It’s time for another group posting of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group! Time to release our fears to the world – or offer encouragement to those who are feeling neurotic. If you’d like to join us, click on the tab above and sign up. We post the first Wednesday of every month. Every month, the organisers announce a question that members can answer in their IWSG Day post. Remember, the question is optional!!!

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OPTIONAL IWSG Day Question: Whose perspective do you like to write from best, the hero (protagonist) or the villain (antagonist)? And why?

When I started writing my present series, The Chronicles of Aden Weaver, prior to 2008, I had only penned the protagonist’s story. Then, I took a writing course with New Zealand writer, Lindsey Dawson. I stayed behind after class one day. Lindsey drew a diagram of a single vertical line. “This is the main thread of your story, the protagonist’s point of view.” Then, she drew a number of other lines snaking up around the vertical line, spiralling around it and crossing back and forth. “These are your antagonistic forces. Sometimes they cross and create havoc. You need all these elements to write a story.”

Lindsay-Dawson

I had never thought about writing the antagonist’s story before then. Lindsey’s words opened my eyes. The more I looked at rogues in fiction and in film, the more I realized how vital it is to portray them convincingly. In fact, you could go so far as to argue, that crafting a credible, powerful enough villain is the most important part of crafting a narrative.

Alfred Hitchcock once said, “The more successful the villain, the more successful the picture.”

The idea of fleshing out the antagonist gave me licence to explore what was going on in the bad guys’ camp. And, when I finally did put out the first book in the chronicles, The Or’in of Tane Mahuta, it was presented from both Aden’s and Chief Wako’s point of view, and sometimes with Wako’s henchmen taking over the bad guys’ point of view.

The cover

Which did I enjoy writing more? Writing Aden’s story was fun, however writing about the bad guys was much more fun. Why? I think it’s because Wako could do and say whatever the hell he liked, pardon my French. Antagonists do not have to tiptoe around the “P.C. brigade,” by definition they don’t care whether they’ve said the wrong thing or offended anyone. Antagonists don’t need to think of the repercussions. They can act first think later because they don’t care about the consequences of their actions. They’re rebels, they don’t need to play by the rules.

It reminds me of actors/actresses saying they like the bad guy roles best because they get to really go wild. Similarly, in writing the antagonistic elements of my story, I could let my imagination run rampant, conjuring Chief Wako and his evil minions, imagining what over-the-top thing he was going to say or do next.

It was a liberating feeling. Whenever I wrote the bad guys parts, I felt so free. So energized. Antagonists are famous for not following the norms of society or adhering to the moral codes that bind the rest of us. It was nice to take a break from the sanctioned code of conduct and ride along with a character who makes up his own rules.

220px-Lordvoldemort

Bad guys are typically self-serving. We’re taught from a very young age to share, and that being selfish is the worst thing you can do. When I write the baddies, I can be as selfish as the little kid in me always wanted to be! Whoopee. That’s satisfying, let me tell you.

Although my rogue was a nasty guy at times, I grew to love him, because he was bold and brave, and an iconoclast. In fact, it was so much fun writing Chief Wako’s part that I had to tone it down at times for fear he would outshine the hero.

For the subsequent books, I followed the advice of my critique group and changed the books to a single point of view. I stopped writing the bad guys because I was advised that young readers find head hopping very hard to follow.

I missed writing the bad guys so much that I think in the next story I write, I’ll revert to multiple points of view again. I miss the villain too much.

Which do you prefer to write, hero or villain?

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Keep Writing!

Yvette K. Carol

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‘Nothing that happens to a writer – however happy, however tragic – is ever wasted.’ ~ PD James

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Subscribe to my Newsletter by emailing me with “Newsletter Subscription” in the subject line to: yvettecarol@hotmail.com

 

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Comments
  1. In some ways, I suppose that I like novels with highly-flawed, complex main characters. Sabbath’s Theater, by Philip Roth, for example. Rabbit Run, by John Updike, also.

    See you!

    Neil Scheinin

    Liked by 1 person

    • yvettecarol says:

      I know what you mean, Neil, I guess I can relate more to someone with flaws. I read mostly within my genre, being middle to upper middle grade. In Margaret Mahy’s “Magician of Hoad,” the lead character was complex and flawed to the point that you were never quite sure of him the whole way through the book – an experience I ultimately found unsettling.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lee Lowery says:

    I love the quote by Alfred Hitchcock! And it’s so true. Michael Corleone, Bonnie & Clyde, Hannibal Lector, all made for a successful story. I love to write the villian. They always think they’re the center of the world.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. emaginette says:

    Throughout the March IWSG posts, I’ve learned a lot about the antagonist. Turns out the question brought up answers I’ve never considered. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think you are right about why it’s more fun to write the villain’s POV.

    Like

  5. ChrysFey says:

    The diagram Lindsey Dawson drew for you is a great visual.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you Yvette for, as always, your great insight into writing stories. Love the Hitchcock quote, an absolute fan myself. I don’t think that there is an of his films that I have missed. A bit of a villain himself in real life, I gather from accounts of his lead ladies !
    Why don’t you write a follow up of your trilogy from the point of view of Wako ? Like that you won’t have to jump heads !
    Have a nice day 🌷

    Liked by 1 person

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