We invited author Maria McKenzie today to lead us into how she writes villians.
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Lori was born a slave, but escapes from slavery. Her granddaughter, Selina, who passes as white, carries the secret of her African American ancestry like a painful chain, bound around her heart. Only when she tells her family the truth can she free herself from the pain of that secret. Escape is part one of the trilogy. While Lori escapes from bondage, her daughter, Lavinia, escapes from living as a “Negro.” In part two, Masquerade, Lavinia becomes a great actress in New York, all the while hiding her true identity. Revelation is part three, and in this story, Lavinia’s daughter, Selina, reveals the truth about her ancestry."
Buy links for Escape:
Humanize Your Villain
by Maria McKenzie
There's never a dull moment with a bad guy—or a bad girl, for that matter. Villains break all the rules of decency and morality. Lying/cheating/stealing is their MO, and political correctness doesn't exist in their world. Heroes don't make derogatory comments regarding race or sex, but with a villain, why not? Heroes don't smoke, and if they drink, they're merely social drinkers. Villainous women can be portrayed as promiscuous to the point of nymphomania. And a bad man isn't into real relationships, because he's too busy using and discarding women.
Heroes can be flawed individuals who have overcome some of the same demons villains don't see as demons. Perhaps a hero is a recovering alcoholic, recently quit smoking and still struggles, or maybe was a womanizer at one time, but no more—since finding "the one."
However, as the hero is flawed, the villain must to be humanized. Through back story, he or she must be seen as a person first, not a monster. Otherwise, that character will just come off looking like a cartoon bad guy. Reading bios of notorious criminals can help develop a believable villain.
Depending on the circumstances you choose to mold your bad guy’s psyche, the reading audience might feel a little sympathy (because his mother died when he was an infant, he lacked a mother's love), or make them hate him even more (because he was bitten by a dog as a child, as an adult he tries to run them over with his car).
In closing, here’s some great advice from Writers Digest showing five ways a villain might justify his actions:
· S/he’s righting a prior wrong
· S/he’s getting revenge (because the victim deserved to die)
· S/he’s seeking vigilante justice (because the criminal justice system didn’t work)
· S/he’s protecting a loved one
· S/he’s restoring order to the world
What a villain does makes sense to him or her in some twisted way, and though readers won’t like him, at least they’ll understand him on some human level.
How will you humanize your next villain?