Posted in Characterization

The Villain Makes the Story

Have you ever wondered what a story/movie would be like if there were no clashing forces going against the main character? It would be boring to the point there would be no story. Not really anyway. Believe it or not villains create that extra zing of emotion for the reader/viewer to the point we sometimes feel as though we’re in the story/movie.

I finished reading a book a few days ago that had me talking back to the characters, and I mean saying things like, “Really? Don’t you see it has nothing to do with terrorism?” At one point I said, “Oh my gosh, this author.” My husband asked, “What?” To which I responded with, “The author drug this out way to much.” Actually, the author did his job, and he did it well. The villains were smug, very smug, and they thought they had everything going the way they wanted it to. Well, they did. The reader (this reader) wanted them to get what was coming to them (and they did eventually). That folks is story, suspense, emotion building writing.

So remember….when you are creating your villains, make sure to give them lots of tender loving care. You want them to connect with the reader too.

The book I spoke of above is linked below just in case you might want to read it. It’s book 5 in the Alton Blackwell Files series by Steven F. Freeman.

Posted in Characterization

Character Names

How do you choose names for your characters? Do you merely assign them a name without giving much thought to it? Do you use a process? There are quite a few things one can do to assign names to their characters. I’ve used a baby names book. Looking names lists online works too. If your character is of another culture or country whose names are different than those used in your own, some baby names books have lists of common names used in different countries.

In one of my pieces of writing I used characters of 4 real life people. I asked them permission first. Please, if you are ever going to do this, ask that person or persons permission to use them in your book/story. When I was renaming these 4 people for my story, I tried to choose names that fit their personalities. Trust me, this wasn’t as easy as it may have appeared to be. One gentleman helped me with that, so that one was easy enough to put a name to. The other three took some thinking. I got my baby names book out and browsed male names. I thought of each person individually and then tried out a name on them. I went through several before settling on some that worked well and matched each of their personalities. There was only one problem. One of the guys I couldn’t think of a name for. At all. So I, for the time being, left his name alone and used his real name until I could think of one that suited him. FINALLY, after writing 25 chapters, I thought of the perfect name for him. Of course, I had to go back and change his name throughout the manuscript, but it was worth the wait.

Most often you’re not going to use real people. But the same thing still rings true. The people you make up will have personalities and you will have to choose a name that fits that personality. Also, if you are going to assign a name to a character that sounds funny or out of place, you might want to explain why they were given that name by making that part of your story. For example, if you give one of your female characters the name of Spunky Dickson (a funny name for a female anyway), have the character tell why her parents named her that. Maybe the whole story centers around that. Maybe Spunky is a nickname.

Have fun choosing names for your characters. Don’t make it a chore. Work with it and mold it into your story.

Posted in scenes

Reaction

You’re writing a scene with an event that should strike your main character as surprising or distressing. BUT instead your character reacts in a way that makes no sense at all. Maybe you had your character have to shoot an intruder and it was the first time they had to shoot anyone. How would a person normally react in a situation like that, if it was their first time having to shoot someone?

Make sure your character who is going through that for the first time reacts the right way. If, for example, they walked away from the above situation behaving as though it was no big deal, then there better be a logical reason for them doing so. I say this because I know I would freak out if I had to shoot someone. Or I’d panic. Maybe others would become despondent or go into shock.

If your characters reactions don’t match the situation, the readers will know, and they’ll get distracted from the story. You don’t want that. It could even cause them to put it down, and you definitely don’t want that.

Posted in Characterization

Villains (Part VII)

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When you’re in a competition, you give it your all, everything you’ve got. You may be nervous at first before you start because you want to win. You don’t want to lose. Then your mom, dad, or friend says, “Just do your best. That’s all you can do. That’s all anyone can do.” In your mind, losing is losing, not winning. But…..in your villains mind, losing is winning.

What do I mean by this? Remember in the previous post (Villains Part VI) I said villains take pleasure in the protagonist’s pain. Well, yes. If burning everything down so your main character will lose everything but gives your villain pleasure in that main character’s loss, then the destruction of all is worth it to them. Go for the gusto with your villain’s actions. Have your villain throw ‘fuel on the fire’ (so to speak) as many times as it takes to cause destruction.

Ultimately, what is the reason behind the importance of making a great evil villain? Readers who continue turning the pages of your story all the way through to the end.

