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EDIT: If you like this journal entry, check out The Sarcastic Guide to Writing ebook www.amazon.com/The-Sarcastic-G… for exclusive content on world-building, character, and dialogue!

1. If any of the stuff your villain pulls is on the Evil Overlord list, you need to rethink your strategy. Yep, this one: www.eviloverlord.com/lists/ove… I encounter far, far too many stories where the villain and the hero work in an idiotic tandem, a kind of moron tango that even the average Webelo scout could probably think his way out of.  One of my biggest sticklers is story logic, and I have a tendency to hound anyone relentlessly if they’re insisting on their characters doing stupid things for the sake of the story.  (Mostly because it’s insulting to the reader, i.e., me, and the reader owes nothing.) Villains appear to be the worst offenders of this, acting like puppets whose strings are plucked occasionally by the plot.  I’m not saying that your characters need to be genre savvy, but you need to be.  Because you do no one any favors by having a mustache twirling villain tie a girl to the railroad tracks.  We all know how it’s going to end, trust me.  My favorite rule on the list is the one where the five-year-old is on the villain’s council, because I think more authors need one of them on theirs.  As with everything, it gets worse with a Mary Sue or Anti-Sue villain: how someone so obnoxious and lacking in charisma ends up ruling a state or leading an army makes my brain short circuit.  And evil laughs?  Forget it.  The Joker’s the only guy I can think of that can pull that off effectively, and he definitely lacks the “mwa-” part of it.
2. Empathy for the villain is not sympathy for them; know the difference between the two. In case you don’t know, sympathy is harmony of or agreement in feeling; while empathy is the vicarious experiencing of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another.  J. K. Rowling was more than a little disturbed when a part of her fanbase sympathized, or AGREED WITH Voldemort and insisted he was just a misunderstood woobie, despite him, for all intents and purposes, being a wizard version of Hitler.  And any time one gets one to sympathize with Hitler, things get a little ... uncomfortable. Empathy is where you understand why the villain behaves how they do, but you don’t condone it.  It’s gotten very popular to do the Draco in Leathers Pants thing, like Cassandra Clare, where the villain is sexy, desirable, and more than a little misunderstood.  It’s just that, like Cassandra Clare, many fail miserably and rightly so.  Not everyone can pull off Hannibal Lector, who, I will point out, was actually a perfect execution of train-wreck-horrified-fascination-empathy, not sympathy.  While it’s perfectly okay to write from the villain’s POV, and make him the hero in his own mind, I see a lot of people who write in a way that suggests the reader should sympathize with his actions, be it atomic bombing or barbecuing puppies. This usually results in Author On Board, usually in some heavy-handed attempt to flip off the moral status quo or encourage the reader to check out other books on nihilism.  I can assure you that when I encounter this kind of crap I’m wondering A) Where did my story go? B) Why isn’t the villain the protagonist? And C) Does this author need therapy?  Villains are a chance to explore the darker side of yourself; they are not carte blanche to work out your demons on the page.  Tempting as it is, don’t use a villain as a billboard advertising the fun side of cutting yourself and attempting suicide.
3. Villains are scary because they’re competent, not because they’re evil. I have to say, I’ll take Michael or Jason over Hannibal Lector or the Joker.  Know why?  Because Hannibal and the Joker are smart.  So smart that it’s not enough for me to run away, I’ve got to out-think them, too.  A lot of authors seem to think that a villain having power is enough to make him scary.  I can grant you that if he has an atomic bomb and the desire to drop it.  That’s about the only scenario I can think of.  But it always seemed to me that in those classic slasher films, it never occurs to anyone to call the cops or get into a car and drive sixty miles in one direction.  I don’t care how unrelenting your serial killer walk is, Michael would go down under a SWAT team’s sniper.  I am not intimidated by a villain who juggles chainsaws and kittens, although that can certainly serve as a character establishing moment.  Show me how this guy manages to hide his habit and walk amongst the normals: then I might be scared.  A villain who is smart is never unarmed.  This is probably needless to say, but if your reader is thinking, “Oh, hell, I could beat this guy”, you haven’t done your job.  You may want to read this next line twice to make sure you get it, but: coolness, street-smarts, fashion sense, beauty, and wit are not competence.  They may aid the villain in some way, but they are not the same as being an effective and intelligent villain.  This isn’t to say that your villain has to be book smart, well read, or a lover of Chiante; all this means is that your villain is capable of being a villain.  As much, if not more, as your hero is capable of being a hero.  Sociopaths are scary because they’re invisible, clever, ambitious, and charming.  Madmen get cut down by the law in a frenzy; how long does it take to dig up the sociopath?  And who is scarier?
