Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sunday Musings: October 26 2014


Hey there, Everyone!  Hope you had a great week and are having a fun weekend.

Are you familiar with the saying...everyone loves a bad boy (girl)? I've even heard friends say...the bad guy's the best part. Or actors saying playing the villain is more fun.

Have you guessed what we're musing today?

...your favourite villain...type of villain.

Think Dracula. Think Hannibal Lector. Think the jealous husband/wife.

Type of villain...paranormal, psycho, spur-of-the-moment


Let's see how our Musers' conversation went this week:


I love villains who are gray, who do what they do for a reason. Sometimes it's even a good reason, but their methods are still evil and unconscionable. The ones who you want to root for, but can't...or maybe you sometimes do. :-)

I also love the really, REALLY evil ones like the Sheriff of Nottingham in the BBC Robin Hood. Sometimes, you just need a good "bad guy."

I like really dark villains -- Dracula vs. Wolfman, who does not want to be what he is.  A serial killer vs. John J. Doe, who shoots someone during a holdup and carries on from there.  I also like villains with a personality.  I loved the Sherriff of Nottingham on the Richard Green Robin Hood series (the characterization, that is) and also the orc commander in the final Lord of the Rings movie.

...Antagonists, usually villains, are needed to provide the protagonists with a challenge. An opponent with some depth/personality adds to the challenge and interest.  I'm definitely not talking hero worship of the bad guys.


My favorite villain these days is definitely from the Game of Thrones series. The head of the Lanister family. Lord and protector - the father. He was as unscrupulous as they come but everything he did, every devious manipulation, was for the good of his family line. Although he is probably in whatever hell they have on GOT I'm sure, he was no doubt the ultimate statesmen and leader.

I like villains with personalities, even if they're crazy. One of my favourite villains is Mordred, in different Arthurian books and movies. He always has an intriguing past and often isn't really a villain, such as Mordred from Mary Stewart's book The Wicked Day. In this book, he is devoted to Arthur but gets into bad circumstances due to his ambition, even though he has good intentions. In other books, such as T.H. White's The Candle in the Wind, Mordred is the villain, but we can see what has corrupted him to be so.

And if TV shows count, then I find that Once Upon a Time does a great job characterizing their villains, such as the evil queen, Regina, who turns out to not be a villain after all (or is she...?) and Rumpelstiltskin, who certainly has villainous tendencies, but is too unpredictable to be counted as a villain or a "good guy" (I wouldn't go so far as to call him a hero).


Patrick Bateman from American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis is one of the most chilling villains that I have come across. Outwardly he is the all American dream, handsome, suave and a successful investment banker. Yet behind closed doors he is a sadistic rapist and a serial killer. The most chilling thing is how close to home the character is. If, like me, you have worked in a corporate environment you will have encountered these men and women; the vacuous, materialistic type boasting about having the latest model of car, this season's Manolos or designer taps in their remodelled bathrooms. Yet the hole in Bateman's soul cannot be filled by consumer items and he murders for sexual pleasure, because a cash machine told him to do it or once just to see if he might like it. He epitomises the lofty heights of high consumerism when people become as disposable as possessions and the rich sit outside the law. Even when Bateman confesses he is not taken seriously due to his perceived standing in society. An over the top and utterly terrifying villain.

Arnold Avery, the villain in Belinda Bauer's award winning Blacklands is another character that has made a dark impression on me. Bauer weaves a wonderful narrative in which some of the scenes are written from the point of view of a jailed paedophile serial killer. She takes us right into the psyche of a killer to the point where it is uncomfortable to read yet she never has to resort to shock for effect. Every one of Avery's actions is laden with meaning. For example even the simple act of rubbing a plaque leaves the reader horrified as he becomes aroused in simply touching the commemorative name plate inscribed with the name of one of the children that he has murdered. Unlike Bateman he is a subtle and understated but chilling villain.

