Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Don't Forget about the Bad Guy

Working on the third "Mist" book and staring at the final conflict. This is usually the part of the book where I struggle most, because I'm generally a peace-loving person, so manufacturing a major confrontation doesn't come naturally.

When an author lays out a new book, she endeavors to get to know her characters, their personalities, their backgrounds, their goals, what motivates them, what frightens them. It is essential to build conflict into their relationships in order to give them something to overcome and help them grow--and I've done that in this third story.

I've tried diving into the confrontation organically, which is my writing process, but that didn't work. So I took my fallback approach, which is to write detailed notes about what I want to happen, how it will happen, which I can then incorporate in story form. And then I realized I had to essentially rewrite my last two chapters because it doesn't fit. Frustrated, I called my editor to make an appointment with her (A deadline to work toward. We're looking at an October or November release. I'll keep you posted) and told her where I was struggling. So she brainstormed with me. And I realized I'd overlooked one step in my process.

My villain showed up at the end of Gathering Mist. I knew who he was, knew a little bit about his background, but that was as far as I'd developed him. Silly me! Kelly pulled out a reference book and we went through a Q&A brainstorming process to FINISH developing his character. Villains are people, too, with complex relationships and thought processes. I did that for Thiago in the last book, but somehow I'd skipped the rest of the details on the guy in THIS book.

Villains have goals. They need motivation to accomplish those goals, and they have personal conflicts to overcome. In working through the traits I'd forgotten to look at, I found my "black moment" was going to be even stronger, thanks to him. Villains have black moments, too (that moment when "all is darkest before the dawn," to incorporate a cliche). I've known the black moment for my hero and heroine almost from the start of this novel (which is a novelty - that's usually difficult for me, as well), and now that I know more about my villain, he's playing his part admirably to contribute to that "all is lost" moment.

Villains aren't all bad. Something happens to them to make them that way. In this book, his future doesn't look very bright as a result of his bad choices, but as an author, I should never forget that once upon a time, he was an innocent little boy, influenced by things that made him the way he is today, things he didn't have any control over.

Memo for next time. When doing character sketches, don't forget about the bad guy.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, the villain thinks he's the hero of the story.