Friday, June 5, 2015

The Foreboding Villain: Sometimes He Doesn't Exist...

We're back! Yay! A/N: (When you realize you refer to yourself like there's multiple versions of you... Scary. ;D)

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.


In my newest book, Ivan, there is a bad guy. But throughout the story, you keep discovering more and more about my main character, (obviously named Ivan, because that's the name of the book) this mysterious Russian man who has some dark past he hasn't shared with anyone. The farther you get into the book, the more your attention is changed from the "bad guy" to Ivan, and you realize Ivan's enemy isn't the "bad guy", it's himself. Ivan's greatest enemies are his own fears, his own memories, and his own guilt. Ivan doesn't think he can be forgiven for the things he's done in the past. He's trying to wage himself a new life that will make him feel better, he's trying to do good to offset all the bad things he's done. But he can't overcome his past, because he hasn't accepted God's forgiveness. Therefore, though I have an actual physical form of a villain, he isn't the real bad guy. The real bad guy is Ivan's own self.

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

16 comments:

  1. I really appreciated these posts. They've really been a help! Thank you so much for taking the time to write them! Although now that they're finished, I will miss them. . . B-)
    The WWII story I'm working on will has some of this "villain" in it although it will have a real, live villain as well.
    "Ivan" sounds like it'll be an amazing book!!

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    1. I'm so glad you enjoyed these posts, Jesseca, and that they were a help to you! I have to credit my older sister the artist for helping me on these- she's a fantastic story crafter and thought this would be an important series. :)
      I WANT TO KNOW ABOUT THIS BAD GUY OF YOURS! He sounds soooo evil from everything I've seen of him on pinterest. AUGH! I can't wait to read about him. ;)

      Thanks for commenting and I'm always happy to help!

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  2. I agree with Jesseca!
    Thanks for taking the time to write this series Emily, it was really helpful! :D

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    1. You're welcome, Megs! I'm glad it helped you out as well. Most of this is my personal opinion, but I based my opinion off of trends and what I've noticed.
      Anyway, thanks for commenting and I'm so glad it was helpful to you!

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  3. I really appreciated all the posts but this one especially! In my Hansen book, I have a few bad guys scattered throughout the book but a lot of the book focuses on the characters overcoming their own problems and trials. I will definitely be coming back to this post to help fix up my book :D

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    1. I actually was thinking of you and Bethany R. when I wrote this post. I've noticed both of you seem to do more of the "overcoming personal obstacles" than actual bad guys, and I wanted to make sure I included this in here so both of you would know that your type of story, "the abstract villain" is just as important as any other villain. So I'm glad this helped you out!

      Thanks for commenting!

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  4. Wow...I'll have to use these "villains" in a story sometime. Thanks for sharing your opinion. These posts have helped me so much, and I'm sure they will continue to help as I write more stories! :)

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    1. I'm so glad, Rebekah! It makes me very excited when these kind of things help other writers. I find this type of "villain" very interesting to use. Though I kind of got really dark when I used it... :P But the story ended up good, I promise! ;)

      Thanks for commenting!

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  5. Thanks for doing these, Emily! I've enjoyed it immensely. :)
    I have one similar storyline (guilt, not accepting forgiveness, etc.) but other than that I have mostly real-life villains;) 😎

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    1. You and I like are bad guys. B-) They're awesome. I am excited to see your bad guys if YOU'D HURRY UP AND SHOW THEM TO MEEEE! ;) Haha, I couldn't resist. Seriously though, let Heath live, show us your Andi story and post the rest of your Big Valley stories and I'll be happy. ;)
      I'm glad you enjoyed the series. I hope they were helpful!

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  6. I'm laughing as I read this! From where your caps lock got stuck (lol) on I can't stop laughing!
    Bad guys are the best!!!!! Okay, so they're really not...but you know what I mean:)
    Btw, there will hopefully be a new chapter on the BV story tomorrow!!;)
    They were very helpful. Thank you for doing them! 😊

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    1. Well, I like your stories! Seriously! They're good! And I want to read more... and I want to see your bad guys. B-)
      Glad the posts were helpful! I need to tell you the background story on "Free" sometime, it involves Nick Barkley and I think you will like it. :)

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  7. Thank you:) I think I'll have 'enough' done one Being Little Sister to start posting it soon.

    I'd love to hear the background story!
    By the way, I read "Stranded" and I LOVED IT!!!! Great job! I love the humor. It was perfect!!;)

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    1. Yay! I can't wait!
      I'll reply to your email soon and I'll tell you the backstory in that. I'm glad you liked Stranded. It was soooo long ago and there are sooo many typos... but I do think the humor was pretty funny. ;) I should rewrite that story sometime....

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    2. Wait. . .the backstory on Free involves Nick Barkley??? How is that possible???

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    3. It's very involved... I'll email you about it as well. :)

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Thanks for reading my blog, and I hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any comments or thoughts you'd like to share I'd love to hear from you! But do be thoughtful of others and please, no swearing or badmouthing, or I'll have to delete the comment. Thank you!