Thursday, February 25, 2016

When the plot hits a wall, ask your villain

It happens to most writers from time to time. The well runs dry, and you chew the end of your virtual pencil (or a real one if that's how you roll) and wonder what the hell happens next?

I came to just such a point a few days ago. Here we were, this had happened, that had happened. But what did it all MEAN? Why was it important?

So I sat myself down and summoned my villain. We'll call the villain Robin - just for fun. Why was this stuff important, I asked? What would happen if somebody else found it? Why are you doing all these horrid things?

And the answers came. I knew Robin's history. How Robin had turned up at that place at that time. What was missing. I jotted down the answers, and now I knew the rest of the plot. Mind you, I had to go back and tweak a few things as a consequence. But that's part of the joy of pantsing

Robin doesn't get a huge part in the new book. Sometimes villains don't. For instance Sauron is never actually seen in LOTR. He's just there, a looming archetype. I've been known to give the villain's point of view in some of my books, but there are dangers to that. Some readers can't seem to get their heads around the fact that you're telling THEM what the villain is doing. But the hero doesn't know that. This is when you get reviews which say things like, "Aaaargh - why would she do that? He's the baddie! She knows he's a baddy!!" But she doesn't. She doesn't like him much, but has little reason to suspect foul play. He has carefully hidden his intentions.

Sure it's up the writer to make these things clear. But if ten people 'get' it and one doesn't... I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Anyway - there we go. Progress is progressing. Next week I hope to be able to show you a cover.

In the meantime, do you like your villains up close and personal, or do you prefer a hidden force? Don't forget to share your favorite villain if you have one.

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