So we all know the De’il has the best tunes. Have we wondered why? Why are villains so often the most attractive character on the page or stage and why, oh why, do girls fall for the baddie?
It’s true in every aspect of life. That cake with two inches of frosting is chosen nine times out of ten, but the slice of fruit cake languishing quietly has more depth and intensity of flavour. It just didn’t wear its best clothes to the party.
In sixth year I took what were called sixth year studies in Scotland. As part of the English exam, I had to write a ‘dissertation’: in reality a long essay supporting my chosen theme and including references. I went for the anti-hero. It was a time when Ian Fleming’s James Bond novels were all the rage and boy did they enrage my Head of English.
What can I say? Dr MacQueen was a dedicated teacher whose attention got me into my choice of course at my choice of University. I was a teenager.
Writing that essay began to let me see how the surface story isn’t the whole reveal and people, characters, have light and shade, good and bad. Would the hero necessarily have chosen the ‘right’ path if he’d been dealt the same chances in life as his antagonist?
I have villains in my two published books, Mariah’s Marriage and Bella’s Betrothal. They are crafted from known personality traits. The abuse of privilege is behind Lucas Wellwood but he adds murder, gambling addiction, physical mistreatment and theft along the way. It all sits purposefully in the story and moves it forward. How much did he get away with? You can find the answer in Mariah’s Marriage?
In Bella’s Betrothal there’s a male antagonist for my hero. He’s called Graham Direlton and he is a dissolute personality nursing a deep sense of grievance. This book, however, also hosts two female villains whose behind the scenes behaviour is deeply rooted in the restrictions and constrictions of being female at any time. Intelligent, feisty women get on with making life what they want. There are others who work to bring down their sisters: who cannot, as we say in Scotland, allow anyone to ‘be better nor she should be’. In other words, if I cannot achieve that, I’m not going to let you. It’s a theme I’ve used often in playwriting.
These are a few of my thoughts on my villains. If the subject interests you there are other blog posts up today about it. You can visit any of the following:
Aimee writing as A.J. Maguire at http://ajmaguire.wordpress.com/
Marci Baun http://www.marcibaun.com/
Diane Bator at http://dbator.blogspot.ca
Fiona McGier at http://www.fionamcgier.com
Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com
Geeta Kakade at http://geetakakade.blogspot.com/
Connie Vines at http://connievines.blogspot.com/
Beverley Bateman – http://beverleybateman.blogspot.ca/
Rhobin Courtright – http://rhobinleecourtright.com
http://goo.gl/pASdjp Mariah’s Marriage amazon US
http://goo.gl/NxYxj5 Mariah’s Marriage UK
http://goo.gl/PKptQg Bella’s Betrothal US
http://goo.gl/5RBzIm Bella’s Betrothal UK
You book premises on villains sound interesting; loved the cake analogy.
Thanks for stopping by, Rhobin. My husband and a close friend are devoted fruit cake eaters. Anne
Enjoyed your perspective. We definitely see ‘villains’ differently. I’m a pantser and write as my characters speak to me, so perhaps I’ve not yet had an encounter with a true villain… or my characters rely on me to resolve their issues as I write. I think there is a little of each of us in our stories, and I prefer to think there are enough bad people in the world without creating more. *lol* My villains are usually obstacles rather than people. I haven’t ever had a heroine fall for bad boy, but it poses an interesting idea. 🙂
Hi and thanks for stopping by. Yes, it’s really good that authors write differently and give readers such a variety. I am a bit of a pantser and it gets me into dead-end plot holes from time to time. Anne
HI Anne! Great to see someone new participating and leaving comments. Welcome!
I’ve often wondered why so many of us choose “the bad boy”. I think it’s sometimes a function of age, and sometimes of optimism. When I was younger and didn’t want a long-term relationship, I’d choose men based on their looks only…some turned out to be real losers. But once I left them behind, I didn’t care. When I got older and wanted a more meaningful relationship, I looked for a good man. He told me that in high school he was always being told by girls that he was “friend” material, NOT “boyfriend” material. He was devastated back then. I told him I was glad because their loss was my gain!
