How To Write Villains

As I begin to edit a novel I’ve left alone for a few months, I’ve been thinking about my villainous characters a lot. See, there are more than I expected and they are all there at different points in the story for different reasons. There’s no way I could merge three into one.

Let’s introduce you to the cast.

There’s Captain Goldsworth, notorious pirate and all round bad man. I know it, he knows it, everyone knows it. He doesn’t try to hide it.

There’s Anabe, a member of royalty, whose time as a villain is all about misplaced anger and grief rather than about her being a bad person.

Then there’s Captain X. Seriously, I mark his name with an X because I don’t know what it is yet. This guy is a snake in the grass. He’s a functioning member of polite society, in the Navy and I didn’t see that he was a greedy, traitorous son of a B until it was too late.

Three villains, all very different from one another. It all boils down to the motivations behind their characters.

Goldsworth is ruled by his need to revenge on the protagonist. He’s a typical bully.

Anabes’ motives are mixed up in her emotions. She confuses justice and revenge for a large portion of the book, though she really comes into her own towards the end of the story.

Captain X is ruled by greed and power. Like many a worker bee, he doesn’t feel valued and it’s turned him bitter. When he sees a chance, he grabs it, regardless of the consequence on others.

With these three characters coming from vastly different backgrounds, having different pasts and different characters arcs, it’s fun to see how each villain stands up against each other. Goldsworth could never come back, but Anabe has positive character growth. Captain X? The potential is there, but I don’t think he wants to join polite society again. We’ll see after several rounds of editing.

So, how can you write great villains yourself?

1. Write without apology.

There’s no pressure for anyone to like these guys. Make them as horrible as you like. Everything can be changed when you edit if you really don’t like something, but give them time to blossom of their own accord first. This goes for all characters.

2. Use the 7 deadly sins.

Honestly, the 7 sins and virtues are my go to when searching for character motivations. I always give a character one of the 7 sins, whoever they are. Think outside the box with them, too. Greed doesn’t always mean they’ll eat everything in sight. Greed could mean they want lots of money or fame or power. The same goes for the other sins. Take a few minutes to really dig into them and see what unexpected angle you can take from them.

3. Choose the villain after you’ve written the story.

While rereading, I realized that all three characters played the bad guy. Since I went into the story without clearly defining everyone’s roles (or even knowing all my characters), I just went with the flow. Now, while editing, I can strengthen each character based on what I discovered about them through the inital drafting phase. Of course, this ties into letting them blossom of their own accord first.

My ultimate writing tip is just to be as creative as you want to with the first draft of anything. Push the plot and the characters to the limits of your imagination and let the story be born as naturally as possible. You can clear up the mess later.

What My OTPs Taught Me To Look For In Relationships

As any self respecting fan girl would, I have multiple OTPs (or One True Parings). I see it as ‘an OTP per show/book/film/etc’ rather than a hard and fast rule that only one coupling can be the ultimate romance.
Regardless of the amount of OTPs I’ve collected through the seasons and trilogies, there’s some things that they all have in common. The similarities between them all make the ultimate life of what to look for in any relationship, romantic or otherwise.
1) Slow burn.
It’s frustrating and wonderfully at the same time when there’s two people perfect for each other and nothing happens between them. When there’s a solid foundation to build romance on later, the story is much sweeter. This is true of fiction and real life. Half the fun is taking the time to get to know a person. There’s no need to hurry.
In the novel I’m currently working on, two characters are taking their sweet time to get together. As frustrating as it is, it’s great to see them blossom in each others company. It’s even more rewarding to realize it’s their doing and not because I pushed them together at the start.
2) Endlessly supporting one another.
Even when they seem to dislike one another, my OTPs tend to have each others back at every point – through life and death; hopes and dreams; and everything in between. Even when they aren’t in complete agreement, they still completely support the other person. Even when it’s not their dream, they still fight for it.
My partner doesn’t want to be an author himself, but he fully supports my ambition to become one and encourages me to work towards it.
3) Calling each other out on their crap.
When you love someone, romantically or platonically, you have the unique privilege of being allowed to tell them when they’re messing up/being a horrible person/acting irrationally. It’s a thin line to walk – supporting each other continuously, calling each other out on their crap? Supporting them doesn’t mean supporting something you don’t agree with.
4) Adventure.
Just by it’s very nature, fictional relationships tend to be more adventurous than your average relationship seems to be. It doesn’t have to be that way, though. Maybe you and your partner don’t have a grand quest to undertake, but you can still move to the other side of the world together or visit an adventure park. On a tight budget? Go somewhere new to eat next time you’re out or stream a movie unlike anything you’d usually go for!
To bring adventure to your relationship, you don’t need to live in a YA fantasy. You just need to remove yourself from your everyday routine once in a while.
5) They get each other.
Or at least, they’re empathetic towards each other. You may get someones humor or sarcasm, but if they’ve been through a tragedy unlike anything in your life, then empathizing with them is the best you can do.
These are all things my OTPs have in common and that I strive for in my own relationships. If I had to pick an ultimate OTP, I’d probably pick the AI Lovey and the engineer from Becky Chambers ‘A Long Way To A Small Angry Planet’.
Who are your OTPs and what do you admire about them?

Level 10 Life

I approach everything in one of two ways – obsessively or not at all. Writing, fitness, gaming…
If I’m not all in, I’m not doing it at all.
Contradictory to my all in attitude, I’m beginning to realize there’s a need for balance too.
Enter the level 10 life concept.
I first discovered the level 10 life concept through the bullet journaling community, but that’s not necessarily it’s origin. Creating your level 10 life begins with measuring your levels of satisfaction in different areas of your life and taking steps to improve it.
Areas of focus include family, career and health.
Goals towards improving the familial area of your life could be as simple as attending more family gatherings.
When it comes to making resolutions, keeping your level 10 life in mind can help you remain focused on what’s important to you.
What steps are you going to take towards your level 10 life?