I Found Myself in the Villain–I hadn’t thought it was possible, but I did.

As a writer, I have discovered I usually put at least a little of myself into my most of my characters. Usually, I do this unintentionally, but when I really read through and analyze, most of my characters either exhibit qualities I already have, or qualities I wish I had. Some of them might barely have any, while others might have a lot, but most of them have at least something. The biggest exceptions, however, are my villains.

I actually have somewhat of a hard time writing villains because my brain just doesn’t work in evil, twisted ways. I mean, I think the meanest thing I’ve ever wanted to do is chase somebody’s cows in a helicopter because the person was being kind of a jerk and not honoring a bargain. I decided that it would be a bad idea, not just because I had neither a helicopter, or a helicopter license, but because I would feel too sorry for the cows. They didn’t do anything to deserve that, and they would be the ones to suffer the most. That’s just the way I think. Therefore, trying to get in a bad guy’s head is completely foreign to me. I have to rely heavily on studying antagonists from other books and movies. There’s also the tiny part of me that really wants to make all the villains see the error of their ways in the end so they can live happily ever after like everybody else. I hate doing unpleasant things to my characters—even the bad ones. However, I know that wouldn’t really be very believable if I did it every time, so sometimes I have to keep the bad guy bad.

Anyhow, back to the point. These are some of my personality traits that make it really hard for me to understand my bad guys. I’m not saying I’m perfect, because I am certainly not, but the bad guys are BAD! Imperfect is not the same as bad. That is why it was one of the strangest experiences I’ve ever had when I actually discovered I have something in common with one of my bad guys. I’m not talking about something like we both like to wear the same color. I’m talking about the thing that actually drives this person to be the villain he is. I found myself in the villain! I can to the tiniest extent, understand him.

Before I go further, I have to say that my personal version of this trait isn’t nearly as strong as that of my character. It isn’t even one of my more dominant traits, and it is one I have somewhat learned to ignore or turn off when I really need to. So please, don’t decide I am a scary person who you should stay as far away from as possible because I’m not. I may have something in common with my bad guy, but it doesn’t mean I am anything like him. It doesn’t mean I think what he does is right.

So, now that I’ve told you all this stuff, it’s probably only fair if I tell you what this shared trait is. The tiny bit of me I found in my villain is the desire to be in control. There, now I’ve said it. And that is where the similarities end. Now let me tell you the difference.

I couldn’t care less about controlling other people. I like to be in control of myself. I like to be in control of my own life. I like to control how I use my time. I like to control what I surround myself with. I haven’t been one to let the whims of fashion control how I look or dress. I hated homework because I didn’t feel like I could control my free time. I didn’t let the adolescent cliques dictate who I could hang out with and who I had to shun. This is probably the biggest reason I am choosing to publish independently instead of seeking out a publishing company. I don’t want to give anybody else control over my work. I don’t mind rules and laws, and things that help make society work, but I choose to obey them because I know they are something that will help everybody. If my dishes pile up, I feel out of control and I get grumpy and irritable. If I’m running late for something, I feel a lack of control and I get uptight and panicky. I recognize there will always be things that I can’t control, and I have learned to deal with these for the most part. I can’t control the price of gas. I can’t control whether the person driving in front of me uses a blinker or not. But I can control how I react to these things, and that’s what counts.

My villain, Gallis, on the other hand, has to be in control of everything. He not only has to be in control of himself but everybody else around him as well. He controls his council, the army, and nearly everything he possibly can in the kingdom. If it were humanly possible, he would probably try to control the weather. If he starts feeling out of control in any aspect, he doesn’t just get grumpy and uptight. He gets downright nasty and pretty much homicidal. If he can’t control a particular person, he will do what he can to either bring them into submission or get them out of the way permanently. If he can’t control a community, he will not hesitate to send in an army to subdue it. He will do anything to stay in control of everything.

Part of me is surprised I didn’t notice this little connection earlier. It was probably right in front of me, but somehow I missed it until recently. Now that I have noticed, I feel oddly different about Gallis. I still don’t even come close to liking him. I still don’t know how he sleeps at night. I still don’t understand why he thinks what he does is okay, but, on a microscopic level, I kind of get how he feels at times. This is a new experience for me. It kind of makes me wonder what I have in common with other bad-guys I have written about. I kind of hope the answer is nothing, because most of them I like even less than Gallis. I guess if I do discover something, I can take it as a chance to learn something about myself and change it for the better. After all, that’s part of being in control of myself, isn’t it?

Have you ever seen a part of yourself in a villain you have either read or written about? Did it make you feel differently about the villain? Did it make you want to change?

2 Responses to “I Found Myself in the Villain–I hadn’t thought it was possible, but I did.

  • “So please, don’t decide I am a scary person who you should stay as far away from as possible because I’m not.”

    I have to say that Katymarie is definitely NOT a scary person, and she is a joy to know!

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