4.  Never make the hero suffer a drop in IQ just because the villain shows up. This rule sort of works in tandem with rule number one and rule number three, but on TVTropes this is called Too Dumb To Live.  Your hero, for some reason, has shown astonishing alacrity with swords and spellcasting, breezes through knight school, and climbs a mountain without breaking a sweat.  But then he meets the villain!  And suddenly, he’s a clumsy, idiotic klutz whose pathetic antics make the villain toss back his raven-haired head and laugh.  I usually only need to say one thing to get my point across when I run into to stuff like this: Aliens wasn’t an awesome movie because Ripley became as helpless as a slasher-flick teenager when she encountered the xenomorphs.  It was awesome because she became a survivalist genius out of necessity.  Too many people bump up their heros, lovingly stroking their own egos and skills, and then find themselves dumbfounded when the villain shows up.  It’s like a mental tug-of-war between “I love my hero!” and “Must-!  Tell-!  Story-!” and you see it play out on the page.  A villain is the penultimate obstacle for the hero, and should act that way.  The obstacles leading up to the villain should serve as training, giving the hero the tools to - oh, hell.  Google the Hero’s Journey and stop wasting my time!  Anyway!  When logic and common sense are not even on the board, you’re asking for trouble.  I personally might have some trouble responding to a break-in (I’m fairly certain my Rottweiler wouldn’t), but that doesn’t mean I’d suffer brain damage trying to think up a way to get away.  Like running upstairs with a killer in pursuit, when I know a neighbor with a cellphone is within screaming distance.  Don’t make your story lobotomize the characters, no matter how cool your villain is, especially if they have any kind of combat training.
5. Moral quandaries are more effective than any villain. To paraphrase Miyazaki, “to think that there is someone out there that you can blame problems on, find, and punish ... is ludicrous.”  Hence why you’ll notice many of his films lack a direct villain.  More often than not, it’s simply ideals clashing.  There is a difference between a villain and an antagonist, after all.  Fantasy (since it is my primary genre) tends to benefit from the massive dichotomy of GOOD and EVIL, but even that can be deconstructed and turned upside down.  Nowadays, with it being a global economy and all, it’s less about who we can blame and more about how the heck we all get along with each other and overcome our baser natures.  “Blaming” someone is seen as an easy answer at best and something that ends in “-ist” at worst.  Wrath’s cornered the market on war and cruelty, but how much damage do you think gluttony and sloth account for?  It can be interesting to examine things from a more grey perspective when you’re considering theme, or just attempting to get out of “easy answer” territory, which is where Jack Bauer’s heroic sociopathy finds rich roots.  Granted, sometimes readers want a good-triumphs-over-evil escapist tale, and there’s nothing wrong with that.  It’s just that, when I see a hero kill without remorse, because they believe they’re on the side of right, whether it’s a bad guy or not, a red flag goes up in my head that says “Holy crap!”.  That’s right, Eragon.  I’m looking at you!  www.oak-tree.us/blog/index.php… A hero who confronts his own hypocrisy overcomes a far greater obstacle than a mere individual.  Batman and Superman are heroic because they refuse to kill (otherwise, they'd be just like the Punisher, and we all know how lame he is.)  Just as villains go where the everyman fears to tread, so too should a hero go where the everyman lacks the strength to tread.  (But he should at least encourage us to try and get there.)  Be careful that your hero doesn't act like a villain, because when the ends justify the means by virtue of his "HERO" label, you're on a very slippery slope.
  • Listening to: How To Train Your Dragon soundtrack
  • Reading: Year of the Horse by Justin Austin?
  • Watching: How To Train Your Dragon
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:iconsaiyan4life:
Saiyan4life Featured By Owner Jun 15, 2014
This is quite fasinating.
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:iconnatfromgamefire:
NatfromGameFire Featured By Owner Jan 5, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist

