Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Villians-- Don't ya just love to hate 'em

The “bad boy,” the “evil” one, the “guy in the black hat,” um-hum, the one that you had a crush on in high school - admit it. He wasn’t so much evil and a would-be scoundrel as just a handsome devil who rode a Harley and didn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else thought. The one at my high school talked me into riding on the back of that Harley and got me a week’s restriction – so worth it!

Of course, that is just the naïve young girl thinking she really knew “bad.” No way!!

Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines villain as "a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes an important evil agency in the plot.”

From fairy tales to comics to movies, we grew up becoming acquainted with villains—both male and female:

The Big Bad Wolf
The Joker
The Evil Stepsisters
The Wicked Witch of the West (Margaret Hamilton was perfect!)
A mirror – “Mirror, mirror on the wall . . . “
And even The Butler , as in “The Butler did it.”

We’ve seen grown men tremble at the thought of meeting Glen Close in Fatal Attraction.
We’ve all trembled at Kathy Bates in Misery. We let Jaws keep us out of the ocean.
At the same time, we have fought our attractions to the bad boys. Wasn’t Cary Grant just a tiny bit sinister in Suspicion? And wasn’t Daniel Cleaver just a little too naughty for Bridget Jones?

Who would have suspected, “Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again.” would have the wicked Mrs. Danvers? But how could it not? Moriarity was always a thorn in the side of Sherlock Holmes. And we constantly hear someone using the term: He’s a real Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

You just loved to hate Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men.
You just plain hated Anthony Hopkins in Silence of the Lambs.
And all Harry Potter lovers could just spit on Voldemort. Remember, “ . . . never split your soul into Horcruxes.” Good advice.

Some of the early romances had villain/hero/villain/heartthrob all rolled up into one. Mr. Rochester in Jane Eyre certainly pushed the envelope of what was considered an acceptable love interest. A mad wife in the attic, indeed! Yet we all yearned to see Jane find Mr. Rochester again. And how many of you remember when Rosemary Rogers came on the scene with Sweet Savage Love? Why did Ginny fall for someone who had raped her? Not so palatable a plot in this day in time, when no means no, but how many millions were captivated by a strong, yet ultimately tender villain?

Yes, there are always villains, and hopefully there always will be. After all, I have been known to say, “I just love a good murder.” It only takes a really good Villain to pull it off.

Sometimes we want them caught and shot at sunrise, sometimes we see through their would-be evil and just love’em. But perhaps the most fun comes from birthing your own – in print, of course. We all hope to create a memorable villain as well as our most memorable heroes and heroines.

Unlike creating the heroes and heroines, you have to get your creative juices flowing in a different vein (pun intended). Think Mother Superior, warm smile, twinkling eyes, and a black heart with a ruler ready to sting the hand.

It’s March. It’s Villains month. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keys) and create the most hated person ever, one whom you love to hate, yet maybe even hate to love.

Happy Writing,
Maxine Davis


Marilyn Baron said...

You've inspired me. Now I need to put your advice into action.

Marilyn Baron

Debbie Kaufman said...

Morning Maxine,
My WIP has two villains, both bad, bad, men. I'm having fun writing them both. Not sure what that says about me.

Sally Kilpatrick said...

Great post! What you said about Rosemary Rogers reminded me of the classic Luke and Laura romance on General Hospital. I'm sure my mother questioned the wisdom of letting my watch soap operas that day she was trying to explain how they could fall in love after he raped her. Come to think of it, that soap opera habit could explain my predilection for writing romance. And look no further than a soap opera for some over the top villains. Hmmm.

Susan May said...

Great post. You have give villians a lot of thought. I had not thought of Ms. Deavers is she is a great one.

Cyrano said...

The writing talent, wit and wisdom of my PFHT blog sisters ceases to amaze me. Every day in March we discuss the same thing, villains, but still, each one of you so far have managed to keep the post fresh and interesting.
Way to go Maxine! Loved the spin you put on it.
Did anyone ever see the romantic comedy Overboard? It's one of my guilty favorites. Every time Turner has it playing on one of his 300,000 networks, I watch it. You know why, because Goldie Hawn's character was soooo bad in the beginning. So nasty, so unfeeling and down right evil. Basically, she played a villain. But she redeemed herself in the end.
I think we secretly want the villain (in some stories) to have an oportunity to redeem him/herself. I guess that's why the hero raping the heroine in romances of old was...acceptable. Because we wanted the hero/villain to redeem himself. (Hopefully that made sense and I don't sound like I'm advocating assault)
Anyhoo, great post Maxine. You are definitely a fine wine in my book.
Happy writing to all and to all a good day!

Anna Steffl said...

Wow, I love your ending line about villians! They truly are the ones you love to hate OR the ones you hate to love! In rare instances, they are both.

Linsey Lanier said...

Great post, Maxine. I like your original spin, too.

Ooh, Luke and Laura. That brings back memories. And your mention of Mr. Rochester reminds me of Bronte's Heathcliff. I think that must have been a fad back then, the bad boy of that day.

Last night, my hubby was watching "Working Girl" (a chick flick - all on his own! amazing!). And I knew I had to mention Sigourney Weaver in that movie. Another good female villain.

This months is going to be fun, ladies.


Sandy Elzie said...

Good job! I also loved Working Girl...hated Sigourney Weaver. She reminded me of a male boss I had once. (The jerk)

But alas, the villain is needed for our hero/heroine to shine, so they are a necessary evil.


Maxine Davis said...

Thank you so very, very much! This is really a fun month although I have not had the nerve to write a book with a really good villain - only very minor, forgiveable snuffaws.

Yes, the blog was fun to write being able to sit and daydream about the great stories with great villains and not fill guilty over the time!


Mary Marvella said...

In one of my stories, my Critique partners liked the villain better than they did the hero. Big whoops!

On soaps and TV villains and heroes or protagonists change places -- kinda keeps things interesting.

Darcy Crowder said...

Great post, Maxine. I'm playing around right now with a scene that has a villain. My first really. I have to keep reminding myself not to go too overboard and keep him real. :)

Tami Brothers said...

I have to agree with everyone, this was a great thought provoking post. I had not thought of all these different villains. I'm going to have to rewatch some old favorites...

You all have inspired me to think about creating a villain of my own. Thank you for that!!!

Tami Brothers