Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Vicious Villains & Other Nasties

Tasmanian Devils
Although these short tempered nasties wouldn't normally attack humans they'd just as soon chomp off your arm if you were weakened and lying wounded in the Tasmanian wilderness. Like any villain worth his salt, once sensing a weakness they'd hone in for the kill.

So how about the villains we write about? Do they always have to be like the moustache (English sp.) twirling villains out to do a mischief to the heroines that our grandmothers loathed? Well hardly. We're so much more sophisticated today ... in some ways. No, we expect much more of our antagonists. Maybe something that happened in their childhood twisted their outlook in life. Maybe it's a mental problem. Maybe they suffer from gall stones, halitosis, or sport a hooked nose causing others to shun them.

Seriously though whatever the case, we want to delve into our compassion and put our empathy to good use. Sure, they can be absolutely ruthless, but we want to know what made them that way, don't we? In other words, the baddy can't be all bad, can he? Shouldn't we be able to find a little bit of good in there somewhere? A tad of saving grace? The hope that he or she will repent in the end?

The strange thing is this, an antagonist does not have to be a person. We're supposed to have a plot with our protagonists hindered at every turn. Something that will halt them in reaching their goal. I normally like to have a real meanie, oh dear, so often a frustrated woman. But in the third book of my historical trilogy my nasty had to be something other than human to carry the plot all the way through.  At first I thought I was missing something, because although I have one particularly mean-spirited person in my story, I realized it was something else entirely. A long-entrenched system worked well in keeping my hero and heroine from ever crossing that certain line. I wonder if you can figure out what it was?

The protagonist can battle the elements for the whole of  the story. Think of Tom Hanks cast away on that deserted island. It can be a perverted belief system that keep the protagonists apart. It can also be a loved
one who strives to keep their beloved from doing the right thing.
My cuddly heroine Wilma Wombat
Think of High Noon when Gary Cooper not only has to face the
villains because he is the sheriff, but he has to struggle with the fact
his wife has left him because of this. Maybe our police detective
hero will lose custody of his children if he continually dogs the
tracks of a criminal. Oh, there's a multitude of reasons why our
 main character/s has to deal with something that helps push our
 story to its climax. Maybe you can suggest a few more!

* With two books published, a third on the way and two
 more with Hartline agency, Rita Stella Galieh enjoys life
 with her husband of almost 52 years. A short trip to 
hospital is imminent, with a partially blocked artery to be
dealt with, then she can return to doing what she really 
loves. Her weekly blog,  
http://inspirationalromance.blogspot.com is needing some
 input from you dear folk, if you'd like to share your story
 with her. Her contact email is 
ritagal  @  optusnet  dot  com  dot  au. 


  1. Hi Rita,
    I'm nice :-) so I have a hard time creating villains. One old time author who was a master at it was Tayler Caldwell. Her bad guys were truly scary and nearly always demanded sacrifice from many good men to overcome the evil.
    P.S. hope your surgery goes well.

  2. Good thoughts, Rita. You are right in that it is very important to have a backstory for our villain just as we do for our h/h so they can come to life.

    Praying your surgery goes well!


  3. Prayers for your surgery Rita. So true about knowing motivations for our villains. Glad you showed our friends overseas the cute wombat as well as the Tassie devils.