#IWSG: Hero or Villain?

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeThe Insecure Writers Support Group is a marvellous group set up by Alex Cavanagh. On the first Wednesday of every month, members post thoughts, fears or words of encouragement for fellow writers.

The link above takes you to details about the group and how to join. You’ll also find a list of bloggers signed up to the challenge – do check them out.

The awesome co-hosts for the March 6 posting of the IWSG are Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!


This month’s question – Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

I’ve only ever written from the perspective of the hero, I’ve not tried writing from the bad guy’s perspective. In my co-written piece which is told from multiple PoVs, I did suggest including our villain, but we decided that adding another voice to those of the four main characters would be one too many in what was intended to be only 26k of words (it ended up being 45k, but that’s another story!)

Why did I make that suggestion? Not because I fancied trying something new, rather that I felt it could add to the storytelling. I didn’t push it for a couple of reasons; first and foremost, as co-authors we’d fallen into the practice of going along those paths we both agreed upon, allowing sources of not immediate agreement to fall by the wayside. This was ofย  particular import as time was very much of the essence – we were writing it during the A-Z Challenge. Second, I’d previously read Marlon James’s Booker-winning “A Brief History of Seven Killings” which is quite the tale. The grim subject, casual violence and mysogny aside, I’d rated it at only 4 out of 5 stars because I felt he’d massively overused the number of PoVs and was at odds to make sure I didn’t fall into the same trap.

But, the more I think about it, the more I want to write from the villain’s perspective. Would I be able to make him truly unredeemably bad? I’m not sure. With my background in psychology, I suspect I’d be more inclined to offer up a backstory as to why he behaved in such a manner. Mind you, I imagine there would be a certain degree of fun in writing a pure out-and-out baddie, if difficult to avoid it ending up too slapstick.

Either way, I’m itching to give it a try!

How about you my fellow #IWSG-ers? If you write from the villain’s perspective – do you have any advice to give me in my new quest?


ยฉ Debra Carey, 2019

16 comments

  1. For what it’s worth, Debs I think you made the right decision to omit the villain’s pov in your A-Z ouvre. Not only would it have been distracting but you (both) drew the villain so well that it was unnecessary.

    Pure evil? No, I think it’s only needful for the villain to have a blind spot in his/her psyche which makes doing villainous things ‘normal’. “When a coster’s finished jumping on his mother / he loves to lie a-basking in the sun” syndrome. Even Blofeld liked cats! ๐Ÿ™‚

    What, to me, is more fascinating is why the hero character behaves as he does – think Sandy Arbuthnot in ‘Greenmantle’. It’s not just patriotism or a need for adventure. There’s something else that motivates him. Turn it round: what motivates your villain?

    Alan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Firstly, thank you. I’m happy we made the correct decision too, but it’s good to hear that confirmed.

    I’m delighted to see that you also feel it adds depth to all characters (both hero and villain) to understand their motivation.

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  3. Natalie, I’m attending a monthly creative writing workshop and I think it – together with the wonderful monthly questions from #IWSG – make me consider going in directions I hadn’t considered before.

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  4. Getting into a villain’s backstory seems like the way to go to me. The best villains are, in my opinions, the ones where we kind of understand why they’re doing what they’re doing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Yup, whilst it would be kind of fun to write a pure cartoon villain, it wouldn’t be in any way satisfying, would it?

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  6. That’s so cool that you worked with co-authors. I think it would be really interesting to work with a team. As for villains, I think they work best when they think they are the good guys and they have some broken, messed up reason they think what they are doing is right.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Like you, I’ve written from the POV of the protagonist but after thinking about it this month, am quite tempted to write as a really bad person – is there even such a thing? There’s surely a back story but I would have to be careful I wasn’t justifying awful actions or bad behaviour. Great question of the month I thought.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. First, I have to applaud you, Debra – or do you prefer Debs – on the size and choice of font. Makes it easier to read for the likes of me with poor eyes. Second, a well-explained and understandable choice of perspective. I find the hero/heroine POV easier.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Hi, Debra! Your thoughts on writing about a villain reminded me of Hannibal Lector. He was such a compelling antagonist, but became even more so when his horrific background was revealed. I always hope there is something redeemable, or at least understandable and sympathetic, in the worst of characters. I hope you scratch that itch!

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  10. Not a good week for Life to be gotten in the way – so apologies on my delayed response & thank you for the visit.

    Villains who think they’re the good guys are right up my street! ๐Ÿ™‚

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  11. Yup, I agree with you there – even by the high standards of #IWSG questions I’m getting used to, I think this month’s question is a great one. It’s a tricky line to tread I imagine – I hope you figure out a way to do it to your satisfaction (I hope I do too!)

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  12. Debs generally, Roland. No idea why I decided to go with my formal full name for the copyright. Only people to have called me Debra were school teachers and my parents when I was in trouble. But I also use it as my “professional” name when life coaching, so am less adverse to it than in earlier years. So whatever you prefer it fine by me really ๐Ÿ™‚

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  13. Oh crikey, I’m such a scaredy cat, I’d no idea what Hannibal Lector’s background was as I’ve avoided both books & films. But there’s no doubting that the nurture part of our personal make-up contributes significantly to who we become.

    Thanks for the wishes – as soon as I find me some time, I’ll be there!

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  14. I love writing from the villain’s point of view. “Bad” guys have more fun.

    The best advice I can give is this: “Everyone is the hero of their own story.” No one believes they’re bad–most, if not all of us, feel perfectly justified in what we do. I’m fascinated by serial killers and other deviant behaviour, and the only serial killer I’ve come across who seemed to feel true remorse was Ed Kemper, though does he regret killing his mother? I think not.

    It’s a lot easier to write complex characters when you don’t have to make someone a white knight. Everyone has at least a little bit of bad in them.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Thank you, that’s great advice. I felt it was my interest in psychology which was driving me towards understanding motivation of “bad guys” but I can see that it’s also present is your excellent advice.

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