For our last guest post about Villains, tip your black hats to the wonderful Ayla Ruse! (But if you dread the end to a darker theme, there’s still September’s Embracing Darkness and October’s Horror.)
Thank you for having me here today, Aurelia. You are always so warm and welcoming; I have a great time when I visit.
Today I’m discussing a subject that made me sit down and think for awhile: villains. We all know them, but what is it about them that catches our attention?
Villains come in all shapes and sizes and demeanors. Some are right there in your face—there’s not a doubt in the world this person is bad news. Others may be psychotic—they believe their vile nature/behavior has an ultimate purpose. Still others will never recognize that their actions are evil. Any way they come, I do like a well-written villain.
However, I write romance. Erotic romance, to be more specific, and as a general personal rule, I don’t write much in the way of villainy. Yes, there are times I’ve penned a character or two who causes trouble for the hero or heroine. But my villains tend to be on the softer side.
In Temptation Released, for example, the villain is a self-centered, selfish man. It’s not that he doesn’t believe he’s doing anything wrong; he simply doesn’t care. As a reader, I can sink my teeth into whatever punishment may come to that character. After all, he or she did something bad and didn’t care, so why should I care that the villain is now being shipped to some sheik who takes special pleasure in torture. A win-win overall and the hero and heroine can now make love in the setting sun without a stressful past haunting them.
Likewise, in my sci-fi romance, Fever Hitch, the villain is another self-centered character whose only goal in life is to do whatever works in his or her favor. In a twist though, the main characters would have never even met if it weren’t for the actions of the villain. In this case, yes, I used the villain to catapult the resulting relationship of the three main characters.
Not all of my villains have been the nice-and-easy variety, however. A couple years ago I wrote a short piece called The Fires of Beltane. In this erotic horror, my villain is twisted and psychotic—believing their evil actions are simply a way to bring about a greater force. The violence is justified as a necessity. At the end of the day, you do want retribution but at the same time, you feel sadness for the twisted path the characters chose. This type of villainy could have been avoided.
Why am I saying words like justified and avoidance? How can any villain’s actions be justified? Easy. To them, it is.
Let me see if I can explain. When I write a character, I think back to my days of acting. The rule of thumb I was taught and adopted whenever I’d play a role is that the character believes in its own words and actions. Whether we as readers or onlookers may think them bad or good, serious or funny, the character must believe in what they do. For example, a good comic character does not believe him or herself as a funny person. Their words or actions may come out wrong or twisted, providing a good laugh from the rest of us, but the comedic character needs to play his part with all the seriousness of a dramatic role. Then their actions become humorous.
In writing a villain, the same rule applies (to me at least). An effective bad guy/girl thinks, talks, acts thoroughly evil with their entire being. If we were to read about a villain that kills off the main character’s sister but thinks, “Oh, that was not a nice thing to do. I’m sorry I did that…” this would immediately lessen his or her credibility as a villain. If there’s a chance for remorse, then there’s a chance for redemption, and a good stable villain would not want such—if the writer intends the villain to remain bad.
As a reader, an effective villain provides just as much entertainment for me as the love interest. Admit it, we love to love the bad guy. Not because we think he or she will turn a new leaf, but I think there is a bit of astonishment that there are people out there that really think and feel these ways. Maybe even because the villain portrayed has tapped into the deepest, darkest parts that lurk within all of us. As we’re outraged with the action, we’re secretly in giddy shock because we may have thought about such a deed, but our conscious or even subconscious has kept us from taking those steps into unpardonable evil.
As a writer, I feel it’s important to not only meet the above feelings, but to also make the villain have a purpose to the story. The villain can be the catalyst or the goal. And in writing such characters, I DO have to tap into those dark parts within myself. That can be scary in itself. Right now I’m in the middle of writing a straight horror story and yes, some scenes I’ve developed have made me lose sleep. I’m thinking it’s making the character awesome and I will be ecstatic to hear if another loses sleep over the book, but from a practical standpoint…it leaves me with goose-bumps. How can my mind even go to some of places I’m taking? Be afraid…it’s in all of us.
At the end of the day though, even in a love story, there has to be consequences for the villain. You cannot simply make such a character disappear. Unless you’re working on a series, but even then, you’ll eventually come to an end. Creating this ending is as important to the story as the happily-ever-after is for the hero and heroine.
So here’s a toast to villainy. To all its ups and downs, evil and underhanded actions, and vile and selfish thoughts. The ones we love to hate and the ones we hate to love. After all, without them, many a story would have never seen the light of day.
Ayla’s two latest releases, Fever Hitch (erotic sci-fi romance; menage) and Temptation Released (erotic historical romance; bondage), have villains of the light variety, but are oh-so important to the stories events. Both of these short stories can be found on Amazon and All Romance eBooks.
Ayla bakes away in the sunny south but dreams of warm fires in a cabin anywhere it might be snowy. Then she could let her muse loose on a writing rampage that would probably result in the loss of limb function! That, or she’d have every evil character she can think of surround her snow-bound self. Too creepy.
Instead, she sits in relative safety in front of noisy fans and types in waves while fielding the needs of her family. She is currently published with Totally Bound and Changeling Press, and she loves to hear from readers. You can find her almost anywhere on the web: