Saturday, February 16, 2008

winning caption

Picture copyright John Bullas
Winning Caption - Blogless Troll
"And I thought Mommy's melons were tasty!"


Ok that one just made me laugh out loud, partly because it was exactly the same caption that came to my mind! I fear that Blogless and I are too similar - except that he is a man and I am a bitch. Wait that might be more alike then I thought! Just kidding! What I meant to say was that we have very similar senses of humor, and if you don't believe me, check out his new blog Underneath the Bridge. And a special nod to Lana Gramlich who's line "And I thought Mommy had nice melons!" was a close second! Thanks to everyone for their entries! They all made me laugh, except my husband's who clearly is a demented individual. Help me!

So we have contests going on all over the place, Christine Eldin, the former Church Lady, is having a great writing contest with lots of great entries in play. And I hear Jason Evans is rolling out his 8th writing contest! These are exciting times! I too have been thinking about doing a contest too, but mine has to be more lighthearted more fun. I'm taking suggestions if anyone has any to share! But I'll wait to roll mine out til after the big guns are done with theirs! And I'll have to think of a good prize. Bear with me, my mind works slower these days.

But I would like to ask my writing buddies for some writing advice. I have lately been working on my trio of evil villains for my YA novel. And I wondered, what makes a good villain and keeps him from being stereotypical? I want them to be villainous without being cardboard copies of every other villain that has walked the pages of fiction. One of my all time favorite villain is Alan Rickman's character as Hans from the very first Die Hard. A truly marvelous evil villain. He was charming, cold, calculating, self-deprecating, humorous, all wrapped up into this one character. But what other evil villains do you admire and why? And would you mind sharing your thoughts on what it is that makes a great villain without being stereotyped?

Thanks to all, in advance, for your help and advice.

24 comments:

Patti said...

love the caption! sadly, i have no adice for you, but i am sure others will fill my void...

Brenda Bradshaw said...

What makes a great villian? Ugh. So many things but what comes immediately to mind is a quirk that shows humanity. Like the killer who is an animal lover. The sadist who honestly loves his old grandmother. Like in Misery - she was cruel, but never used swear words.

Leave it to BT to think up the perfect caption! Way to go!

Charles Gramlich said...

One thing I think is important for the villain is that he or she not believe they are the villain. At least for realistic villains as opposed to more melodramatic villains. We tend to develop characters more completely when they think of themselves as the "heroes" of their own personal story.

Therese said...

Both Brenda's and Charles's examples are great, IMO. I like clever, intelligent villains (The Joker, Hannibal). One way to avoid unintended stereotypes might be to write up a "villain traits" list--all the things that first come to mind--and then for each trait you listed, try to come up with a more vivid or opposite alternative.

Lana Gramlich said...

Thanks for the nod. ;) Unfortunately I can't help much with your villain, as I predominantly read non-fiction these days. Actually, I guess there've been plenty of non-fiction villains, too...and those are scarier 'cuz they're real...

Mary Witzl said...

Brenda is right: a villain who shows his or her humanity is one who is truly compelling.

My all-time favorite villain is Fosco in Wilkie Collins' 'Woman in White.' He is particularly wonderful because he is quirky and talented and has a little pet mouse. I knew he was bad, but could hardly help rooting for him he was so much fun. I'm convinced that Wilkie Collins loved writing him up.

Robin S. said...

1- Yeah- that Alan Rockman villain was hot as a firecracker. He kicked Bruce Willis's ass on devsatatingly handsome and tasty.

2- Speaking of, um, tasty, looks like 'tasty' worked for you, BT!

Congrats! Tell EE, please, all about tasty.

Travis Erwin said...

I snoozed and missed the caption contest, but hopefully I'll get in the next one you do.

My villains are never obviously bad until late in the book. I think all great villains have proper motivation, at least in their eyes, and have at least some good qualities. Sorry, I know that is pretty generic advice.

ChristineEldin said...

The advice from Brenda and Charles is great. When I read your question, I was thinking along the lines of what Brenda said. Then couple that with Charles' piece of advice, and that's a killer combo.

