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Names are unfortunately a necessary evil. There are so many meanings and so many options where names are concerned. Many grow to dislike the name that was given them, for various reasons. Some seek to change the name given them. As a writer I have often used a brain exercise involving names to clear my mind. It’s actually even a semi interesting game. Choose a letter… any one will do. I often do all the letters to expand my mind, but all that is necessary is one. Then using the chosen letter list every name you can think of. For example if I choose “f” I would likely do a list like this:
Forest Fredrick Francine Frank Franco Francis Flicka Flora Florence Flo Fred Frieda Fanny Franny Filla Francisco Francois Fenton Fester Fang Fresca Fip Frack Faith Ford Fessa Fry Frost Fauna Fenella Fena Fenelle Flava Fish
Admitted I usually do better but this was just an example. The only rules are that it must be a name or make sense if used as one. Now as a writer this has more than one purpose.
First it really is a brain exercise. It causes you to concentrate. Thinking of those names are harder than you think. Find it too easy? Set a goal for how many names you will think of. Brain exercises are something that gets your mind thinking, not always something that requires genius levels of thought.
Second it can clear the mind for writing. Sitting down to write is sometimes complicated by the random thoughts bouncing around in your mind. Meditation helps but some fun can as well.
And lastly, it gives you a list of names to help to flesh out various characters in your story with.
This is a easy game to use in both solitary and community play. Set a time frame. A minute or five. Then whomever gets the most names in the time allowed wins.
Remember unusual names are more possibility. Especially if you can give a neat background on the name. For example, My little brother is named Shane. My parents had a difficult time naming him. My father wanted to name him John ad a relative. My Mom felt the name John too common. So they reached a compromise. Shane is a derivative of john. This adds to the story of who the character of Shane is.
So what is your favorite name? And why? What does the name mean? Sometimes choosing the meaning of the character name will help you to build a character that sticks in your reader’s mind. Keep in mind that if the person grew in some societies with an odd or unusual name it may not have been a pleasant thing. Or when they had said name. For example. I had an aunt named Beulah. Now days this name is fairly antiquated. This would cause cruel treatment from the peers of any child with the bad luck to be given it.
So cmon…names…. discuss.
What is it that makes memorable? All writer’s try to make the characters they write pop. It’s more than just good description. It is in personality and interaction. In some ways a really good story is a puzzle. Just one piece out of place will cause the story to be ruined. The pieces of a really great story, the ones that keep it strong in the reader’s mind, are strong characters and a good plot. There are so many smaller elements, still I believe without the major building blocks of character and plot, stories don’t stick.
I love complex characters who are very realistic. Ones who have flaws and seem to have more than one dimension. Emotions are not always easy to express well. So a well written scene is a wonderful treat for a reader. So what traits make the character most memorable for you?