This has nothing to do with tonight’s post, but Fall Out Boy’s “Immortals” has been my jam since I watched Big Hero 6 a couple nights ago. I may not know what the Hell half of the lyrics are, but it’s fun listening. Also: it probably has a bit of a boost in how much I like it because I associate it with Big Hero 6, which is an absolutely phenomenal piece of cinema. Relating to movies, music, and so on, I’d like to take a moment from tonight’s post to say goodbye to Screen Robot. I found out it’s shutting down today. Screen Robot was one of the first homes to my writing that I didn’t create. I’m sad it’s gone, but as their Twitter pointed out I should be happy it existed and so I am.
Here’s a transition sentence because I’m feeling all sorts of lazy right now. Don’t you judge me, damn it.
It’s safe to say by this point I’ve established I prefer villains over heroes. One could even go so far as to say I’ve belabored that point, but that’s wrong because there is just so much to love about the wonderful world of villainy. Seriously, people: who do you think has more fun? The unlucky bastard who has to travel all the way to some far-off evil lair, getting battered and bruised along the way, or the evil genius with the frickin’ doomsday device? The answer’s obvious.
Villains are simply more fun to write. There’s no denying that, and with so many varieties of villainy it’s easy to get lost in having fun while writing them. I’m going to keep this relatively simple because I don’t want to write a thousand pages on this topic. There will be plenty of other blog posts down the road on the same damn topic anyway. Without compelling, well-written villains, even the best heroes aren’t any fun to watch. Their victories become hollow and bland. Here are just a few of the many entries one might encounter in a proper gallery of rogues.
The Two-Dimensional Baddie
Everyone’s seen this kind of villain before. They’re not really one of my favorites, as they often lack the depth really needed to make for a compelling character (as evidenced in the self-explanatory description, I suppose). These are the sorts of bad guys who swirl their capes/cloaks and twirl their mustaches while plotting dastardly deeds for the sake of being dastardly. If there’s a princes, she’s bound to be kidnapped. An impressionable youth? Doomed to being led astray. There’s not typically a ton of depth to these sorts, as they are often out for personal gain, destruction of good, and all things wicked.
The Evil Overlord/Overlady
These types are easily identifiable by their legions of minions, their strong, often socially or politically-driven, agendas, and their willingness to stop at nothing before their goals are achieved. With the Evil Overlord/Evil Overlady, there is much more room for building up their motives and methods of approaching domination. Maybe a villain’s motives are pure but their approach is, well, a little backwards. Maybe they’ve grown jaded along the way and stopped caring about how they achieve the intended goals they have in mind. There are a lot of fun possibilities with this type of villain, and if they’re handled right their downfall can be just as tragic as the messes they cause along the way.
The Sneaky, Manipulative Type
Wanted: powerful, influential, person or people to control from behind the scenes. Wealth a bonus. That’s the kind of want-ads a villain of this variety would put out. They’re sneaky and duplicitous, leaving readers (and, at times, writers) wondering exactly what they plan to achieve and how they’re going to get to that point. Moral compasses play a strong role in labeling exactly how villainous these sorts are.
The Power-Hungry Minion
Not all villains start off as the head honcho. Sometimes, in situations when the biggest and baddest isn’t willing to be big or bad enough, a minion has to rise up and do what’s right by being the most willing to do the most wrong. That sounded a lot more clever in my head, of course.
Not Evil, Just Misunderstood
Not so much a villain as a lost soul in need of guidance, these sorts of villains are really just blundering through life in hopes of finding meaning. Usually in the least effective, most village-destroying ways possible.
The hero-that’s-also-a-bad-guy-sort-of, anti-heroes fall into a weird place on the hero-villain spectrum. I’m not overly fond of writing them because they tend to shift one way or the other, with redemption or damnation being their inevitable ending. I realize that’s not an uncommon thing, but I’m not a fan of being unable to say “Nah, they may have done some good or bad, but they’re ultimately this”. My own writing is proof that the previous statement is a big ol’ heap of horseshit.
Stay tuned for tomorrow’s entry, which will talk about how I barely tolerate heroes even if they’re an essential part of stories. I guess.