Tip #2 will be very helpful for my newest dark fantasy/horror book, Obscurity, because I'm trying to make it so that readers can empathize  with him, but not sympathize. (Which will be kind of a difficult balance, because some people think that empathy = sympathy...)

Thank you for these articles you've written! :D (Sorry for not commenting on your other articles - I was reading each one, putting the articles in my favorites, and seeing another helpful article in the "More from Droemar" section.)

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:iconfullmetalzergrush:
FullmetalZergRush Featured By Owner May 14, 2012
"otherwise, they'd be just like the Punisher, and we all know how lame he is"

I am sorry, but I would have to disagree with you on that one, even though I enjoyed reading all of your journals. First of all, the Punisher is an anti-hero vigilante, not a traditional "hero" like Batman or Superman. Secondly, the Punisher appears to be a lot more realistic and compelling than Batman for a number of reasons (Don't get me wrong though, I love Batman for what he is). The character is someone who is deeply obsessed with vengeance and sees the world in very black and white terms, which is a legit flaw. He's an extremist who solves his problems with utter finality. I don't know you, but if you ever read Garth Ennis' Punisher comics (including the Slavers, which deals with the severe issue of human trafficking and forced prostitution), you will see how almost everybody is disgusted by the way he fights, in spite of the fact that his opponents are the worst scumbags ever. Just look at Kierkegaard's philosophy further. Since we can never hope to understand why we're here, if there's even anything to understand, the individual should choose a goal and pursue it wholeheartedly, despite the certainty of death and the meaninglessness of action. That's sure the Punisher as we can concieve him: a man who knows he's going to die and who knows in the big picture his actions will count for nothing, but who pursues his course because this is what he has chosen to do.

Also, the thing about sociology and the legal system is also kind of a finger in my eye, when it comes to the super-hero genre. A real functional society wouldn't accept a vigilante like Spider-man, Superman or Batman. The law would catch up, and stop them. Does the society accept the Punisher in Garth Ennis' work? No, and you can see law enforcement go after that man, including the members that are less corrupt. And guys like Bruce Wayne could do so much more for Gotham than dressing up as a bat. And Superman could create world-peace if he would volounteer as a energy-generator, supplying free electricity for the world.

But I agree with most of the points you made in this journal, especially the third point. :] I just thought I would have to tell you more about the Punisher. What says you? :)
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:icongottadosomething:
GottaDoSomething Featured By Owner Aug 4, 2010
This is well established and clarifies a few details. There is one thing that still bothers me about a villain.

This is when a villain is established as gaining power and then intentionally using it to causing the deaths of myriad numbers of people. I've seen stories where this type of thing is well written (in terms of a character either repenting during their life, or sticking to their course without regret). What bothers me in specific about this is mostly how a villain, or any character, really deals with the numbers they have taken. How do they account for their deeds? What direction does their life take if they aren't dead? How do their deeds weigh upon them, and how do they continue to function?

In the case of a hero, how does a hero account for the lives he had to take in order to protect what they did, or whatever else was their motivation? I say this, because intentionally taking another's life in a story, whether hero or villain, is, to put it lightly (at least from what is seen in stories, as I don't have experience with this in real life), a very frightening experience that permanently changes their state of being.

In the case a person wishing to atone for it (a villain renouncing their path or a hero feeling remorse for the actions taken), this becomes tricky due to the stigma (personal and collective) that is involved (for a former villain especially it would be rough).

