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.

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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.

Friday’s Podcast: Throne of Glass

Join us this Friday, September 30, 2016 for our first episode as we discuss Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas where we’ll take a look at the villains and talking about the motivation driving the villains.

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin. Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king’s council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she’ll serve the kingdom for three years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she’s bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her… but it’s the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best. Then one of the other contestants turns up dead… quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

Find Sarah J. Maas online and on Twitter

Buy Throne of Glass here:
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Creating Legendary Villains

Since this podcast is focused on the bad guys of the literary world, I thought we’d take a moment to talk about what makes a great villain.  Sure, we’ve looked at making sure your baddies align themselves with some sort of overall scheme, and how forensic psychology can play a role in creating the perfect (or at least realistic) villain, but how do you go about writing one?

Well, I don’t have all the answers.

Writing villains can be very difficult, especially if you’re writing the villain from first person POV, because then we *only* see the villain through the eyes of our hero.  And that’s usually very biased.

To compound the issue, oftentimes we don’t meet the villain, so to speak, until closer to the end of the book.  So how do you make your readers fall in love with one?

The best piece of advice I’ve heard: 

The villain is the hero of his own story. 

villain-victim.png

Most villains are not evil by nature (setting aside the psychopath for a moment, that is). The best villains on the page, or screen, are those who are flawed, who are real, who have a rich backstory. Because it creates a small sliver of doubt in the reader: Could I possibly be turn out that way?

I recently ran into this problem in my current MS. I had a great story (first person POV) and though we knew the bad guy from early on, we don’t *know* he’s the villain until the end of the story.  Sound familiar? 

My problem was, how did I make the reader like this guy without shoving him down your throat? In fact, he’s not really close to my MC, he’s more on the fringes.  But then it hit me: If I show how much another character – my secondary main character, K – loves him, then I don’t need to worry about his overt interactions with my MC. I can make the readers fall in love with him because K is head over heels in love with him.

By doing this he’s not ‘just the villain’ anymore.  He’s a guy who comes from a home who took in stray kids to have one, big crazy family. He’s had to work hard to get to where he is in life. He fell in love with a great girl. He’s smart, good looking and cares about others. Sure, maybe he’s a little bit nerdy and overprotective, but everyone has a flaw, right? He’s human. He’s relatable. Maybe even lovable. Which makes his betrayal so much worse. 

What are your tips for writing a great villain?  

Some great articles on writing a legendary villain:

6 Ways to Write Better Bad Guys – Writer’s Digest

How to Create Legendary Villains – Kristen Lamb

Three Steps to Creating a Complex Villain

Nefarious Tales: My Favorite Villains

A great look at some awesome literary villains from others!

Bookishness and Tea

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Nefarious Tales: My Favorite Villains

Mishma from Chasing Faerytales invited me to take part in her Nefarious Tales villain event, and so of course I said yes! Here’s a bit about it taken from her blog.

I have never made it a secret that I love villains. A lot. My love for the bad guys is evident in my flailing in twitter and my rants on the blog. So I thought that it was fit that I dedicate a whole week to celebrate my favourite type of characters : villains!
After some brainstorming and some discussions in twitter, I came up with an idea to host a week long blog tour, where I invite bloggers to share their love for the bad guys in their respective blogs while I flail about them over here at Chasing Faerytales! 
This event is going to be called Nefarious Tales, and it’s going…

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Dissecting Villains Part 2: Profiling

There has been a lot of thought and effort into profiling serial killers, carried out by people much smarter than we are.  And thank god for that.  As much fun as playing around in the heads of killers can be, having to truly delve into their minds and then shuffle them into helpful categories is a challenge.  So we are perfectly content to let others do that for us.profiling words

One of the first things profilers look at was whether or not serial killers are organized or disorganized; which is extremely helpful to law enforcement in a number of ways. And really, writers benefit from knowing the distinction as well.  Because the organizational methods of a killer, or a villain in general, speaks volumes to what the character is like when they aren’t off reaping havoc.

So let’s take a look at organized versus disorganized serial killers:

Organized: average to high intelligence, socially competent, and more likely than the disorganized offender to have skilled employment. It is also claimed that he is apt to plan his offenses, use restraints on his victim, and to bring a weapon with him to commit the murder and to take the weapon away with him from the crime scene.

Disorganized: little, if any, preplanning of the murder. The disarray present at the crime scene may include evidence such as blood, semen, fingerprints, and the murder weapon. There is minimal use of restraints and the body is often displayed in open view. The disorganized offender is thought to be socially incompetent and to have below-average intelligence.

