What I want in a Villain & The Curse of the Bad Chapter

What I want in a Villain & The Curse of the Bad Chapter



This is two blog posts for the price of one as I have been dwelling on both of these things.

The first is finding the villain that I find perfect for the novel. Yes sure, I’ve already named and described him in the first draft. But I really need to tease him out more. So I have been watching films and documentaries of actors who are known for characterisations of just the kind I was looking for.

I needed to actors who portrayed people with an acid tongue and a wealth of outrage and arrogance. They needed to evoke evil and yet be enjoyable to the audience. They needed to have a richness of character.

The English comedian Kenneth Williams did not play evil characters, but so many of his characters were stuck up and full of pride or self-importance. As a youth I loved him in the Carry On films, bought his books and loved his wit. His reality, from the documentary that I watched, had a sadness and loneliness about it. I felt I learnt something important about the balance of fragility and purpose that I wanted in my villain (Kerphulu).

Jonathan Harris (whom I briefly met in Sydney in 1993 at a lecture he gave) was the second actor whose works I studied. He was someone else who had fun with words, especially his trade-marked alliterative insults. I may examine some trade-mark phrase or something for Kerphulu. Harris could play true evil, and still have the audience amused. And also the sense of fun in his villainy. I also must aim at these, become these give a villain some depth.

The best I left for last: Vincent Price. I practically grew up watching B-grade horror and Vincent Price was the king of the genre. While some of the scripts they gave him were one-dimensional, he always managed to make the villain seem so much more complex. And once again there was a sense of fun in many of his villains. Certainly most were very civil and polite as they slew their victims. I so want a bad-guy who is pleasant and smiling as he slices his victims into pieces. Price’s villains also seemed to have a purpose, not just evil for evil’s sake. I already had a purpose for Kerphulu, but I need exaggerate it more and so I have added a couple of secondary characters to achieve this end.

So in this second draft I hope to add some aspects of characterisation that I have learnt from these find fellows.


Now the curse of the bad chapter

And so it came about one evening that I realised a bad chapter stalked the pages of my book. Like so many forms of evil it held certain delights for me.

First it contained valuable information that I wished to impart upon my readers. The main reason that the information was important was that it demonstrated my incredible cleverness in melding magic and science. The ego positively throbbed at that.

Secondly I had put a lot of effort into the dialogue. I mean, a LOT of effort. Days!

Unfortunately in re-reading the finished chapter I realised that the reason I had needed to put so much effort in the dialogue was that the weight of my initial cleverness overwhelmed the story’s flow. It was clunky. Boring. Onerous even.

O the tragedy!

So now I have scrapped the chapter in its present form and am thinking of something more straightforward with a faster pace that a reader will enjoy.

The lesson that I have learnt from this is that, as a writer, I should not let showing-off destroy the flow of a story.