Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Crafting the Villain and a Wii Bit of Fun

So my new WIP has a villainous vixen. It's so gratifying to design her. I want her to be just right, so I'm taking great lengths to understand what motivates her and what her main goal is. I've talked a bit about character motivation and goals in my last few posts, so if you missed any, check them out in my archives.

Here's a little bit I've learned on crafting the antagonist from Bob Mayer's workshop:

The Antagonist: Must be someone the reader respects (fears): smart, funny, kind, skilled, interesting, different. Must seem real; flawed, layered, and have a blind spot.
The antagonist must be in trouble. People tend to forget the antagonist has
problems too. Usually, the protagonist.
Must be introduced as soon as possible, even if by proxy. This one drives people
crazy. But you can’t have an antagonist that suddenly pops in for the climactic scene.
Often, the reader meets your antagonist, but has no clue that’s their role. Or, you introduce a proxy of the antagonist, or a minion of the antagonist. Either one introduces the antagonist.

The antagonist is the person on stage in the climactic scene, fighting the
protagonist because . . . their goals conflict. The reader must believe both will lose everything if they don’t defeat the other. Their goals are difficult to achieve because of external barriers, primarily each other.

The antagonist must have strong, believable motivation for pursuing her external
and specific goal. We might not agree with what they are doing, but at least it makes sense to us, given who the antagonist is as a character.

In short, no antagonist, no story.

On a side note, I read an awesome idea on my bloggy friend, RogueMutt's post the other day and had to try it. He blogged about how he designed his characters using Mii on the Wii game. If you have a Wii, you should really try this. It was so much fun. Plus, it gives you a concrete idea of what your characters should look like--everything from the shape of their face to the arch of their eyebrows can be designed just like you want it. I love the amazing ideas I get from you guys. Such a creative lot, you are! :)

Also, still time to sign up for Erin Spock's Paint it Purple Blogfest. This time you can use as many adverbs and as much purple prose as you like. Just for kicks. Click on the pic and sign up:

So what do you think? Have you ever designed your characters on Wii? Aside from Wii, how do you craft your villains or antagonists? Any tips or suggestions to share?


Rogue Mutt said...

Besides the Wii, you could also use the Sims or World of Warcraft or something like that where you have to design characters.

Old Kitty said...

Hi, first time on your swirly blue blog!! Very nice!!

Erm.. wii?? No idea!!! Your villanous vixen sounds thoroughly sexy in a very bad way! Yay - nice to have antagonists who are sizzling hot and I don't mean just in looks either. :-)

Take care

welcome to my world of poetry said...

I have a Wii but have never experimented on the games, I usually do the wii fit or ten pin bowling also yoga and have an excercise wii bike,


Jennifer Hillier said...

Can I just say, I LOVE villains. I write thrillers, and you can't have a thriller without a villain!

My favorite villains are the ones who torture the reader as much as the protagonist. The ones who make you feel empathy, then turn around and horrify you with their cruelty. The ones who fascinate you with their cunning but scare the crap out of you with their single-mindedness.

I could go on and on... :)

William Kendall said...

I don't have a Wii, so...

Strange... how I've followed the notions in that workshop passage without seeing it before. A lot of my work on my villains has been like that.

Angela Scott said...

This was very interesting to me because I will be facing this issue with my sequel. I have a villain I've touched upon, but he's going to play a big role in the next book. I don't usually write villains--I write more about circumstance--so this is new to me. I'm actually going to a writers convention this coming weekend in which one of the classes will be getting into the psychology of the character, much like you said above. Oh, this will be fun. I'm going to have to learn to tap into my evil side wahahahaha! Darn my humorous nature--this is gonna be tough.

Great post and wonderful advice. Thanks for sharing.


Florence said...

I'm having communication problems. After all, it was only a few weeks ago I finally figured out what the hell xoxo means. I'll send this to my daughter and maybe she can help me understand how you create a character with a Wii.

Here I am a mama lion with no tweet in my twitter and no zig in my zag. My grandson would shrink into the wallpaper, except no one uses wallpaper these days. My poor granddaughter will have to explain to her friends that grandma is old now and ... well it's not my fault ... I still have a short, chubby TV that sticks out a mile.

I'm glad you're having fun 'cause I'm feeling one hundred and fifty years old. :) :)

Jules said...

Never thought of using Wii for characters, they are all so...weeble looking :)

As the antagonist, I thought you were talking about me for a minute :)
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Anonymous said...

These are good points about villains! I'm in the middle of planning for a new project, I'll have to remember to make my villain strong.

As for making my characters with the Wii, I've never tried it. There are a lot of options, I'll have to play around with it someday! :)

McKenzie McCann said...

When I was a very small child (perhaps 6 or 7) I told my mother "if there's no conflict, there's no story."
However, I don't like the villain always needs to be a person. Sometimes the villain is society, or a group of people.

Lo said...

Great post! I'm struggling to define my antagonist now, and this really helps me think about things.

LM Preston said...

Oh, I love writing in 'bad' can't wait to hear more about your evil one.

mooderino said...

When actors play baddies they say they don't see themselves as the bad guy. I think writers also have to see things from the antagonists perspective if they want the character not too feel like a caricature.

Hart Johnson said...

Oh, GREAT antagonist thoughts! My first book's weakest point was the antagonist(s) not being quite credible, but I think this can helpf flush them out, so thank you for that!

Jolene said...

Ooh, does this make the Wii a business expense??? :)

Anonymous said...

Designing a character on the Wii or another computer game is a fantastic idea! Changes are easy to make and then you have an instant image.

We have a Wii and the kids and hubby spend insane amounts of time messing around with their profiles. Super fun!

Christi Corbett

Shari said...

I find pictures of them and pin them to my pinterest boards, but I've never created a Mii. I. Must. Do. That!!!

LTM said...

OK, giggle, I love "the antagonist has a problem. The protagonist." LOL! :D

I don't have a Wii (!) so I guess I've never done that, but I do just try to get to know my characters as much as possible before I start writing. Helps immensely~ <3

DM said...

Wow, who knew? Never knew that about Wii. Great article on character development.

Arlee Bird said...

I suppose there can still be a story with no specific, overt, easily identifiable antagonist. As alluded to in a couple comments we can have conflict that is internal for the protagonist or we can have circumstance, like weather, the economy, etc, that the mc must overcome.

In the case where the problem is ideologies or movements there might be agents of antagonism who are not major characters and who may be introduced in a climatic scene without ever having a specific person as an antagonist. Off hand I can't think of specific examples and perhaps this type of literature would be more concerned with philosophical issues than exciting story line.

Tossing It Out
Twitter hashtag: #atozchallenge

Stina Lindenblatt said...

My Wii characters are based on the mcs in my novels. I use the Wii character (when my kids let me play it) for the book I'm working on.

Glad to hear I'm not the only one doing this. :D

Nas Dean said...

Your vixen sounds fun! Thanks for sharing the tips on shaping up a villianious character!

BTW, I'm hosting Roland D Yeomans today, who self-published his book THE BEAR WITH TWO SHADOWS and is sharing his journey with us as well as a four book giveaway!


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