21 August 2008


I respond to the first query about villains with intrigue. I teach writers to use as many antagonists as needed to create conflict and excitement on the page. I seldom concentrate on the archetype of the villain. The antagonists I focus on are the seven internal antagonists that plague our characters (as well as ourselves). There are also seven external antagonists.

I generally address only dictionary definition #3 of villain: a character in a story or play who opposes the hero.

My intrigue turned leery when I noticed the same message appear in the comment's section of the blog -- this time repeated three times.

Before I have a chance to post, I personally get slammed in the face with #4 definition of villain: one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty. Caught completely off-guard by the vehement anger and resentment thrown at me, I could not help but note the timing. My hesitancy to write about the villain paired with the email experience forced me to face my fear of the villain. Bullies scare me. So much easier to see them as antagonists -- a concept. Removed.

Instead of an actual post, I twittered about villains. Cop-out, I know. But still, a step...

Before I have a chance for an actual, the message returns, now with a threat. Don't answer and the writer will take his question elsewhere. My deepest reaction? Relief.

The message comes back.

Here goes:
The protagonist of a story of any kind, even in a blog post, sets out on a journey. Along the way she is tested both internally -- fears, hates, and / or flaw. She is also tested externally -- society, nature, other people, machines. Other people can be family members and friends, anyone out to stop the protagonist from getting what she wants.

A villain is darker and meaner. Family and so-called friends can be or become villains. The villain welds power enough to demand their own plot line. They are not changed and transformed by the dramatic action in the story -- as the protagonist is -- but their story has to hit the same key scenes in universal story form.

Have you ever faced a villain?? Not an antagonist but the archetype of a villain?? How dark and how evil? How do you deal with a villain -- in life and in your writing?? I only have that once. My lasting impression is being overpowered by blackness.