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Maria McKenzie on Writing Villians!


We invited author Maria McKenzie today to lead us into how she writes villians.


Maria around the web:

Website        Facebook          Twitter          Goodreads

Maria has a new release, ESCAPE and in Maria's words, "The title of the trilogy is Unchained. 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:

Amazon         B&N




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?

 

19 comments:

  1. Nas, thanks so much for inviting me to Romance Reader today!

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    1. Welcome to Romance Reader, Maria!

      Looking forward to chatting with you!

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  2. I love it when a villain has a human side. :)

    Great post, Maria!

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    1. Thanks, Stina! Even though they're bad, they're human. Every villain was a baby at one time;).

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    2. And every villian has a mother/father siblings, right?

      Thanks Stina for reading along!

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  3. It is important to humanized the villains, but not always easy (for me) to find their soft and approachable sides when writing. I really need to step away and get to know them apart from the story.

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    1. Hi, Cynthia, thanks for stopping by:). It is hard to humanize someone you want your readers hate. But you have to do it to make him/her seem real--and that can be a challenge sometimes!

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  4. Such a fantastic post. I have been trying to make my antags more real. They really do love their granny. Or their dog. Or something. That makes them more authentic to the readers. Thanks Maria! :-)

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  5. Hi, Robyn! Glad you liked the post:). What you said reminds me of James Cagney in the moview White Heat. His character was such a bad guy, but he loved his mother!

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  6. Darn it. I need more villains in my stories. It'd be fun to explore a story from their point of view and humanize them...

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    1. Hi, Deniz! Thanks for stopping by. Great story idea;).

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  7. Those last five points are excellent tips for us to remember. Thank you and best wishes with all your books.

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    1. Hi, Lyn and thanks so much! Those five points put things in perspective from the villain's point of view. Using one makes the reader think, "Ok, he's twisted, but I see where he's coming from." ;)

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  8. Thanks for the great post.
    It's an interesting perspective... after all, villains are human beings and have a background story to share...

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    1. Hi, Michelle! You're welcome:). Villains are human and it can be interesting (and sad) to find what made them the way they are.

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  9. What great tips! I do love villains with a soft side.:)
    Nutschell
    www.thewritingnut.com

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    1. Hi, Nutshell! Yes, when villains have a soft side they're a little harder to hate. You know they're bad and you want to see them put away, but at the same time, you feel a little sorry for them. Thanks for visiting;)!

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  10. Fantastic advice. I need to be careful writing villains because my CP's notice I tend to make them all bad. I need to flesh them out more and give them some positive characteristics too.

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    1. Hi, Medeia! Glad you liked the advice:). All of us have good and bad characteristics, and the good ones outweigh the bad in most of us. Not so with villains!

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