I'm intrigued by your trio. Are they to be allies, or working against each other?

(And thanks for the shout out!! I also can't wait for Jason's contest!)

Ello said...

This is great advice! Will keep in mind for my villains. And yes my trio of villains are all working together, in a heirarchy of evil!

Chumplet said...

A great villian who comes to mind is Evil Genius, played by David Warner in Time Bandits.

One of his classic lines:
Evil: If I were creating the world I wouldn't mess about with butterflies and daffodils. I would have started with lasers, eight o'clock, Day One!

[zaps one of his minions accidentally, minion screams]

Evil: Sorry.

He was also pretty nasty as Dillinger in TRON.

I agree with Charles that the villain must actually believe that he's doing the right thing.

Bernita said...

I'm no help.
My villian's just a shit.
May depend on what stage the villiany is at.
If s/he's a developing villian or a completed villian.
But a villian with a sense of humor is scarier than any other kind.

spyscribbler said...

I like villains who I know so well and understand so well, that I almost want to root for them. Like Charles said, the villain who doesn't realize he's a villain is best. "Evil" is a weak motivator, in my mind. I prefer villain's who thing they're making the best choice in their situation.

Vesper said...

Great caption, Ello!

What about an emotional villain?

cyn said...

you need to sympathize with the villain just a little bit. there needs to facets of him or her that draws the reader, that makes her pause and think, hey, i sort of undrestand where he is coming from. or i sort of understand why he would do that, it's evil and demented, but sure.

you risk making them boring when you make them 100% bad.

cyn said...

think of when jaws fell in love with that blonde braided girl in moonraker. even jaws can fall in love! he's human.

Melissa Marsh said...

He/she must be sympathetic in some way, although that is sometimes hard to do. Another favorite villain of mine is Rickman's Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood.

blogless_troll said...

Woo-hoo! But I'd like to share the prize with Lana since it looks like the only difference was about five minutes. So, ello, please mail half the check to Lana. Thanks.

Conduit said...

A couple of my favourite baddies:

Francis Dolarhyde in Red Dragon. Thomas Harris does such a wonderful job of showing how his villain became what he is that he entirely wins your sympathy, and when he finds love and starts fighting against his own urge to kill, you really end up rooting for him.

Another, albeit in a film rather than a book, is Roy Batty in Blade Runner. Again, he is almost entirely sympathetic; he didn't ask to be created, and now he doesn't want to die. He is driven by the basic urge of all living things - survival.

Carleen Brice said...

Yes, I agree: villains don't think of themselves as villains. And to be interesting they shouldn't be 100% bad. Maybe only 99%. :)

Diesel said...

I think the key to a good villain is that they can't think of themselves as a villain. And now that I read the other comments, I see that's pretty much what everybody else is saying. Then again, I'm pretty sure Darth Vader thought he was the villain.

McKoala said...

Ha! Missed the contest, but love the winning caption.

Mike Myers' Dr Evil. Yes, he was a parody. But such a brilliantly quirky one, with so much attention to detail.

Demon Hunter said...

Congrats Blogless Troll!

Ello,

Sometimes I like villians who are just plain evil, and other times, I like the ones who are evil, but still likeable, if that makes. sense. I think it depends on what you're going for in your story. Do you want people to hate them, sympathize with them, or like them. It depends.

Precie said...

Oooh, Hannibal Lecter is a great example. Totally evil, but brilliantly so.

I love highly intelligent villains. They don't always need to have a humane side...the villain in No Country for Old Men is, as far as I can tell, totally unredeemed...cold, calculating, determined. He has no pity. But his determination and thoroughness are, in their own way, virtues.

So I guess what I'm talking my way around is that I think a great villain tends to be one who excels in some way. Whether or not they're self-aware of their villainy, they go above and beyond what "normal" people would do or think in some way (even if it's in ways that aren't grandiose--the woman in Misery...people seeing her in town wouldn't guess what she's doing...but she clearly has an over-the-top mean streak).