Friday’s Podcast – The False Prince

Join us this Friday on the Bad Buys Booze & BS Podcast as we discuss The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen where we’ll take a look at the villains and talk about villains who are present from the first page.

In this first book in a remarkable trilogy, an orphan is forced into a twisted game with deadly stakes. Choose to lie…or choose to die. In a discontent kingdom, civil war is brewing. To unify the divided people, Conner, a nobleman of the court, devises a cunning plan to find an impersonator of the king’s long-lost son and install him as a puppet prince. Four orphans are recruited to compete for the role, including a defiant boy named Sage. Sage knows that Conner’s motives are more than questionable, yet his life balances on a sword’s point — he must be chosen to play the prince or he will certainly be killed. But Sage’s rivals have their own agendas as well. As Sage moves from a rundown orphanage to Conner’s sumptuous palace, layer upon layer of treachery and deceit unfold, until finally, a truth is revealed that, in the end, may very well prove more dangerous than all of the lies taken together. An extraordinary adventure filled with danger and action, lies and deadly truths that will have readers clinging to the edge of their seats.

Connect with Jennifer Nielsen on her webpage and on Twitter.

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Pantster v. Plotter Villains

If you’re a writer you know them as plotters and pantsters. Those scribes who painstakingly plot out each and every twist and turn their novel will take before pen even touches the page. Versus the ones who have no idea what’s they’re going to have for dinner let alone where their hero will end up at the beginning of chapter 3.

In forensic psychology we refer to them as disorganized versus organized: the killers that have a plan, and who follow it meticulously – even if the plan only makes sense to themselves. Completely unlike the killers who act at the spur of the moment or because the voices in their head told them to.

Gamers have lawful versus chaotic. Sets of rules versus a swirling mess of morals.

No matter what background you come from you have words for it: guidelines that separate people and characters into columns based on their actions. Because at one time or another, we have all asked ourselves: Is there a method for their madness?

Our podcast last week dealt with this exclusively. Are villains more diabolical if they’re predictable – those who have a plan and plan for every contingency – or if they are reactionary?

What do you think?

Friday’s Podcast: Magic Bites

Join us this Friday on the Bad Buys Booze & BS Podcast as we discuss Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews where we’ll take a look at the villains and talk about organized versus disorganized villains, affectionately known as your plotters and your pantsters.

When the magic is up, rogue mages cast their spells and monsters appear, while guns refuse to fire and cars fail to start. But then technology returns, and the magic recedes as unpredictably as it arose, leaving all kinds of paranormal problems in its wake.   Kate Daniels is a down-on-her-luck mercenary who makes her living cleaning up these magical problems. But when Kate’s guardian is murdered, her quest for justice draws her into a power struggle between two strong factions within Atlanta’s magic circles.   The Masters of the Dead, necromancers who can control vampires, and the Pack, a paramilitary clan of shapechangers, blame each other for a series of bizarre killings—and the death of Kate’s guardian may be part of the same mystery. Pressured by both sides to find the killer, Kate realizes she’s way out of her league—but she wouldn’t have it any other way…

You can find Ilona Andrews online and on Twitter.

Motivations driving the villain

What makes us love the villain?

A good villain can make or break a story. Our heroes need someone to root against, someone we can hate, someone who makes us love our main characters even more. If our villain falls flat, oftentimes our story will too. The cardboard cutout villains with no ulterior motives just don’t make for a good story. Give me your complex villains that we can love in our own way. The evildoers that we can sympathize with because we realize that given the right set of circumstances that could be you. The villain is the hero of his own story after all.

 

One of my favorite villains in recent pop culture is Zod from the Man of Steel movie. Zod is not evil, per se. Since birth he has been bred for one purpose: to protect Krypton. And he fails. Miserably. As in the planet implodes on itself, but not before General Zod and his comrades are blasted into space for their crimes. And their heinous acts? Acting against the government to do what he felt needed to be done to preserve his species. Fast forward a few decades and Kal-El is on planet Earth holding the only key to re-create Krypton, the planet Zod dedicated his life to protect. Of course, Zod’s master plan involves annihilating the human race and recolonizing Earth to allow the rebirth of his people. Superman just ain’t having that.

 

Evil plans aside, we would have no movie if it weren’t for Zod. The entirety of the plot is moved forward as Kal-El struggles with his identity and fitting in on a planet where he doesn’t belong. So when Zod threatens to destroy it all, Kal’El must react. Without Zod, we have a Nicholas Sparks novel. Yuck.

And if you want to get to the crux of the matter, Zod isn’t necessarily evil: He was born and bred for the sole purpose of protecting his people and he sees Earth as his chance for redemption. How does that make him evil? On top of it, he doesn’t believe what’s he’s doing is evil.

These types of motivation make for the best villains, in my opinion. It’s easy for me to look down on the big bad evil who kills for fun, or those that kill for a litany of other problems: money, power, revenge, or jealousy. But those sympathetic characters are the ones we love to hate. And boy do we love them.