Villains are on my mind this week. Probably because I just watched Skyfall last night, and the villain was quite conflicted which didn’t make him more attractive to me, but it did make the story more interesting and compelling. He had a backstory that could have made him just as much a hero, or just as much a villain. As writer’s that’s the point of it, right? To craft a compelling story that makes readers enjoy it so much they want to come back for more.
I struggle with this because I don’t like villains much. In my current WIP it actually stalled me for a while because my villain wants to kill someone. And he’s killed before. When I came face to face with the idea that in order to give depth to the story I needed not only to give my villain motivation, I needed to understand it. Basically I fought against knowing the bad guy as well as I knew the heroine and her love interest. The desire to look deep into the thoughts of someone who killed wasn’t there for me.
What got me through it ultimately is that I wanted to tell this story. I can’t thank my readers enough for still asking for this story, and wanting to read it. In the end, I’d made more of an emotional blockage than a craft one. Once I finally made the decision to give the villain the history, life experience, and baggage that every other major character in the story had, it came together like clockwork.
Even if the villain is snarky ex-girlfriend, she too, deserves to be treated like the character she is, if she’s playing a major role.
What about you? Do you feel squeamish about villains, or are they just another day at the office?