Saturday, June 2, 2012
Why Basement Cat is a Pastry Thief
So, I have my own personal Basement Cat. His name is Pyewacket. Let's all admire his cuteness. Tell me, does this look like the face of evil? True, he's napping. Hey, stealing souls is hard work, but still...I'll let you decide.
From his point of view, this is totally reasonable. A recently vacated seat is warm. Mmmm. Warm. Toilet paper makes an awesome toy. Why else would you be selfish and keep it all locked away in the bathroom. You hang it up off the ground like it's something special and oh, it is special. Yes, it is. It's the most fun, shreddable toy evah! And pastry? So, most cats like meat and cheese. Basement Cat likes those too, but nothing compares with sugary goodness. Donuts? Cupcakes? What's not to like? Once again, you are are selfish not to share your baked goods with Basement Cat. Of course they aren't good for him. They aren't good for you either, buddy boy. If you would just share, he wouldn't be forced to steal, but you deny him, taunt him by eating things in front of him. Can he help it if you leave tempting treats within paws reach? You made him a thief.
See? Totally reasonable from his point of view. Who could hate a little Basement Kitty just trying to get stuff for himself?
This is why Basement Cat makes the perfect villain.
He isn't evil and doesn't have crazy plans for world domination. To him, his actions seem logical, necessary. He wants things which have been denied him and will employ any means necessary to achieve them. Valuable insight for authors there.
What can we take and use in our writing? Treat your villain/antagonist just as you treat your hero/heroine/main characters. He's real. He lives, loves, cries, hurts. He wants stuff. What does your villain want? What will he do to acheive it? How does he see himself? I guarantee that no one is the villain of their own story. He may do things he know are wrong because the end justifies the means. He may not think there is anything wrong with his actions.
Villains don't exist in a vacuum. Real people are complex beings. They have lives outside the obvious. If your villain's sole purpose in life is to destroy your hero, you had better give me a damn compelling reason for it or I shall mock you severely and with extreme prejudice. Real life villains have hobbies. Adolf Hitler was an artist. He was also fascinated with the occult. He was devoted to his lady love. After WWI, Germany was in a severe financial depression. They had lost large portions of territory including some very valuable ones. They were getting kicked around politically. Hitler was going to do something about that. Millions died. It isn't enough just to say that your villain is a pastry theif who wants to rule the world. Show the reader why.
So, that's what I'm looking for in a good villain. Literature and yes, okay, movies and TV are full of some darn compelling villains as well as some, um, not so compelling. Personally, I'm a Darth Vader gal. The whole Star Wars series couldn't exist without him. Really, it's his story, starting with Anakin as a nine year old slave, tracing his rise to power and fame as a jedi, his seduction to the dark side and ending with his death at the hands of his own son. Now that's a villain, y'all.
So tell me who is your favorite villain and why. I just love a good villain story.