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.

Very innocent, right? Couldn't be evil. Now here he is rolling around on the floor.
Still, not evil. But in truth, this is the face of a thief. He steals many things besides souls. He takes your seat if you get up. He takes your roll of toilet paper if you don't close the bathroom door. Worst of all, he steals your pastries.

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.


  1. Ref: To him, his actions seem logical, necessary. He wants things which have been denied him and will employ any means necessary to achieve them.

    This is the best analysis I've ever read for a villain.

    I don't think Pyewacket is too cute, and therein lies the genius of his evilness. LOL. You can't stay mad at him.

  2. When I was a kid, we had an all black kitty named Pyewacket as well. He would sit on the front steps and hiss at us and swipe at our ankles if we tried to get into the house. Clearly basement cat material all the way. :D

    I've always thought villains were far more interesting than heroes, because no one is 100% evil all the time, and in some cases, may even be good guys despite their little **ahem** issues. Snape from Harry Potter is probably my favorite because of this.

  3. @Maria: Basement cat is indeed quite cuddly. He's the true evil genius. You just want to scritch his chin while he steals your food.

    @Kim: Snape is a perfect example. I love, love Snape. He did some terrible things, yet we cried when he died. Did anyone mourn Voldemort? I don't think so. Maybe Bellatrix.

  4. Great post and great analysis for a villain - in fact it's made me have a think about the villain in my writing.

    Totally agree on the Snape example given above.