So right there, we can see how your villains methods will change based on intellect. And a good writer will make that come alive in their stories.

The other helpful bit of profiling (as it relates to writing) is the type of killer you are writing.  We’re not just talking about what motivates them, but what are they getting out of it?  This one is a bit harder to stretch when looking at non-serial killer based bad guys, but let’s start with the profiling aspect, shall we?

holmes typology

  • Act Focused v. Process Focused
    • ACT-FOCUSED (quick kill)
      • THE VISIONARY – hears voices or sees visions that tell him to kill (psychotic), the voices tend to be either God or the devil, legitimating the violence.
      • THE MISSIONARY – goes on hunting “missions” to eradicate a group of people (prostitutes, Jews, etc.) from face of earth, seems like “fine young man” to neighbors.
    • PROCESS-FOCUSED (slow kill)
      • THE COMFORT-ORIENTED HEDONIST – takes pleasure from killing, but also gets some profit or personal gain from it. Females usually in this category.
      • THE LUST-ORIENTED HEDONIST – associates sexual pleasure with murder, sex while killing and necrophilia are eroticized experiences.
      • THE THRILL-ORIENTED HEDONIST – gets a “rush” or “high” from killing, an elixir of thrills, excitement, and euphoria at victim’s final anguish.
      • THE POWER/CONTROL FREAK – takes pleasure from manipulation and domination (sociopath), experiences a “rush” or “high” from victim’s misery.

If you break the above down into writing (non-serial killer) villains, your breakdown may look more like this:

  • Act Focused v. Process Focused
    • ACT-FOCUSED (quick kill)
      • THE VISIONARY – while these villains may still be considered “psychotic”, not all of them all.  When writing, it’s easier to view this as those individuals who have outside forces controlling their actions.  Take away those forces, and would they kill?
      • THE MISSIONARY – These are your questors, and the ones seeking revenge. They have one goal in mind and the end justifies the means.
    • PROCESS-FOCUSED (slow kill)
      • THE COMFORT-ORIENTED HEDONIST – These are your characters that gain social standing from killing.  Yes, they may enjoy it, but the killing is part of a plan to be more comfortable in life.
      • THE LUST-ORIENTED HEDONIST – this one is a lot harder to look at when you’re not dealing with serial killers: mainly because if you kill to get off, you’re going to do it again and again; and it is the MOST common type of serial killer.  That being said, we would love to hear some literary villains out there that fall under this category!
      • THE THRILL-ORIENTED HEDONIST – These individuals don’t care about who or what they kill, as long as they get to kill.  These villains generally don’t last long because they lack focus, planning and organization, but boy do they have a good time doing so.
      • THE POWER/CONTROL FREAK – These are the characters who use their underlings as chess pieces for their own personal pleasure and care little about the misery it causes.  They have one goal: to take over the world (or kingdom, or galaxy)

So now that all that is out of the way, you may ask ‘well, what the fuck was the point of all that?’  And there’s a simple answer.  People who profile the worst of the worse villains have come up with these typologies to explain away behavior.  So when you’re writing realistic bad guys, it’s important to ask yourself: is my villain believable?  Because if it’s not you will lose your readers.  Trust me.

If you missed Part One you can read it here.

The Podcast…It’s Almost Here!

So why a podcast? Why listen to us? What makes us different from all the others?

AND MOST IMPORTANTLY: WHEN IS IT COMING???

Behold! All the answers you seek:

And, of course, the schedule*:

  Episode Date Book Topic
1 9/30/16 Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas Motivations driving the villain
2 10/14/16 Magic Bites by Ilona Andrews Plotter v. Pantster villains
3 10/28/16 False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen Villains present from page one
4 11/11/16 Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo The Antihero
5 11/25/16 Alpha & Omega by Patricia Briggs The Path to evil is paved with good intentions
6 12/9/16 Screaming Staircase by Jonathan Stroud Absent parents tropes
7 12/23/16 The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater Quest/Journey turns characters evil
8 1/6/17 Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost Supernatural Racism
9 1/20/17 Prince of Thorns by Mark Lawrence Evil Protagonist
10 2/3/17 Crimes Against Magic by Steve McHugh Time jumps throughout narrative
11 2/17/17 Free Agent by J.C. Nelson  TBD
12 3/3/17 TBD  TBD

 

*Schedule is subject to change. Because we’re unpredictable like that.  It makes it harder to stalk us.