Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Creating a Good Villain

     In creating romantic suspense the "bad guy" is just as important, if not more important, than the hero and heroine. He must be a "real" person with legitimate motives and his own back story; otherwise, you end up writing a melodrama with stock characters like Dudley Do-right and Snidely Whiplash.
     In my suspense romance Hiding, available at www.thewildrosepress.com, I gave a lot of thought to my stalker, Alex Sinclair. When Alex was a child his father deserted his mother, and Alex has pent up anger over the abandonment. His fascination with knives is symbolic of his father's action in cutting off his family. Alex is insecure and easily becomes jealous. He hates to look foolish in front of other males.
     At first, he is a strong shoulder to lean on, an excellent financial advisor and friend to the heroine, Teresa, who has lost her father after a long struggle with cancer. Her mother died when Teresa was a child, and her father's medical bills have left her almost destitute. Fortunately, she has a college education and rare artistic talent. Alex goes out of his way to help her, even lending her money, but he finds her desire to establish independence threatening. When he strikes her in anger, she flees to Paris with the last of her savings, hoping to leave his over possessiveness behind. But eventually, he tracks her down.
     A "good villain"? Oxymoron? No. In creating a believable monster who genuinely thinks he has been wronged, an author cranks up the suspense. Breath bated, the reader forges ahead as this legitimately off-balanced person commits acts of increasing atrocity. Like the narrator in Poe's "The Tell Tale Heart," who keeps insisting that he is perfectly sane, the reader sees and fears the psychosis.

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