Why, yes, I suppose I am – Severus Snape

Hero or Villain? The argument still rages on in certain circles where geeks have too much coffee or beer and need something to do late into the night. Snape may have been JK Rowlings’ greatest creation. I don’t want to launch a debate on that. But I do want to look at what I heard at Norwescon’s panel on balancing your characters so that each hero is a bit of a villain and each villain is a bit of a hero, complex and completes human beings on the page.

First, how to make your villain closer to grey:

-Give your villain some of your own characteristics, so you are sympathetic to them. It will translate in to your writing.

-Use a traumatic experience from your own past to build some back story for your villain.

-Look closely at the people you love, what are their bad habits?

-People love scoundrels and villains because they do what we wish we could do and they have fun doing it.

The one point about villains that really grabbed me, FEW people think what they are doing is evil. The villain of your novel is really the hero in his own mind. Write a scene from the villain’s point of view to grasp what is lovable and human about your villain and to see what flaws your hero actually has.


-If you are convincing enough with the flaws in your hero, you will push buttons in your readers. But that might be the goal of your work.

-Flaws give room for growth in your characters.

-Their flaws should impact the story.

When sitting down to get to know your characters be sure to include their most appealing and least appealing traits. What’s that you say? You don’t have coffee with each character before you start writing your work? shaking head. You should know how each main character would behave in any situation, even the ones you don’t plan to include in your plot. Nanowrimo has a questionnaire to help, http://blog.nanowrimo.org/post/61118193819/nano-prep-the-official-nanowrimo-character

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