Friday, August 25, 2006

When the villain turns your head

On the weekend over at Word Wenches, Loretta Chase sparked a lively discussion about villains and how some have a knack of turning up in subsequent books playing the lovestruck hero. I was too late to reply to her post—getting paid to write nonfiction all day long has really put a dent in my blog surfing, not to mention my creative writing time—but I'm curious to hear whether other writers have had an experience similar to mine.

Many years ago I set out to write a story wherein the heroine is pursued by two beaux: one a blond, blue-eyed beta male with a heart of gold; the other a dark, sinister alpha male driven to possess, conquer, and pillage if not rape. Naturally, beta boy was expected to win the buxom bride. But a startling thing happened. The scenes featuring the villain of the piece proved the choicest bits by far: the dialogue sparkled, the man showed far more wit and spunk than his pale adversary, and the heroine's heart (not to mention her nether regions) gradually softened. To top it all off, Mr. Alpha Male then began to demonstrate a vulnerable side, ever so slowly, by degrees. He won us over. Both of us, heroine and author both.

That novel has been rewritten. No trace of the blue-eyed boy remains. It's all about dark, silvery-eyed Montgomery and his conquest of his lady love.

Now, tell me, has this experience ever befallen you? Has a character so completely taken over the story that he/she transformed it before your very eyes? (And, I wonder, is that a good thing? Who is the master of the piece, after all?)



Blogger Tempest Knight said...

Sometimes we think of villains in the old term - bad guys. But in order to keep them so, we have to keep them unidimensional. Nowadays the so-called "villains" are more tridimensionals. And therefore, they can be quite fascinating to write because they can thread that line between good and evil. Good guys are always good, they can do no wrong. Spell boring? So villains can become interesting characters. If they're not truly evil, then they can become larger than life in our stories and take over.

2:55 pm  
Blogger Stacy Dawn said...

I'm of the eternal "everyone has some good in them somewhere" so I can easily see how a villian can be redeemed...eventually. It's even juicier because you never know if they will stay good or turn away from the right and go back to their bad ways.

2:03 am  
Blogger India said...

One of the main ingredients for a really gripping romance has got to be that space for misunderstanding. There's nothing better than a hero who appears to be behaving inexcusably badly, so that you fall in love with him but it's completely against your better judgement. And then, of course, later you discover that you were wrong...

Montgomery is that man. ((sigh...))

9:28 am  
Blogger Brown said...

I would have to agree. There are a lot of movies and books that I read, where I end up rooting for the bad guy because he's so damn sexy, witty...whereas the good guy is SO good, I can't identify with them. I suppose I'm the opposite of Stacy Dawn, I think everyone has some bad in them and I like characters who conquer that side of them or learn how to use the darker side for the better good...League of Extrodinary Gentleman wasn't the best movie ever, but I liked the way they handled Hyde and Dorian...mmm, especially Dorain. He was ever so yummy and I kept hoping he would prove his worth...or even the HP series...I love Snape - well, I love Alan Rickman, so...but I love that Rowling always has you guessing about his true colours...

7:21 pm  
Blogger Eva said...

It's reassuring to discover I'm not the only one with a soft spot for the bad boy!

1:22 am  
Blogger Liz Fielding said...

It comes down down to conflict. Good guy, no conflict. Bad guy ... oh, yes!

8:23 am  

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