DAWN KNOX, author

I think there's something wrong with me! I don't like villains at all. The only sort of villain I could appreciate is a person who at first appeared to be a villain and later turns out to be a good guy. The character who came to mind, is Robin Hood, which is interesting because I see that two other Musers have given the Sheriff of Nottingham as their favourite villain!
I don't like nasty people, so I don't like reading about them but I look forward to reading the other Musers' posts too as I feel I'm missing out on something!

Personally, I love the paranormal villain best.  Darth Vader... Voldemort...   Those two are my all-time favorites!  I love that they are so powerful and hard to overcome.  For me, the good vs the evil really depicts heaven and hell, God and Satan, etc.  It is very powerful.  They are the forces we encounter in our own lives daily only personified into fictional reality

However, Hannibal Lector is also very intriguing.  I am morbidly fascinated with the serial killers.  I like them to be have maybe a touch of humanity left (Dexter).  I want to understand how and why their mind functions - but I love the suspense as well.   I like the mystery element - trying to figure it all out and make it make sense. 

Villains - Like Dawn, I like villains that sneak up on the reader. You don't realized they are a bad right away.
That and villains that do it for all the right reasons.
I want to sympathize a bit with the villain, not detest the ground they walk on.
They are fun to write and play with.  I enjoyed writing the scenes in the third book in my saga.

I'm not overly fond of villains myself, but we need to have them to add tension and interest to our stories.  The ones I like the best are the ones the hero, or preferably the heroine, has the honor of administering the beating they so richly deserve.  Unfortunately, life rarely imitates art and villains in the real world so often don't get what they deserve.  Since I am very much an "eye for an eye" kind of person, I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of a story when the bad guy finds out what goes around comes around, as the cliche says.

Funny you should mention Hannibal Lector. He's just the sort of cringe-worthy villain I love to hate. Since you need a villain/conflict to make the story more interesting, his character would be at the top of my list. Witty, charming, even likeable in a twisted sort of way. Hannibal is the kind of guy who keeps you on your toes. The type you would never, ever want to let your guard down around. The kind who can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.


My favorite antagonist in the written word: Lady Catherine de Bourgh. She's believable--as are most of Jane Austen's characters--in her selfish ambitions and encounters with Lizzie Bennet. But you can sort of see her point of view, in wanting the best for her daughter to the point of threatening Anne's competition. It's when you can see the antagonist's side of things and/or empathize in some way, that is when the character starts to breathe...for me, at least. Another villain I enjoy is Dolores Umbridge from the Harry Potter books. She makes me think of aspartame: sickly sweet yet poisonous!

My favorite antagonist in the movies is Mrs. Elton from Gwyneth Paltrow's "Emma" (yes, I know, based on the book by Jane Austen, which I haven't finished reading.) She's just so--over-bearing and annoying, that I can't help but laugh at and despise her.

So, for me, a villain doesn't have to be outright scary to be effective. Give me someone smart who has a good motive, and I'm in!
Thanks for joining us and see you next week!
 If you have a question or comment you’d like us to muse upon, do not hesitate to contact me Christine Steeves-Speakman  at


anne stenhouse said...

I love crafting my villains. Sometimes the attractive but slightly arrogant Hero has to discover he underestimated the villain's motivation, Bella's Betrothal. I think this adds thematic depth to a story. Occasionally, the Heroine is guilty of assuming appearances tell the whole story, Mariah's Marriage. One of the many joys of being a writer is the chance to 'colour in' the characters of one's imagination.
Enjoyed reading all the posts. thanks, Guys.

J.Q. Rose said...

Oh, you wicked wicked people liking villains! LOL..Of course without the villain there is no story...My favorite villain is in the Netflix original series, House of Cards. Kevin Spacey is delicious as the manipulating senator (and I won't tell you if he gets himself into the Vice Presidency with all his back door schemes.) The lies, the murders, the brilliant manipulations--delicious.

Marsha said...

Nice job, y'all!