Dude Looks Like a Lady

Personal Note: Yeah, it's a weird title, but it suits this PN . . . and I like Aerosmith. Okay, so if you don't know this, I refer to my closest beta readers as "My Ladies", because all of them are female. But! I do have male betas. Some of them are even man enough to be a Lady. Hence . . . well, you get it. So, for my babe-alicious boy betas, come on, rock out your frou-frou coffee and get with us. Some of us are even single. *waggles eyebrows suggestively toward Bri*

Also, special note. Kathleen Ortiz is being extremely gracious and hosting a contest: winner gets a Red Marker Deluxe go-over of his or her query letter, which is nothing to look in the mouth. Have a mosey over to Neverending Page Turner, and when you comment, tell her I sent you.

I feel--and this is an entirely arguable point--there are basically three main sorts of realistic bad guys in the realm of, well, anywhere really, but for the purposes of today, we're going with literature. Yes, generally all villains are tagged by their directly opposing the goals of the hero or heroine, but there's a lot to be said in there, and when writing a villain an author has to decide just what sort of animal she's working with, which species is best to set against her conquering hero. Yes, the antagonist can be any subset or combination of the three main types, but here's how I (disclaimer: usually) break down a a rival in any story I come across:

  1. The Sympathetic Villain Yeah, many a romance novel can tell you, just as a hero can be "anti", a villain can have a little somethin' somethin' going for him to make us see where he's coming from. Either he lost the love of his life back in the day, or he really truly believes the hero is in the wrong (although the reader knows this to be untrue), but for whatever reason some little part of us feels bad for this bad guy. It's possible this madman is charming, beautiful, charismatic, or thrilling. Maybe we even kind of-just a little bit-want him to get his way. We definitely hope there's justice for him, too, in the end. Example: Jareth the Goblin King in Labyrinth.
  2. The Unintentional Villain This dude just had the bad luck to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. He's not very smart, or attractive, or anything, really. He's usually at a loss, and if he does manage to cause trouble, it's almsost certainly accidental, something that just worked to his advantage, even if he didn't plan it out. He may have been the main henchman to someone with some real E-VILE potential at one point, but Master got blown out of the water somewhere along the way, leaving Igor flailing in his wake, trying to figure out how to get things done. And totally bombing. Example: Wormtail in the Harry Potter series.
  3. The Irredeemable Villain We hate this guy from the get go, and for good reason. We know there isn't a 'good' bone in his body. He's creative, cruel, and unrelenting. He will crush the heroine like the insignifcant bug she is, body, spirit and mind. He would sell his mother to Satan to attain his goals, but not his own soul because he believes himself far too important to let a little thing like Hell impede his plans. Even when he has assured himself the heroine is no longer a threat, he'll still continue to torture her for ever daring to oppose him. It isn't good enough for him to win, he must win AND ruin life for everyone else. Example: Capricorn in Cornelia Funke's Inkheart series, and since he's so fresh in my mind, President Snow in Collins's Hunger Games series.

And there's that. These opinions are brought to you by adjustments to my own Big Baddie, Horace Huckleby, now that I know what his real damage is. He's still a disgusting little toad, true, but now he's a disgusting little toad of a different color.


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