Thursday, December 31, 2009

Villains -- Who to vilify?

Okay, so I dreamed I should make my villain in Constant Tower stand out more.
Heck, I have a lotta minor baddies but no real villain who has the big qualities that make a really memorable, effective, bad-ass villain.

So am pondering the story. What makes a great villain are motivation, family issues, power, something inside the villain that touches the reader and the villain's own particular style or panache. If he's gorgeous and hot that helps also. A good villain makes us admire him or hate him or worry that he's going too far -- that we understand where he's coming from but perhaps he's going a bit farther than we would go if we had that power. And it has to be done in a story that doesn't feel cliched or badly-plotted, or melodramatic.

So, motives: why is this character so hateful and why does the protagonist bug him so much? What the heck is his issue?

What power does he have to destroy the protag?

How does he get along with other characters?

How smart is he? How emotional is he? How moral is he? How sexual is he? How skilled is he in fighting?

Does he have a weak spot? Is it emotional or intellectual? Why?

And -- HECK!!!-- what if the protag is the villain?

So here I am... pondering who the heck I could bump up to the status of CT's main villain.

Cyrt? He represents the worst of the Wheel Clan (at least in Psal's eyes) He believes in the tribe's eugenicist ideals and hates it that the king allowed the lame disabled Psal to live. But he's really a bully and a trouble maker. And although he has a grudge he doesn't really think in the longterm. He's more impetuous. So yeah troublesome but not really great villain material.

Gaal? I really love Gaal. He has a woundedness like Naom in Wind Follower. Like Psal, he is also an outsider. But there's nothing physically wrong with his body. He brings out an emotional connection in me. I want to hold him and be loved by him. Yeah, just like Noam. But do I want him to be so like Noam? I don't want my villains in my books to be duplicates. He's a mirror image of Psal in many ways... and he wants to befriend Psal who rejects his friendship. He gets very nasty after that. But he's not really evil in the beginning. So how can he be a villain after being kind and neutral in the beginning?

Ezbel, the chief of the Voca clan? She's nasty, cruel, vindictive. And she is searching for the Constant Tower because she wants to rule the world. She also knows how to keen in daytime. But she is pretty much outside of Psal's reality and reach throughout the whole book. How evil can she be and how can she move the plot ahead if she's off in the distance murdering women and stealing babies? She's too far off plotting evil to affect Psal's motivation, conflicts, goals?

Prince Netophah, Psal's brother? He's the best of Wheel Clan warriors and has all their virtues and none of their flaws. He's kind and understanding. Trouble is Psal hates him and treats him like dirt. Another problem is that although Psal sees all Netophah's goodness as evil (because Psal hates his clan) Netophah isn't inclined to harming his brother.

Chief Samat, the chief of the Peacock clan? No, this wouldn't work. Samat is an enemy, someone Psal is warring against. But he's not an antagonist.

The entire clan as an entity? There's a thought. A communal villainy, a communal villain. The entire actions of the clan bothering Psal. Everything they do pisses him off. Psal has had the bad luck to be born into a clan he considers evil but the set up of the world is that he cannot leave.

So there I was pondering....

Then

I dreamed of a mennonite community and a boy pushes them out of the home they all dwell in. They knock down the walls and say to him: "Why do you do this to us? We're family!" I think it was my dream telling me that I should have a communal villain.

The more I think about it, the more I think Psal the protag has the capacity to go overboard. But do I want my protag, Psal, to so totally lose his bearings? But in a situation with communal evil -- the family/tribe as evil, the clan as people one must stick with but whom one does not like-- AAARGH!!!! But I think the communal villain thing is the best thing. They are the ones who do things.... and push Psal's buttons.

This would mean that we must hate the Wheel Clan as much as Psal hates it. But we're cocooned inside this clan. We are surrounded by them. We're in their longhouse and Psal's claustrophobia should become ours. The readers will have to hate the people they are reading about and living with. Uhmmmm. Gotta think.

Can't think of a story or a film with a communal villain. Gotta think.

But also I want to thank God for the first dream telling me about the villain problem and then the second dream telling me the answer to the villain problem.
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