Monday, May 16, 2011

Character development: the enemy, part 2

My first post got a bit rambly, so to recap:

1. Enemies need motivation, goals and dedication just like heroes
2. Fumbling, arbitrary or incompetent enemies bring no tension to the story
    This weekend I happened to see Thor (blond beefcake, mmm) and was pleasantly surprised by the movie's handling of Loki as the enemy. No fumbling. No cutesy joking around. No unjustified venom or using "he's just evil" as an excuse. On top of that, kudos to Tom Hiddleston for looking tragic and yummy opposite the rather dauntingly delicious Chris Hemsworth. I especially appreciated how Loki did not explain himself at any point and remained cryptic and ambiguous to the end of the movie.

    I should hope to do so well in my WIP.

    Enemies come in all shapes and sizes, and I wanted to address situations in which the character is his own enemy. This could be a story where a character struggles to overcome substance abuse or any internal problem, really. Man vs. his inner demons. My WIP has one of these: Tanner Sheppard.

    It's something new, for me, and on the unexpected side. I guess the challenges Maggie presented me (being a very different personality from me) weren't enough, or something. Now my brain wants to talk about someone who is much more like me, in some ways, but take him on a journey I... haven't necessarily taken myself.

    I've been trying to write this post for the better part of a week now, without much luck. It might be getting a little too personal. Not ready to post about it yet. :)

    Anycase, the rules above still apply. Inner demons have their own motivations and goals -- self-destructive demons, as in substance abuse, usually intend to numb psychic or physical pain. Depression involves a need for "safety" from the horrible world and, at the same time, separating your horrible self from the world. Well, that's how it has seemed to me in any case.

    Tanner's demons aren't the same as mine, but if he can face them it will be good for me, too. Though he came along unexpectedly, he's done for my WIP what Ping did for his story -- put an engine in it. Gave me the drive to write it. Along the way, Maggie will still be developing her leadership qualities and challenging me to stretch my brain. The rest of the cast have an assortment of lesser worries that I sympathize with.

    Writing as self-therapy. It's the journey, not the destination. :)


    David Powers King said...

    Couldn't agree more! I particularity love to write in the villain's POV, while at the same time not giving too much away in the narrative. On top of it all, the best villains do what they think is right. That's their motivation.

    Libby said...

    Inner demons are way harder to write, but more satisfying to read sometimes.

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