Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Up Close With A Story Villain

Presenting the Deepening Character Workshop for SL NanoWriMo this past month got me thinking about new ways to approach developing and interviewing my villains. They’re not really bad. To paraphrase Jessica Rabbit, they’re just made that way. For instance, lets look at the basic character development I did for the villain in my novella Naughty Little Secrets, Eddie Murchison, Jr.

Eddie was a decent enough guy back in high school, but he always seemed to land in the principal’s office and the job of cleaning up Eddie’s screw-ups fell to his slightly older cousin and friend, Tyler (who happens to be the hero in my story). Eddie always felt he got a raw deal in life, because his dad was the poorer of the brothers Murchison. Although the family was tight and always helped each other when they could, Eddie didn’t like depending on the good will of his dad’s brothers in order to make it in life. 

For one thing, they always treated him like a half-witted little kid, even after he became an adult. His older cousins usually got all the girls and in a town small as Rusdale, Tennessee that’s one tiny pond for a tiny fish. He became even more reckless as he got older, determined to do things his way, and of course, this eventually landed him in jail. Instead of taking responsibility for his actions and learning from his mistakes, he shifted the blame onto others for all his troubles and ignored cause and effect, or should I say, consequences.

When he learns his cousin Tyler is back in town and bought an already successful business, an auto repair shop, he’s a little miffed and envious. Tyler has so much and Eddie doesn’t have much more than the clothes on his back. In his mind, he has a right to other people’s property, namely, Tyler’s. He also is jealous that his cousin’s only been back in town for a few months and has one of the hottest girls in town, yet no woman will give him the time of day.

Keep in mind Eddie doesn’t hate Tyler. He actually likes his older cousin, but feels for Ty to have so much and him not, is unfair and it should be given to him since he paid his dues (jail time). That covetous mindset is common among most if not all criminals. It’s also the mindset of the typical bully. 

Of course, Eddie doesn’t think what he’s doing is wrong, and once he crosses his own personal line and rationalizes it to justify his actions, well—there is no going back.

The novella Naughty Little Secrets is Stacie and Tyler’s story, not Eddie’s, but I felt that short scenes in Eddie’s POV not only helped move the story along, but also helped flesh out his character enough so that what he does in the story would be believable to readers. 

By using his POV in limited amounts, I was able to allow readers to see into Eddie’s mind, lay bare his weaknesses, and all his rationalizing. At the end of the story, my hope is you’ll despise Eddie, but a tiny part of you will also feel a touch of pity for a man lost in his own illusions, with nothing and no where to go.

The challenge of writing contemporary romance always throws out curve balls—at least to me. I finished writing the first draft in June last year, then let it simmer for a while as I played with Open Season (a 16K BDSM with Dragons). When I came back to NSL (Naughty Little Secrets) I realized it needed several revisions and changes to the story to correct a plot hole I’d missed. My original plan called for the story to be released mid-August, but nothing ever goes as planned and it helps I try to stay flexible, because a ton of things happened that couldn’t be avoided, or as my Kentucky daddy used to say, “The shit hit the fan and the wall.”

Which is why I’ve been struggling to finish edits and revisions on a fifth draft of this story. Every time I write a contemporary this happens to me. I seem to attract crap and hit brick walls the minute I outline a story without any paranormal elements. lol. Or that could be paranoia talking. But whatever the case, my latest goal is to release this monster (not a reference to size, but sheer frustration, lol) before this year is out, so help me blank! (Pick a deity of your choosing).

That said, I’d like to introduce Eddie, my villain of the month. :p

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