I actually have a question. In therms of a character atoning for this type of action, how is this done exactly? Speaking objectively, this is because a character (a former villain especially) confronts particularly intense limitations (personal and collective from society) and suffering on account of their actions. That is, what can a character actually do amidst these kinds of severe limitations?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Aug 5, 2010
I think your question is basically the heart of a story. You're asking "what if?" which is the seed of any story. If you've ever read "Roadwork" by Stephen King (under his pseudonym Richard Bachman), he asked the question of "what would happen if an ordinary, law-abiding guy lost everything because of an unfeeling system?" And the story answers the question by slowing watching the main character melt down, self-destruct, and finally stand off against the police with an elephant rifle and explosives.
Regardless of limitations, the essence of story, for the most part, is watching a character overcome those limitations. Violently, peacefully, etc. Villains, by definition, are far less likely to consider the moral ramifications of breaking out. Heroes do consider them (or at least should.) The "taste of death" moment in every story should always change a character; it's the mythical symbol of death and rebirth, and not doing so is missin gout on a pretty critical part of the story.
But I can't really answer your question. It's something you'll have to figure out and write down.
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:iconnightmargin:
NightMargin Featured By Owner Jul 19, 2010  Hobbyist General Artist
#5.

THIS :iconooohplz:
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:iconandroidgirl:
androidgirl Featured By Owner Jun 4, 2010
About #4, does it count you blame the drop in IQ on fear and adrenaline? Like, say the character outside of the situation (like a burglary) would say, "If my cell phone wasn't on silent, calling 911 would draw attention to me and that would be just stupid!", but once thrown into that situation, panics and does just that?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Jun 5, 2010
For me, if a character thought just that and then DID just that, that would put them in Too Dumb To Live territory. But that may not be true for everyone, and it IS a realistic reaction for a character that's, say, a schoolkid or a stay-at-home-mom. Rule#4 was just about making sure that you don't establish your hero as a capable guy fighting-wise, and then by virtue of the villain showing up, throw all that out the window. I've seen SWAT guys trip or fail to sweep a room correctly just so TEH VILLAINZ can get the drop on them. And making the hero stupid doesn't make your villain cooler. It just kind of sucks all around.
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:iconandroidgirl:
androidgirl Featured By Owner Jun 9, 2010
Oh good. Because the character in question is a normal high school girl.
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:iconainrana:
Ainrana Featured By Owner May 9, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
that was pretty hard to read...could you add indents to it?
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:iconcelestestorywriter:
CelesteStorywriter Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010  Student General Artist
"Show me how this guy manages to hide his habit and walk amongst the normals: then I might be scared."
You need to read Intensity by Dean Koontz, now. AND you need to watch the movie version on Youtube: [link]
I just needed to get me out of my system.
Vess terrifies me and fascinates me, and I love his character for it-- and while he is a killer, the philosophy he lives by, actually makes some sense in a twisted way...
Too bad he kills people just because "If it feels right, then it is right." as he himself said.
Hope you'll give it a chance.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Apr 29, 2010
Oh, I LOVE Intensity! It's my favorite book by him aside from Watchers. And when John C. McGinley became Dr. Cox, it took about six seasons before I could stop seeing him as Edgler Vess. (God Fears Me.) He did SUCH a good job in that movie! And actually, for a made for TV movie, the movie as a whole kicks the crap out of a lot of Hollywood stuff for sheer suspense.
