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A wretched hive of scum and....

I have had some issues with my new story that have made my work on it...intermittent over the past two years. One of the biggest hurdles has been I don't like my antagonists. Somehow, they have become paranoid minute-men taking potshots at invisible spirit-folk they fear just out of fear of what is unknown/out of their control, and no matter how justified I tried to make my antagonists (there really *are* some bad spirit-folk out there!), or personal their motivations ("I saw my own bruthah kilt by one of them!!1!") they still seem horribly boring to me.

It's like I just need there to be bad guys for my good guys to fight, and so I have set up these prop bad-guys, but I don't care about them. And you know that will mean the reader won't care about them, either.

Honestly, my story is going to turn into a Disney movie with a general "Ignorance leads to fear, fear leads to the dark side!" moral.

So I try to take a cue from other writers, say, oh, Joss, and make my villains personal ("my heroine falls in love with a guy who is one of the antagonists and starts to see his point of view...whatever that is....")

But I still...can't get myself...to care about these people. They're still props.

Comments

( 39 comments — Leave a comment )
ponygirl2000
Nov. 5th, 2010 01:23 pm (UTC)
Use the time-honoured writer's method and steal! Take the things you've liked best from villains you've seen or read and give them to your baddies. Take the things you like best about heroes you've read or seen and give them to the baddies. Take the stuff you like best in yourself - whatever it takes to make them interesting to you. Motivation and justification can come after, in fact they can flow from trying to understand why someone you would normally root for has gone off the rails. Find the cool factor.
masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 01:29 pm (UTC)
I've been thinking about villains in stories I like a lot. Like Annikan Skywalker. Does anything he does *really* make sense, besides the fact that he's kind of always been a fascist-leaning person all along?

And the band of rogue Watchers in Highlander are just the sort of knee-jerk paranoids I'm trying to avoid.

Most of the villains in stories I've really liked have been after the heroes because the heroes have magical powers they think they can use for their own greed and ambition, or they are bumbling government types who have to go after the supernatural heroes for National Security.

They're all just as two-dimensional as my bad guys. But I never noticed before because I was so busy being self-righteously justified in the hero's POV.
ponygirl2000
Nov. 5th, 2010 01:37 pm (UTC)
I don't know if you need to make villains make sense or even be that complex, just as long as they're interesting. Readers can create complexity in their heads (look at all the Draco fanfiction!) by trying to figure out why they have that interest.
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Nov. 5th, 2010 01:47 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - ponygirl2000 - Nov. 5th, 2010 02:40 pm (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - ponygirl2000 - Nov. 5th, 2010 07:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
mamculuna
Nov. 5th, 2010 01:58 pm (UTC)
I once tried writing a letter from a bad guy to help me get into his head and see what made him run. I think it helped.
masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:03 pm (UTC)
I suppose that depends on who the letter is to. But see, I'm still stuck in my antagonist having these broad political motivations. "We must protect ourselves from the invisible invaders! OmG!" And if I wrote a letter, that's what he'd say. And that sort of villain is just uninteresting to me. I need to give him a different motivation, one I could even believe in, one that doesn't make some broad metaphorical social statement that I have no passion for. And I just don't know what that could be, yet.
mamculuna
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:06 pm (UTC)
Create a childhood for him? I'm just thinking of things I've done--often when I start writing about a character in a different situation, I think of new sides of them. What could make a person be like that?
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Nov. 5th, 2010 02:18 pm (UTC) - Expand
rahirah
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:26 pm (UTC)
Have you considered ditching the bad guys, and taking some of your good guys and setting them at odds with your other good guys instead?
masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:36 pm (UTC)
I actually made my bad guys into good guys for about a year out of the past two years. Instead of "demon-fighters" I made them more like "ghost-hunters" seeking evidence of the supernatural instead of trying to fight it. But that didn't make them particularly villainy, necessarily, so I gave one of them a dark motive of vengeance for his brother's death, and after a while, I was bored of those guys, too. And now I'm right back where I was before.
cornerofmadness
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:49 pm (UTC)
yes I can see that frustration. I HAVE that frustration. I suck at making good and believeable villians
masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 02:57 pm (UTC)
It's really pulling my story down. And I think it has been all this time, for two years. I just can't think my way out of the box.
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Nov. 5th, 2010 06:21 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Nov. 5th, 2010 07:12 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Nov. 6th, 2010 01:42 am (UTC) - Expand
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(no subject) - cornerofmadness - Nov. 6th, 2010 02:28 am (UTC) - Expand
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masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
But they bore me. Which makes me not want to write them. And therein lies the problem.
(no subject) - cactuswatcher - Nov. 5th, 2010 03:06 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - masqthephlsphr - Nov. 5th, 2010 03:07 pm (UTC) - Expand
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cactuswatcher
Nov. 5th, 2010 03:04 pm (UTC)
If they are props, let them be props. Don't try to dig too much out of them. Like Draco Malfoy, who you mentioned above, let 'em be cardboard and the readers can fill them out to their hearts desire. It's hard enough to write good characters that aren't boring without worrying about the villains.
spiletta42
Nov. 5th, 2010 03:10 pm (UTC)
I am having the exact same problems with a fanfic I wrote. Every time I sit down to edit it, I hate the cardboardiness of the antagonist so much that I get completely frustrated and throw it aside again. I can't even figure out how to fix it. And I promised this thing to someone in, like, June.
masqthephlsphr
Nov. 5th, 2010 03:56 pm (UTC)
I'm assuming that's last June, LOL.
(no subject) - spiletta42 - Nov. 5th, 2010 07:50 pm (UTC) - Expand
( 39 comments — Leave a comment )