Monday, February 14, 2011

Part XI Suspense - Creating A Villain

A “bad guy” appears in all suspense, mystery and thriller novels. He can be focused on one individual, a series of individuals, the country or the world. The villain, as you know, must have redeeming qualities as well as evil attributes, and often he can hid beneath another persona and is not suspected. If the story introduces a character who seems evil, sinister or suspicious, you can almost bet he’s not the villain.

To create an edge-of-the-seat suspense, the author spends much time crafting the villain. A villain must be a worthy opponent. This has been covered in other articles on this blog, but it is worth reminding. The villain needs to be cunning, amoral or believes he has the right, and dangerous.

He must have valid motivation for his desired crime or continuing crime, such as: revenge, righting a wrong, protecting his possessions or loved ones, vindicating an action he believes went unpunished. He must have the opportunity to have committed the crime, and the appearance of innocence. This is why sometimes the protagonist becomes a suspect. He can be the charming insurance man or the kindly crossing guard. He can hid beneath his role in the story while the author provides only hints of information that can be put together like a puzzle to help tilt the protagonist in the right direction. The villain can be involved in the characters lives and appears innocent, but in some types of suspense, the villain can be known to the reader and unknown to the protagonist. Yet creating the villain follows the same procedure.

Killers can use many methods of committing murder. Select an appropriate method of perpetrating the crime (the modus operandi) that fits your character. Provide the villain with the kind of knowledge, know-how, strength and ability to be successful. Make his choice plausible. If he poisons someone, how would he know the poison will work? What career or opportunity would he have to steal or purchase what he needed? The old movie and play Arsenic and Old Lace is the story of two elderly women who poison lonely men with elderberry wine and bury them in the basement with their mentally-handicapped brother’s help.

Villains can be diabolical or as sweet as the two sisters in Arsenic and Old Lace, but make them real by providing them with realistic motivation, ability equal or greater than the protagonist, and a credible modus operandi to fit their physical and mental ability.

About Me

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Multi-award-winning author, Gail Gaymer Martin writes Christian fiction for Steeple Hill and Barbour Publishing. She has forty-seven contracted novels with over three million books in print. Gail is the author of Writers Digiest’s Writing the Christian Romance. Gail is a co-founder of American Christian Fiction Writers, a keynote speaker at churches, libraries and civic organizations  and presents workshops at conference across the US. Gail live in the Detroit area.

Writing the Christian RomanceGroom in Training (Love Inspired)Dad in Training (Thorndike Press Large Print Christian Fiction)Bride in Training (Love Inspired)In His Dreams (Michigan Island, Book 3) (Love Inspired #407)Loving Treasures (Loving Series #1) (Love Inspired #177)Loving Hearts (Loving Series #2) (Love Inspired #199)In His Eyes (Michigan Island, Book 1) (Love Inspired #361)Family in His Heart (Michigan Island, Book 4) (Love Inspired #427)Loving Care (Loving Series #4) (Love Inspired #239)Through The Eyes Of A ChildLoving Ways (Loving Series #3) (Love Inspired #231)The Christmas Kite (Steeple Hill Women's Fiction #2)Loving Feelings (Loving Series #6) (Love Inspired #303)And Baby Makes Five (Monterey Peninsula Series #1) (Heartsong Presents #770) 

A Dad Of His Own - Coming March 2011
Dad In Training, Groom in Training, Bride in Training - Steeple Hill Love Inspired
Monterey Memories - Barbour Publishing
Writing The Christian Romance - Writers Digest 

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