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:iconcelestestorywriter:
CelesteStorywriter Featured By Owner Apr 30, 2010  Student General Artist
Shiiiiiii--
Another [SCRUBS]/Intensity fan? 8D YAY.
It kind of happened opposite for me-- I saw Dr. Cox first, THEN Vess, and I couldn't stop squeeing throughout the whole movie; I kept thinking this was Dr. Cox in an alternate life or something fanfictional like that. xD
Oh, look at me, going fangirl. I love that actor way too much.
"God Fears Me," you say? "Forever."
It's been awhile since I've seen a suspense film that wasn't just beating the crap out of people and solving puzzles that even confuse you when they're explained.
I literally got chills during every single Edgler scene, and it takes a lot to do that to me while watching a movie where there are no monsters-- at least, not literally.
McGinley: awesomesauce actor. He can play BOTH a healer and a killer perfectly, with no ripples from the sheer difference in roles.
Kudos to Koontz as well, after all, he's the one who created Intensity in the first place... :heart:
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:iconandroidgirl:
androidgirl Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2010
About Rule 2: What if the author who uses villain POV to make the reader sympathize actually wants the reader to question what he or she is reading and be self aware as a reader during or after reading rather than a person fully lost and immersed in the story? (Not to say that the latter isn't desirable, but you know well how people lost in bad stories are.)
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2010
I would say that that method would still count as executing empathy, not sympathy. Because the author would have to be well aware of what they were doing in order to manipulate the reader into questioning such things, whereas sympathy would be intentional "Oohhhhh, isn't the widdle villain so sad! Don't you feel sorry for him, torching those kittens?". Granted, poorly executed sympathy can do this, but only to a reader that's intelligent enough to figure out the author is a moron.
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:iconandroidgirl:
androidgirl Featured By Owner May 11, 2010
So you would count "Oh isn't the widdle villain so sad! Don't you feel sorry for him, torching those kittens! *minutes to hours after the book has been put down* Wait what the heck was I thinking?" as empathy?
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:iconsharpfang:
Sharpfang Featured By Owner Apr 16, 2010
As for point 1.:
- DO one of the things on the list.
- Then twist the outcome, add a caveat, so that the villain actually wins the round, and wins it more so than he would normally.
- For bonus points, lampshade the list. "Why, yes, I did read the Evil Overlord list. I didn't agree with it on certain points though."
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:iconzada2011:
Zada2011 Featured By Owner Apr 13, 2010
I'm currently trying to make a story of my own right now, and your journal posts have been a blessing. Your skills and perception of the story no no's have me going in some kind of dirrection. Thank you for taking the time to write these for the deviant art community to learn from.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Apr 14, 2010
You're very welcome. A lot of these are helpful to type out, basically proof that I've internalized stuff about craft, so it's doubly satisfying to see it helps others.
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:iconkittyfritters:
Kittyfritters Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010  Student Digital Artist
Have I mentioned before that I am loving your journals, especially how strongly opinionated and sometimes harshly true they can be? Seriously, every one makes me think twice about a story I've been working on for 7+ years. From the beginning many things in it were so cliche it was almost disgusting as I was about twelve or thirteen when I first thought it up, and little by little these journals are helping me murder those cliches and tell a far better story!

