Monday, August 26, 2013

Villains in thriller SAVING MIGUEL, oh my!!!

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     In my adventure novel called Saving Miguel, there are numerous bad guys, sometimes more bad guys than the reader can count on one hand. But, some of these bad guys actually make it to a higher level on the Badness Richter Scale, they make it all the way to the level of...drum roll  please...VILLAIN!

     We all have our favorite villains from books, movies, and TV and we root for them to win or be defeated. In my opinion, the difference between a plain bad guy and a real villain is that the villain somehow makes the viewer or reader forget about the villain's dark side, even for a split second.     

     Below is a short scene I pulled from my novel Saving Miguel. In this scene, one of my characters named Mr. Stewart receives a package from a business associate. Based on what he finds, the reader should be able to determine that Stewart is not your normal kind of guy. From this short scene, is it possible to determine if Mr. Stewart is a good guy, bad guy or villain? You be the judge.

Stewart stood staring at the object. It was flesh-colored, cylindrical and small. Stewart lowered his head over the hood of his vehicle and noticed the object had a fingernail. He looked at the other end of the object and it turned out to be the bloody stump of a finger. After the initial shock, Stewart
picked the finger up and studied it. He was staring at the top two joints of a very small finger, still warm from the bubble wrap. This Ahmed character is one nasty bloke! Stewart thought, smiling at the discovery.  
Stewart set the finger down on the bubble wrap and peered into the manila envelope to ensure he had gotten everything out. Near the bottom of the manila envelope was a small piece of paper that Stewart pulled out. Written in a childish scrawl on the paper was the following; a sampel 4 DnA or figerprint. Stewart studied the clouds in the sky while regaining his composure. He then carefully wrapped the finger up into the bubble wrap and placed it in the envelope.  

     So what do you think? Is Stewart a good guy, bad guy or villain? You will have to read Saving Miguel to find out the answer if you don't already know. 
     So, what makes a memorable villain? What is the difference between a bad guy and a villain? I am sure everyone has a different opinion, but there have to be some common factors? I have listed a few factors that I believe influence a character to be categorized as a villain versus just an ordinary bad guy. 

1.      A redeeming quality or characteristic that allows the reader or viewer to ignore or overlook the atrocious behavior the person is demonstrating. This redeeming characteristic can be charm, a good sense of humor, being a good parent or something else that distracts us from the bad behavior.  One of my favorite villains of all time was Tony Soprano. The dark side of him was a murderer, philanderer, major criminal, and sociopath. But, underneath this harsh sociopath was a little boy who could be charming and persuasive. After all, his seedy behavior was his mother's fault or that's what he leads you to believe in the show! Tony was the life of the barbeque when he was on his best behavior and when he wasn' out.

Tony Soprano - Villain or bad guy?


2.      Intelligence. The stereotypical bad guy usually does not have much in the old intelligence  department. They commit crimes until their stupidity catches up with them and then they are caught. It is hard to emotionally connect to these 'bad guys', but add a personality, some intelligence or a high IQ and that bad guy becomes a villain. Let me use Dr. Hannibal Lecter as an example. He was a serial killer and cannibal who once said, "A census taker once tried to test me. I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice chianti." Even though he was a psychotic killer, some people actually emotionally connected with Hannibal the Cannibal, including young Clarice Starling, the FBI agent who became his confidant. Without his intelligence, Hannibal Lecter was just another run-of-the-mill serial killer. With his intelligence, Hannibal Lecter became interesting, someone to converse with about art or wine, as long as he was on the opposite side of the shatterproof glass.
Hannibal Lecter - Villain or bad guy? 

3.      Moral compass off kilter. This is one characteristic shared by both bad guys and villains. They are missing a moral compass. These people do not know the difference between right or wrong, or maybe they don't care if their deed is right or wrong. Where there is no guilt, there are no qualms.

4.      Believable. The character cannot be too far over the top. Extreme examples on both sides of the 'villain bell curve' will not be believable to the reader or viewer. They have to be bad enough to be a threat but not so bad that the character moves from believable to fantasy. 
Walter White - Villain or bad guy?

Check out the bad guys and villains in Saving Miguel and then drop me a note. Tell me what you liked about them, what you didn't like about them, and whether they are villains or merely just bad guys. While you are at it, Click to order another of my book, Light Hidden by Darkness, you can take a another trip without leaving the farm! ;).  
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