Thursday, January 13, 2011

A villain, a villain, my kingdom for a villain!

How can you create a villain character and develop him fully if you are writing in first person? This question came up on another site not too long ago and some of the answers that were given were really interesting and worth a mention once again.

I write in first person, ninety-five percent of the time. It is very hard for the reader to visualize a villain that is not in the same scene as the main character because in first person the reader only knows what the character knows (also sees, hears etc.), but it CAN be done.

Some of the ways are through the eyes of a third person. You can learn a lot from the opinion of others (wink).

Say you have a woman who is being mean to another. What better way to find out what her deal is than to engage in conversation with the guy she’s recently dumped? Oh man, he could tell you a thing or two!

Or perhaps your main character is trying to solve a murder, so he is going around asking questions about the victim. Clue-gathering, eh? He is very likely going to hear about the villain sooner or later. Why? Because that person is at the bottom of it all! Someone has something to tell your main character because not every one is honorable and sometimes characters, even minor ones, turn out to be meanies.

So… that is my thought on this subject.

What other ways can someone convey the details of the villain character if they are writing in first person and the villain remains tucked off-screen?


Marilynn Byerly said...

The reader can learn a great deal about the villain by what and how he does it. Is he meticulous in his murder method? Does he use surgical skill or does he simply hack the hands off his victims with a blunt weapon? Etc., etc.

Even if you write amateur detectives, a program like CRIMINAL MINDS and researching profilers are certainly useful because they explain so much about the bad guy by studying his crime.

Aaron Paul Lazar said...

Hi, Kim! I decided to try the James Patterson method of switching from third (main protag) to "Killer" POV within the book. It took some getting used to, and I know it isn't considered "kosher" by many, but it was fun to try. You know almost all of my books (except Moore Mysteries) are first person, so I always had to wangle info out of Gus's local cop friend, Joe Russell, or his very nosy and knowledgeable family friend, Oscar Stone. ;o) I still prefer the first person over all POVs - it feels right! Thanks for a great topic today!

Marta Stephens said...

I think the POV very much depends on the type of plot. My Harper novels are written in 3rd limited. I love getting inside my protag's head as well as the villain's.

I tried writing one of the books in 1st and the story just didn't have the same impact. My third book (non-Harper)is in first person and although I think it's okay, I've often wondered how much better it would be if I could take the reader inside the bad guy's head.