I'm almost tempted to see if you'd be so kind as to tell me the hard truth about what needs fixing in the plot and characters. :XD: That sort of thing is often hard to come by.

As far as villans go, I'm rather fond of the idea of no one being strictly evil or strictly good-- everyone has a little bit of both. Even the bad guys have to (or at least CAN) care for and love their own spouse and children, right?

As far as villans go, what do you think of "new evil" and "old evil?" That is to say, sort of like new money versus old money in that some villans might have known good earlier in their life and can make the conscious choice against it but choose not to which makes them essentially evil, while some might have only known evil and so in their minds they're doing exactly what they've always accepted as right.

Can one even realistically pull off "new evil" anymore without it being cliche, boring, or in no real way surprising?
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Apr 3, 2010
I'm not quite sure if I understand the "new evil"/"old evil" thing, but I'll try an answer or two.
I think that a villain that knows good but chooses evil would be extremely hard to pull off, but not impossible. I have a character that would fall under that definition: he knows love and devotion, admires generosity and selflessness, but the actions he performs are cold, logical, and calculated evil. He has two justifications: one, the one thing he does love can't consciously return his adoration, and two, he's a latent God of Chaos and Unmaking (which bleeds into his psyche over the course of three books.) Whether or not I succeed in making him an effective villain is a question for the future, but nonetheless he applies to the first definition.
Your other definition has a similar answer: it would be possible to pull off with justification, namely invoking indoctrination or a Raised By Wolves/Orcs past to evoke empathy for why the character's moral compass is screwed up: they never got a chance. Of course, using this on fantasy races tends to lend itself to the Always Chaotic Evil rule, i.e. orcs are evil 'cause they're orcs, and that can head straight into racist territory (especially if you replace "orcs" with a real life race.)
I think the "Mwahahaha, I'm doing it for the Evulz!" villain counts as "old evil", and as far as that goes, I think that type of evil is dying out, if not already dead. But that's also because the social consciousness of humanity is shifting, as it has for quite some time. Value and Moral Dissonance are easy to find in older works, just because what was culturally acceptable for the day is seen by us as reprehensible. The definition of "evil" remains as old as time itself, but what drives us to do it is still a mystery. Then again, what exactly constitutes "evil" can be seen as practical by others, so villains should simply inhabit the shadow realm between right and wrong. If you can keep us guessing about that shadow realm, you're doing the villain right, and I do believe it is possible to pull it off either way.
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:icontox2wallz:
tox2wallz Featured By Owner Apr 2, 2010
that, is very sound advice!

... though I actually like the Eragon series |DDD. BUT YES, HE DOES TURN INTO A F***ING SOCIOPATH. xDDD
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:iconkijara1:
Kijara1 Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2010
Your journals are really great, even though I don't make a lot of these mistakes (thank God! :phew:) it's still nice to be reminded of how others are going to perceive your characters, and to always keep that in mind when you are writing scenes for them.

My own solution is to write a thorough personality profile for the characters and then STICK TO IT :D When you do that, it's like the scenes sometimes write themselves. You just need to think about how a person like that would react in a situation like this and forget all about "but-I'd-really-like-to-draw-this-and-this-side-of-my-FABULOUS-character-in-this-scene".
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:iconkreepingspawn:
KreepingSpawn Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
:clap: again a monstrously useful point-by-point. great 'villains'/antagonists make our heroes worth so much more! i know this will be very helpful as i attempt to flesh out the [evil?]forces opposing my own "hero". :)
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:iconlaughingfacade:
LaughingFacade Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Another life saving (or story saving, in this case) tutorial! The link was fantastic, and one of the only things that's ever made me laugh out loud. Thanks oodles!

~LaughingFacade
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
I mean, what made you lol, out of curiosity?
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:iconlaughingfacade:
LaughingFacade Featured By Owner Mar 30, 2010  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well, all the stuff on the list made perfect sense, and as I was reading it, I realized that villains make those simple mistakes so much. The author made it sound like making those mistakes was just so illogical, and I couldn't help myself =)
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
W
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:iconlupinator:
Lupinator Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
Hahaha... I love this!

In my own writings, I pretty much completely avoid the whole good vs evil route, and its far more about exploring human nature and explaining how anyone, given the right circumstance, can become a psychopath and a monster (although never mindlessly or completely).

Obviously, for a character to evolve into a "villian" it requires this type of preface, coupled with the right motivation and extremism, and a clear advantage in power and intelligence.

But, in truth, I think that both of us can agree that if you want an intelligent, savvy, and profound story+charcters, you need an intelligent, savvy, and profound author. And, that... is sometimes asking a lot. Hell, I can't even say my writings will even be worth a second glance.
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:iconelixia-dragmire:
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
i just read the whole list AND the other two links at the bottom too and just realised WHO the 'overlord' is: Its Lord Vetinari
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
I'm afraid I'm not familiar with who that is.
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:iconelixia-dragmire:
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
ah. a tyrant that runs the major city in the disc world books, he's terrorifying, powerful but always one step ahead of the competition (and hero's) and offers a fair service to the city in order to keep ranks happy (or busy) from over throwing him.
Not entirely a villain but a politician ;) but aren't they the same thing?

