The Foreboding Villain: Sometimes He Doesn't Exist...
Ahem, back to the subject.
I took lot longer to get to this post than I was planning. My job has been a bit more time consuming lately (thinning apples takes a lot of time) and I have been writing other things. But I'm back now, so let's wrap this series up!
So we've now covered why villains are important, why making a good villain character is important and what villain is best for what type of story. But here's a question that someone raised up and one I was going to address, anyways- what if I don't have a villain?
There is another type of villain most people don't realize is there- it's the character's own self. Sometimes, the greatest antagonist we can create is the struggle in our main character. Bailey wants to be a good Christian girl, but struggles with lying and is often tempted to disobey her parents. The antagonist of this story is Bailey's own sin nature. Sometimes the villain isn't someone you can see, it's something you know to be wrong.
Another type of "villain" isn't a villain at all- it's an antagonistic character who is hurting your main character. This can be a mean ol' brother who doesn't believe his little siblings know anything. This can be a bullysome kid at school. This can be the cool teenager down the road who tells you it's okay to do things your parents told you not to. Those characters, they're not really villains, they're antagonists. An antagonist is basically something or someone who is hindering your main character.
So what if you don't have a villain? What if your story is about overcoming temptation, overcoming fear, or learning to love the kid down the road who drives you crazy?
There are some rules for doing these stories as well, but for the most part, they're not too hard.
1) If this is a story of overcoming personal struggles, don't make the struggles too, well, sappy. These are real life struggles. It can be anything, everyone struggles with something. But make it realistic for the character's age. If Ivan is a thirty-seven-year-old former MVD officer, he's not going to probably struggle with feeling like he's got no friends and learning to trust God in bringing him a friend. That would be more appropriate for a nine to seventeen-year-old girl. But Ivan may struggle with fear from his past, and has to learn to trust God that he's forgiven the things he's done before. In either situation- the teenage girl or Ivan- both are struggling with mistrust and a lack of faith, so that makes those feelings their villains. These are real struggles, so make them so real to your characters that your readers will feel it, too. If they struggle with it, they're going to have to really struggle with it- mess them up, let them fail sometimes, let them triumph, let the climax of that story be about overcoming the greatest temptation. Just don't let it be "no big deal, I'll learn sometime" that they struggle with whatever they're struggling with.
2) Should you use a bully kid or a bad example person, remember that they're human, too, and they didn't start out that way most likely. What has hurt that kid or bad example person? Why are they that way? You need to know this, and perhaps sometime your main character will discover the reason as well. Make sure there is a reason for why your bully or bad attitude teenager acts the way she/he does, and keep that in the back of your mind while you write. It will actually help for you to know what's going on, because then you can make that character act accordingly.
3) Finally, remember this- these kind of stories are just as important as the ones who have an actual physical villain. The emotions or the bully kid are, in a sense, your villain. They represent "problem", which is basically what a villain is, anyways. So write like those things are your bad guys. Understand that sometimes our greatest enemies are our own feelings, our own temptations, our own fears. They're just as scary, and can be just as twisted, as a real bad guy form.
I didn't take the time to go and find some movie/book examples for this, so I'm just going to give you a quick example from one of my own stories.
Sometimes this is a really good way of writing a story. This is my favorite way of making a reader confused and think the villain is the bad guy, and by the end of the book they realize that no, the bad guy was there to represent "badness, evil, wahahaha" whereas the real villain this whole time was Ivan's personal struggles. Distraction can be your greatest ally. So for those of you who are writing a story with a bully character or perhaps even a villain, this tactic can be very useful if your whole purpose is to change how the main character looks as him/herself.
Well folks, this is the last villain post I had planned for you. I hope you enjoyed this series and I hope you learned a lot from it. Thank you so much for reading and for the comments! I hope this helped you out!
To read the previous posted sections of this series, you can click on the links here:
The Foreboding Villain: Part One
The Foreboding Villain: Part Two
The Foreboding Villain: Part Three