Posted in Characterization

Villains (Part VI)

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Watching someone open a gift, listening to your favorite music, a day at the beach, or even a walk in the woods; might give you pleasure. Now, normally, activities like the this would. But for villains in your stories, what gives them pleasure is none of the above. Oh No. They get pleasure from the pain of others. To your villain, other peoples’ pain is climactic, exhilarating, and releases the feel good chemicals inside their brain. They thrive on seeing others’ hurt and to the point where they have to continue in their hurtful behavior so they can continue to feel that pleasure.

Types of pain they inflict can be:

  • Psychological
  • Emotional
  • Physical
  • Spiritual
  • Worse yet (and most preferable) a combination of all of these

When it comes to dreaming up ways your villain could possibly hurt your main character, think outside the box. Be creative about what you want them to do. What makes your villain’s actions different than others you have read about in other books. Mold them. Make their pain causing actions unique.

Posted in point of view

Strong Point of View

First Person POV: The story is told from the story teller’s point of view and uses the pronoun ‘I’, ‘us’, ‘our’, or ‘ourselves’. It can also be narrated by the protagonist/main character, witness, or side character.

Third Person POV: The story is told from outside the story and the narrator refers to the characters by name or as ‘he/she/they’ and also ‘him/her/them’. Types of third person include:

  • Third Person Omniscient: the narration of the story is told with a voice as if from the author. They take on an all knowing perspective on the story being told.
    1. Example: As Rob and Janet slunk in their seats to watch the movie at the drive-in theater, he hoped he’d get lucky in the backseat of his car, and Janet secretly wished it was Dave snuggling next to her instead.
  • Third Person Limited: only the narrator knows only the thoughts and feelings of a single character. Other characters are presented externally.
    1. Example: He reached over to hold Jill’s hand but stopped halfway. Did she want him to, or would she slap him?
  • Third Person Objective: think of this POV as a peeping tom. The narrator is neutral and not privy to the thoughts or feelings of the characters’.
    1. Example: She twisted her hands, as she paced the floor of her bedroom.


For a stronger point of view that pulls the reader into the story, use verbs that create action directly (note the bold faced words in the examples above). When you do this, emotions are created at the same time, which is felt by the reader and pulls them in even further. Now your reader is hooked. They want to know how the story is going to play out and change for the better/or worse. Have you ever read a book you can’t put down? Strong point of view is all part of that.

Posted in Characterization

Villains (Part V)

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How many times over the course of your life have you played a game with that one person who can’t help cheating to win the game? They are out there. In stories, they most definitely are there. They are called the antagonist, your villain. And they don’t play by the rules. In their minds the law doesn’t apply to them. If they can get what they want by breaking the law, so be it.

Their drive comes from interest in themselves. Their behavior is immoral/amoral. They lie, cheat, steal, deceive, and manipulate. If it puts money in their own pockets, they will take a bribe, blackmail, or do whatever it takes. Whatever the case, they always have ulterior motives.

When creating your villain, think outside the box. What are some creative ways your villain can break the rules to achieve their goal(s)?

Posted in Characterization

Villains (Part IV)

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Years ago, I had this “friend” who, when I first met her, appeared to be very nice. I’ll call her Gina for purposes of this story (It’s not her real name). She invited me to her house. We talked and shared information like pre-teen girls usually do. We had a lot of fun…..at first. Then the blowback came. One day she started telling all the other girls in our class all the information I shared with her. I’m not the only one she did this too. She would apologize and gain my trust again then turn around and manipulate the situation to her advantage. From that point forward, she began pitting all of us against one another. She was so good at trickery and conniving that she was never suspected of anything. This story could go on and on but for purposes of this blog, I’ll just leave this story here, LOL. This went on for two years (7th and 8th grade). During my 8th grade year I stopped hanging around her and that group of girls all together. She didn’t make it easy on my though.

I can honestly say that Gina is the perfect example of a story villain. They can not be trusted with anything whatsoever. This doesn’t mean they won’t try to gain one’s trust. They will because they are masters at knowing how to do that. Keep in mind, villains have very high social IQ’s and so they know how to manipulate people and situations. Ultimately, gaining the advantage and keeping it in any situation that serves themselves is what their goal is.

People are naturally trusting, so use this to your advantage when plotting your story. Here again, the villain will exploit the trust of others to obtain the advantage. And, YES, they are ALWAYS looking for ways to back stab anyone, this means adversaries and allies alike.