The baddie has to be just as developed as your good guy or gal. They require good and bad points and a way for your reader to identify with them.
Yes, readers do need to have some sort of love for your villain. I’ve skimmed through loads of books when the villain is on stage, because they just don’t appear real.
They need some good motivation for being evil. Did they lose the girl to their best friend? Did their best friend bully them and now they are getting their own back? Were they abused as a child and that’s all they know? Got into the wrong crowd? There are lots of reasons.
Add in a description. Give your readers a way of imaging them. Maybe not a full description but enough to wet their taste buds.
Give them the past your have come up with. Not all in one go – all that narrative can turn a reader off, but in bits and bobs where required. Have they abducted someone? Add in some memories why. Have they killed someone? Again, get some thoughts running through their heads. A person rarely kills without something in his mind.
You might even give them a love interest.
Above all else, most baddies I come across have something in common with the hero. A shared past or partner. Same upbringing – hero comes out better then them. There’s the jealousy.
In a twist, you might start with a hero who turns evil. Or the villain becomes the good guy. Play around and give your readers a hook.
Most baddies aren’t stupid. They are more clever than anyone takes them for. That’s why they get away with things. They make your hero look good.
So, go and plan out your bad guy or gal. Make them lovable. Make them cry out for attention. Give them a backstory your readers are dying for.
At first we were threatened by SARS, followed by swine flu, Bird flu, Australian flu, and a forgotten case of rabbit flu. But they were wrong.
Next, came climate change. Earthquakes, hurricanes, storms. But we survived all the world through at us. Humans were the mighty and we’d not be taken down.
As time continued we grew lax. So lax we failed to spot the real threat. And now we are dropping like flies. Feet stuck in the air as we buzz around on our backs. Wings useless as we fail to take back our airspace. Humiliating, to say the least.
They told us not too worry. After all, we’d laugh in the face of another flu bug.
However, our laughter became drowned out by the virus chuckling louder. The pitch increasing with every death the bug claimed.
Our numbers dwindled by the hour. The hospitals filled. School halls lost the sound of children running to classes. Football stadiums and other sports hall stood bare.
They told us to wash our hands. To sing happy birthday twice. We did. Food supplies were fought over. Why? No one comprehended the true reason.
All muttered the same thing. ‘Get over it. It’s just the flu.’
Then disaster struck. No one noticed until one young man went shopping. One item on his list. Returning home he hung his head as his wife screamed and shouted. ‘One thing! I asked for one thing!’
The same item caused couples to split. And one marriage ended in divorce. Throughout history…The plague, The Fire of London, The Spanish Inquisition …did not one thing cause so much trouble.
But in the year 2020, the outlook appeared bleak. Corvid 19 managed the one thing no other virus managed.
Yes, our lives were over. How could we continue to live? We sat depressed as we stared at the walls while stuck in quarantine. All feared to visit one particular room.
Some considered suicide as an option.
One room became more terrifying than the virus wiping us out. All over one item not being available.
You see. The shelves in every supermarket were empty.
This can be the bain of a new writer’s life. Show verses tell. What is it? How does it affect our writing?
Let’s examine this more closely. A book which tells the reader everything can be to the point and doesn’t leave the reader with much to imagine. The telling can slow down the pace, making the plot slow and boring in some cases.
A book which shows gives the reader a reason to continue reading. They can imagine every scene and relive it in their head. The plot and characters become real to them, to the degree they fall in love with them.
So, how does this work, I hear you ask. Easy, think about everything you are writing. I’ve read lots of books where the character mumbles, mutters, shouts, gets frustrated, angry, happy – great, they need too. However, these words are redundant in writing. Yes, on occasion I use them but as a beat and not a dialogue tag. The way you write should bring these emotions out.
Examples – I can do loads if you want.
Happiness. Okay, every character at some point is happy. Below is two version of describing a happy person.
“Oh, my god, I love it.” As Sarah glanced at the ring her happiness shone around her.
“Oh, my god, I love it.” The ring glistened in the morning light. As Sarah’s chest filled with a heat, her eyes danced as she held out her left hand which tingled as he slipped the ring in place.
Now, the dialogue indicates shes happy at what just happened. Therefore the beat in number 1 isn’t required. Instead, number 2 shows us how she’s feeling. You can see in your mind how happy she is as he proposes. It’s like you are there in person witnessing the event.
But what if she said no?
“But I can’t marry you.” The ring should have made her happy. Instead, Sarah shook her head as she let the sadness in.
“But I can’t marry you.” The words were forced out as Sarah’s throat constricted. Turning her back on him, she crossed her arms, slumped her shoulders, and lowered her head.
Again, number 2 gives you an image in your mind. You can almost feel her heartbreak and are left wondering why she said no.
Now, showing isn’t hard. No, it’s not – don’t argue back. There’s an easy way to figure out the emotional response you want. Yes, it is. Stop arguing back and I’ll tell you. All you need to do is put yourself in your characters shoes – yes, they fit, and imagine how you’d feel.
Which brings us to another fact. A rather important one. If you feel nothing when you write, your readers will have the same response. It’s a well known fact that adding your own emotions makes the book. So, those funeral scenes, death scenes – I always cry when I write them. Weddings, engagements – I feel the joy. When I add any funny moments – I have to laugh. If I don’t, they go. And it’s not just once. Every time I read the manuscript through, those emotions return. The last paragraph in my Fareious three book is a happy ending. I’ve read it several times and every time my eyes water. I won’t say why. But this is the exact response you want from your readers.
If an author doesn’t feel this when writing it does show in the book. I’ve read a lot of books by new and well-known authors. I find both types which have that missing oomph. And the ones that aren’t up to scratch? Are the ones who tell. I have no image to go with what’s happening. Nothing to give me those emotional responses. The characters do nothing to make me love them.
Right, now go and do some writing. But remember. Show not tell, is one of the best things you can do. And if you want exercises to do – I’m happy to send you a few. Just contact me. In fact, I might do a few more blogs on the different types of emotions. Any interest?