heres a link with more info: [link]
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:iconelixia-dragmire:
Elixia-Dragmire Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
love it!
not actually introduced the badguys yet in my story, the so called 'main one' is more of a bogeyman figure and hardly appears. but his lieutenant is the one they encounter more, a social-path.
this journal should help keep them on the straight and narrow (so to speak) though unfortunately i'm partly at the mercy of my writer ;^; i only get to rescript ...
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:iconjzlobo:
JZLobo Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Hobbyist Writer
Wow, you've made some points that I never even considered before. Thank you for this.
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:iconredmagesalyre:
Redmagesalyre Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010
I'm think I'm going to saw this is perhaps the best one of this series so far, mainly because I've seen the whole "villains as sympathetic/empathic characters", gets on my nerves when you have a villain like the likes of Voldemort, who's basically Magic Wizard Hitler, who slaughters/murders/tears his way to to top without a scrap of remorse or mercy... and oh my god, there are people who are like, "But... but he's sooo misunderstood." If you're going to like a villain, it's because he/she's well characterized and well-thought through, or else it's Mr. Freeze from Batman and Robin. I find that villains who believe what they do is good, rather than one who's like "I will do evil, because I am evil" are generally boring unless it's a parody (like Dr. Evil or The Monarch) or if the actor does his or her part fairly well.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
I can say there's a difference between an author who does it intentionally and a fandom that's just stupid, but it had to start somewhere. I blame the 90's obsession with anti-heros in part, but other people, like Clare, really pushed it too far. I have to say, if someone lauded a Hitler-esque villain of mine, I'd be hard pressed not to slam them down.
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:iconredmagesalyre:
Redmagesalyre Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
I'm starting to wonder if #2 this is the reason why Lucas wouldn't put the young female Sith Lord in the prequels; seeing the concept art for Episode 2, I can say it was probably a good thing.
As for the lauding, yeah, I'd be pretty hard pressed to not slam them down. For some reason, I remember a interview with Clive Barker talking about how women would tell him how much they loved Pinhead and wanted to marry him, even though he doesn't do a single good thing throughout the series. From the tone of his voice, he was rather disturbed.
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:iconsnowraven-moonstar:
SnowRaven-Moonstar Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010   Writer
I love these journals. I try to keep all of them because I hope that I can use them as a reference with my own writing. I know my own ideas need a lot of work and polishing and your journals give me somethign to refer back to in order to make sure I'm not making crutial mistakes.

It woudl be interesting to see what you have to say about the anti-hero. I've been wantign to attempt a story usign the anti-hero but I doubt my own skills to pull it off.

I hope you will continue to keep these journals coming. They really force me to think about how I'm going about my own writing. Already I'm thinking I may be making some crutial mistakes with one of my antagonists. I've been trying to keep the story shades of grey but I'm not entirely sure I'm accomplishing that.

anyway thanks and take care.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
I guess I'm not a big fan of anti-heros, mostly because the 90s introduced them and we've yet to let go. Case in point, I loved the original Clash of the Titans movie, and the main hero was a friendly youth who held conversations with a mechanical owl. I can guarantee no such individual will be in the remake, especially not as the lead. Anti-hero, full stop. They even made his pegasus black.
But I might as well do some tips on writing heroes. I'd at least touch upon the subject.
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:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Professional Filmographer
We had a discussion on our forum once where someone started talking about how hot Draco Malfoy is and that he's just misunderstood. I pointed out that Malfoy is essentially that horrible racist douchebag from your school who relies on Daddy's money to back him up and has to keep yesmen around just to make himself feel secure. IRL, you'd hate this guy's guts. But for some reason because he's a book character (or probably cuz his actor in the films is attractive) he gets a pass.
"Hey! I didn't say black people, I said 'Muggle'. Totally different!"

Then again, I think one of the "failings' of JK Rowling's books is I never did get a good explanation for why the Ministry of Magic and the whole wizarding world is secret. Harassment from the normals? Seems like even children know how to protect themselves fairly well. And mentions of the Inquisition ran something like "yeah a few real witches were caught, but they escaped pretty easily. it's the poor Muggles who suffered the worst."
And I take it wizards aren't afraid of nukes or guns, considering they can rewrite all of reality. And no magically-endowed Muggleborn have parents who love to gossip. Really, Harry Potter is best read if you kind of forget the implications of a massive magic conspiracy.

