I recently took my 4 year old monkey to see the movie: Rise of the Guardians. It’s a great movie if you haven’t seen it, but it led to a discussion of villains last night that made me say, “Oooh! I should share that on Bad Girlz Write!”
In the movie Santa tells Jack Frost about his center. According to Santa, everyone has a center and Jack needs to find his. Santa’s center is: eyes of wonder at all of the magic in the world. Jack goes on to try to discover his center over the course of the movie. What do they mean by center? His core, way down deep what is at the root of Santa.
So, back to the discussion of villains…My little monkey has an imaginary arch-nemesis named “Mr. Grumpiness.” They battle daily and I hear about Mr. Grumpiness’ travel plans and day to day activities all the time. Last night the monkey asks me, “What’s Mr. Grumpiness’ center?”
I said, “Grumpiness?” (And now we’ve reached the point in the story when I get schooled by my 4 year old.)
He replied, “No, no, no, Mommy. Mr. Grumpiness wasn’t always evil. He became Mr. Grumpiness. Grumpiness isn’t his center.”
Damn. He’s right.
Villains have to be more than mean people in the world.
Perhaps in real life people are born evil, doing bad deeds from a young age. But, in fiction, they become evil. Whether it’s being dropped into a vat of acid like the Joker or losing the love of their life like Darth Vader, all villains have an inciting incident. Likewise our villains should have some point of flipping to the dark side. Most likely this won’t actually go into the printed pages of your story, unless you have a sympathetic, villainous hero, but it will help you to understand the villain you’re writing.
- What happened to the villain of your story to turn him/her to a life of crime?
- Why does he/she have a vendetta against your hero/heroine?
- Can you incorporate some element of that moment into the climax of your story to give it more punch?
Even villains have a backstory. While I’m not advising you should info dump this into your story, it may help to understand his/her motivation. It could also give some depth to the evil monologue just before his/her defeat. Sometimes real life is random and unfair. Some people in the world are just mean. In fiction, however, everything and everyone has a driving force. I’ve been pondering my villain’s center since last night and I think it’s a greedy, selfish form of love. As for Mr. Grumpiness’ center, I think I’ll leave that for the monkey to discover on his own. *grins*
What’s your villain’s center?