Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Wed, May 09 2018

Outliving a villain

Villain, nemesis, rival. Whatever you choose to call them, they are the other side of hero or protagonist in a story. A villain is what makes a story more challenging to tell and a lot more satisfying to read. Many religions are based on good and evil doing battle. Having a villain is what makes a prize a little sweeter.

Sometimes the hero and the villain are battling within the same body or mind. It might be over health, demon possession, opposing desires or moral failings and victories. It's there, hovering, no matter what else goes on in a story. A being who represents this struggle makes a read hit home more because we've all experienced someone else who didn't like us or wanted to fight us or just plain hated us. Worse yet, someone might have ignored us completely and so became a sort of enemy by default.

It's important to make villains seem as personal as possible for the reader. If the villain dies in the first chapter there must be a way for that villain to still have a hold on our hero throughout the story. If the villain dies after some epic battle later in the tale, there is often some hint that the villain has influence or power that could possibly rise in some form to once again torment our hero. Think of a last scene in which the giant monster queen lies cold and still, but then we see one of her eggs beginning to shake and crack and glow with the new life inside it.

Do you want the hero to outlive the villain completely? If so, be careful. You might be ruling out a sequel down the line. Or you might have a hero who has run his or her course in life and is no longer interesting.

You, the writer, must outlive the villain in order to keep producing stories. The stories must be universal in scope if you want us to keep coming back for more.

They say the best revenge is living well. In order to do that, first you must live. Live, and keep writing.

posted at: 10:57 | category: /Writing Life | link to this entry

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Stealin' copy is as bad as horse-thievin'
and cattle rustlin'! Lightning may strike
such varmints when they least expect it!