Plotting for Villains
Posted on May 19th, 2012

Wow. So I think I’m really digging villains and their crazy plots for world domination, power, riches, and/or anarchy. While some would say that being bad is so much easier than being good, I would say it takes considerable work to be bad. There are of course your stupid criminals, but rarely do we watch or read stories that involve stupid villains. If our heroes are smart, brave, strong, or superhuman they must need a villain either equal to their abilities or one that contradicts their abilities. My first thought goes to Superman and Lex Luthor. Superman is the super-human All-American moral hero that sees good and bad as black and white. Lex Luthor, on the other hand, lacks super-human abilities, but is able to rival Superman with his massive intellect and planning, not to mention seeing the world from a realist point of view knowing that there are many shades of grey between good and evil—often manipulating them to further his plans or escape.

With my current project I had already established the general plot for my story and main characters (heroes) and how they would inevitably win the day as we like our heroes to do. What has seemed vague though, has been all of the intricate details of the villains’ (yes, more than one) plots and schemes. How did they get to this point of seeking a way to win their own glory, power, and domination? How have they planned everything to possibly succeed, as well as betray each other (as all villains are prone to doing, since villainy is a solo sport at its core)? For the hero he or she is most often dropped into the plot using only their moral compass or motivation for good to thwart the villain. There is no planning, scheming, or preparing. A conflict arises and so does a hero. Of course there are the intelligent heroes such as Sherlock Holmes, Batman,  and Robert Langdon (Dan Brown’s DaVinci Code), but even they only plot, plan, prepare and think after a problem arises—most of the time having better things to do or are involved in foiling another plot elsewhere. For villains, their job, passion, hobby is to plot and scheme—after all, careful planning is the way to success.

All this to say, that as readers and viewers, we rarely see the work put in by the villain to establish their villainous plots, because our main concern is with the hero and his or her quest. Will they succeed? Will they outsmart the villain? Can they stop the seemingly inevitable? As consumers of these adventures that’s all we need, but as a writer I’ve come to appreciate the work of creating these villains and their plots even if all the juicy, diabolical details never reach the page unless through some cliché monologue in which the villain, arrogantly shows his hand before being surprisingly defeated by the hero.  Something I don’t really plan on doing unless it makes sense for the character to do so.

Posted in Creative Writing, Steampunk, Writing    Tagged with Writing, Plotting, Villains


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