Perhaps I should've saved that rant for your magic-rules journal.

Which reminds me, please go check out "Kitty and the Midnight Hour". It's some of the most competent urban fantasy i've ever read. Some seriously scary moments and a fairly realistic take on how real people dealing with supernatural disorders like vampirism and lycanthropy would work. And the radio segments are simply hilarious.
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:iconfullmetalzergrush:
FullmetalZergRush Featured By Owner May 16, 2012
With the HP stuff, the argument about Draco being "HAWT" is silly, but I do understand why he has some popularity. Rowling really delved deep into his psyche in Half-Blood Prince, revealing that beneath the sneering facade is a tortured teen tormented by his perceived failure to live up to his parents' expectations and consequent self-loathing, as well as his fear of being pushed into Voldemort's service. As for the secrecy of the Wizarding World, if I recall, it is because some wizards would always impose themselves upon Muggles in the past and try to enslave them (Dumbledore himself was guilty of this when he was younger), so, in order to protect both themselves and the Muggles, the Ministry cracked down on these Nazi-esque wizards and established secrecy.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010
Would this be a bad time to ask about that Metuo animation? ;)
I suppose that particular aspect of the story never bothered me, but I think that's part of my "reader" process'. An author says "Here's the world" and I say "Okay, but you better be consistent within it without being so blatant about your concept that it shakes the foundation of my belief."
I guess that's why Paolini's bad writing creates a domino effect for me, whereas Rowling was so good at telling the damn story that I could forgive her just about anything.
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:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Professional Filmographer
It's true. It's like TVTropes says. Just because a trope is used doesn't make it bad. I've seen some comments on Cartoonbrew.com criticizing HTTYD for not being "original". Frankly, I think there was enough new elements and an exciting story to keep me from feeling bored. It wasn't just entertaining, it was thought provoking. And Rowling achieved that. Harry Potter isn't a new story, but it is a very well told story with a lot of important lessons.
I think I might be able to finish that animation today since I have a touch of free time that I'd rather not spend grinding away on school work. And that horse is fun. Also I feel guilty promising trades and not finishing them. Thank you for the reminder.
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
Woohoo! I look forward to it.
Compared to the other dragon rider I could name, I thought the relationship was MUCH better done. I especially liked that Toothless wasn't keen on Hiccup right off the bat, that he had to work to earn his respect.
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:iconfablepaint:
FablePaint Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010  Professional Filmographer
Also that Toothless wouldn't die just because Hiccup might. He'd be depressed sure and probably grounded due to his disability, but he's self-sacrificing because they're FRIENDS, not because of some mystic mental bond.
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:iconfurrama:
Furrama Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010   Digital Artist
My favorite villains are the ones who aren't villains at the beginning of the story, but the ones you watch morph into one.
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:iconmadkatter:
MadKatter Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010
Oooh, awesome. I'm writing a story that actually has a villain for the first time.
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:iconmirime-duinram:
mirime-duinram Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010
#5 is why I don't write villains, I write lots of people who are sometimes jerkasses (and some more than others.) Of course, my current WiP was technically started when I was twelve; I had this civil war going on and one side was Good and and Awesome, and the other side was Bad and Pathetic. Fortunately I am no longer twelve (not that there's anything wrong with being twelve, but it's been a while so I should probably be something else now) and my presentation is a little more nuanced.

(Also, nitpick? *'all intensive purposes' in #2 should be 'all intents and purposes.')
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:icondroemar:
Droemar Featured By Owner Mar 29, 2010
DAMN IT! Okay, I fixed it. *shakes fist*
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:iconskulldog:
skulldog Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2010  Professional Digital Artist
Number 2 on that list is so, so key to writing good antagonists. I get really angry at movies that try to make these 'You should pity this villain, but he's also EVIL!' type set up that tries way too hard.

Another thing, is that people tend to overlook is a villain's progress as a character, having them start with a legion of doom, death rockets and moon base from the start leaves little room for growth. A good hero learns and grows from their experiences in a story, why shouldn't the villain do so as well?

Love the journals!
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