People need to realize that they can’t change other people to suit themselves. No matter how optimistic and determined you are, if you fall in love with a bad boy, you really know he’s bad, but you figure you can change him. Ri-ight! On what planet has THAT ever happened? Not this one!
Some of my characters “mess around” with bad boys, but ultimately realize that’s not good for their long-term future. Villains might make fun “hook-ups”, but not good husbands.
Hi Fiona,time difference makes this appear late, but I’m in the UK.
Thanks for your thoughts on this. It occurred to me while reading that I was the girl who was a ‘friend’ but not ‘girlfriend’. Fortunately, quality sometimes wins out. Anne
So you’re in Edinburgh? Me faither was from Glesca, and he taught me how to pronounce both names right. I’ve never been able to afford to visit the land of his birth, and never met my grandparents because they couldn’t afford to visit the Midwest either. My aunt used to come to visit every couple of years, and I got used to understanding her accent which of course, was a more pronounced burr than my dad’s. But after she had a heart attack, he wouldn’t let her come because there would be no way to afford caring for her if she were to have another health scare here because we didn’t (and still don’t) have universal health care.
But because I grew up thinking of the Scottish burr as “Dad”, I’m probably the only romance author who won’t ever even read, let alone write, a Highland romance. That accent isn’t hot to me so much as it reminds me of me departed faither!
Hi Fiona, I did wonder about your name as Fiona remains a very popular choice here. I’m sorry you miss your dad quite so much. It would be great if you were able to visit Glasgow sometime. It’s a vibrant city with some very lovely architecture. Anne
Hello again, Anne. I’m still waiting for my name to be the next Celtic “flavor of the month” name, since Megan and Caitlyn have had their years already in the USA. But despite being the princess’ name in all of the Shrek cartoons (thanks, Mike Meyers, for letting my kids call me a fat, green ogre!) it’s never caught on the way other names have. My aunt used to send me things like hankies with my name on them, because I’d complain to her that I could never find things preprinted with my name. Other kids had bicycle plates, lunchboxes, key chain tags, etc. But not me.
But when I was choosing a pan name to write under, I knew I wanted to keep my first name. Imagine my surprise when I typed in my entire maiden name, to find that it was used all over the world–wherever British people live, like Australia, Wales, Hong Kong, etc. So I made up a last name that doesn’t exist. Otherwise I feared readers would get confused trying to find my website!
Well there you go. Anne of course is very popular in my generation. In my children’s generation, much less so. Anne
Except me. LOL Well, I do choose the cake, but I don’t like baddies. I’ve never been attracted to the dangerous dudes. Which may be why I’m not a big fan of villains. I think they have a purpose in some stories. Many stories cannot function without a villain and life has it’s plethora of them as well, but they don’t appeal to me, except one. When I saw The Phantom of the Opera, I was rooting for the phantom. Why? Well, I believe the libretto was written in such a way that Raoul just came off as weak. Or perhaps it’s because of the actors who portrayed them. It’s hard to say. The phantom was portrayed by Michael Crawford. Raoul seemed positively wimpy. LOL
Hi Marci, it’s morning again in Edinburgh.
Yes, sometimes ‘villainy’ is about not being or following the cultural norm. Wonderful music in ‘Phantom’. Anne
Unique perspective on villians. I never go for the frosting ;-).
Hi Connie, time differences at work, but it’s am again in Edinburgh.
In my house the Christmas cake used to be picked clean of its icing and marzipan. so I went onto making the cake only! Anne
Interesting post. I like how you delve into what can make a person chose the path of the villain or what makes him a villain. Beverley
Hullo Beverley, I’m just getting up and you’ll all be just going to bed!
I hope my books do have substance behind all the characters. I know I find the opposing values interesting to write. Anne
The reason bad guys are chosen are the appeal of opposites and the fact the frosting lasts till the ink on the wedding certificate dries or as in ‘them’ days the last vow is said.
Hullo Geeta, thanks for looking in. Yes, it does help to have a foil for the goodies. Saw a great wedding cake on Friday and the icing was covering sponge – often the case here nowadays. Anne