Antagonist Procrastination

I am supposed to be working on a scene with my villain today.  Instead, I’m working with a real life villain in the form of the powerpoints with video that I’m trying to make into a DVD.  I’m becoming an expert on free software for video file conversion, editing, merging, etc.  FYI, PowerPoint does not embed video.  It links to it.  If your PowerPoint file and the video you’re linking to are not in the same folder, or if both are buried in a multi folder file structure, PowerPoint gets pissy.  Just FYI.  But I’m not here to talk about PowerPoint.

Last night, when I finished revising the scene I’ve been working on all week and started blocking out the next one, Pot pointed out that rather than showing the events coming up from Marley or Conall’s perspectives, I should do it from Knox’s.  I hate that she’s right about that because I just don’t want to spend time with this guy.  It’s not because he’s sick and twisted and scary.  I can totally do sick and twisted and scary.  In fact, I prefer it to the more run of the mill, Machievellian plotting that this guy is prone to.

I’ve been trying to figure out why I’m so averse to dealing with this guy.  Seriously, all the scenes that are supposed to be in his head I’ve either abbreviated or skipped entirely.  One of my Twitter pals suggested it’s because he’s not really the villain.  I pondered that for about ten minutes, but really, nobody else fits the bill without a massive rewrite and re-envisioning of the plot.   So what is it?  Does he bore me because he’s NOT the sick, twisted, SOB that I so revel in writing?  He’s not a serial killer with a body count in the double digits, so he’s not worth my notice?

Usually I sit down and do these really detailed psychological analyses of my villains.  Because of course in the past I was writing romantic suspense and serial killers or arsonists or assasins.  I like to write the sort of villains I want to read.  Complex and interesting.  The kind of villains a lot of writers are afraid to write, either because they are scared to know that they have that sort of darkness inside them or because they simply have a poor understanding of abnormal motivation and chalk such characters up as simply being “evil” (which, FYI, is my number one pet peeve–I can’t tolerate just a simple “he’s evil and that’s why he does x, y, z”. NO!  There are always motivations.  They may not be normal or sane by our standards, but they exist and you as a writer should know them!  Stepping off soap box).  I haven’t done any of that with Knox.

Oh I’ve done his GMC chart.  I know enough of his backstory to know what’s motivating his current actions.  He’s power hungry, a dominant wolf, and he wants what he feels is rightfully his.  The old alpha just got in the way.  And then Conall goes and gets in the way.  Everybody’s in his way.  He’s very frustrated by that.  But he’s just…not meaty enough for me yet.  I don’t want my reader to be bored witih him because I seem to be.  So I need to do some more character development with him.

In the meantime, I’m off to check attempt number 4 of this video to see if it works right.

5 thoughts on “Antagonist Procrastination

  1. Sio

    Excellent advice. My current villian is so steeped in evil deeds I feel like I should shower after writing his scenes, but “evil” just seems so inadequate to describe him.

    At first I was afraid to go that deep with him, but my husband–who, although not a writer himself, sometimes gives me the most helpful advice from a reader’s standpoint–told me to go for it; he will only be believable if I go into the darkness with him. And I discovered his motivations are truly frightening and oddly seductive: power, of course; carnal pleasure, naturally; but also a twisted view of the world and how to wring from it what he wants: in the simplest terms, ultimately his motives all boil down to self-indulgence and immediate gratification, and right and wrong do not exist for him.

    That distilling to the simplest form of his character made it frighteningly easy to write him even at his most lethal.

  2. Bri

    Your posts on writing are always interesting and I’m glad to be back after a long break. Sounds like the writing is still coming strong, but I agree with you that powerpoint is the devil.

    I was glad I could find your blog again – I’ve recently moved to a new domain myself, so I’m trying to give every one a heads up. Also, this might be a [stupendously] stupid question, but what is a GMC chart and should I know what it is?

    • Kait Nolan

      Bri! Long time no see! How’s grad school going?

      GMC chart refers to a Goal, Motivation, Conflict chart and personally I think EVERY writer should know what they are. They’re incredibly useful. Debra Dixon wrote an awesome and detailed book on the subject that I have linked to on my Books on Writing page. It’s the best $20 you’ll ever spend.

  3. I just discovered your blog via Blogged and I’m like…totally hooked by just this post alone. =D

    I really like your perspective on villains; mine’s similar. Evilness for evilness’s sake is just pointless dribble.

    Personally, I like the psychology surrounding villains. What they want may seem pointless or evil to others, but they have a strong desire to get what they want for very real reasons (from their standpoint, at least, though it should be evident to the reader why they feel like they need to attain their goals). And I try to come at it from the angle of them not really being evil, per se, and that they’re merely trying to achieve their ends, like every other character. (Though, that really doesn’t stop them from doing antagonistic things…or else they wouldn’t be the antagonist.)

    I had to really dig deep into my current villain when I first started writing them. I knew their goal and I knew why it was important to the overall plot, but I had to work on their motivation. Really, as with any character, you’ve got to think of them like a real person. If they don’t feel real to you, they won’t to your readers. And, that’s really what’s helped me writing my antagonists so far.

    I’m definitely going to be watching your blog. I’m very interested to see how your antagonist ends up panning out.

    • Kait Nolan

      Hi Carrie! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂 I think one of the best pieces of advice I’ve ever heard about villains is to remember that they are the hero of their own story. And as you said, they have their own motivations. That may not be OUR motivation, but a good author should make the reader able to understand the villain’s motivation.

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