Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Villain of the Piece

So, I'm trying to put together the plot of my book - outline of story, characters, their motivations etc.

While I'm not anywhere near certain about all of this, the process has made me much more aware of the importance of the bad guys in a story. They are, after all, usually the cause of all the hero's problems, and create the all-important conflict.

And watching the new Sherlock Holmes movie the other day made me aware of how important villainous markers are.

The epiphany came right at the start. Holmes and the new improved, beefed-up Dr. Watson are racing against time to prevent the ritual killing of a pretty young thing by -- a man whose face is shadowed by a hood, all except his wonky front teeth. The lingering close-up on his crooked not-so-pearly whites tells all the viewer needs to know. This guy is a bad guy and he's going to cause trouble for the rest of the movie (why distinguish him by his crooked teeth if you're not going to show them again and again?).

It's not subtle, but it works, and it made me realise I need to focus a bit more on my own villain and leave the good guys be for a while. I had no clear idea of what my villain looks like, or even of his motivations beyond just being a bit of a bastard. But it's so important that he's a rounded, convincing character, and a worthy foil to my heroine. I'm also thinking a scar down his right cheek and a wall-eye. Or is that going a bit far?


  1. good people have their scars on their foreheads, so one on the cheek is perfectly acceptable to denote a bad sort

  2. "..a scar down his right cheek and a wall-eye."


    oh it's so funny when in a movie, the music suddenly changes to "da - da -daaaaaaa" - all portentous - when the baddie is shown so you are in no doubt he's the baddie.

    Oh and the villain must always wear black.


    I really really want to see Sherlock Holmes now.

    Take care


  3. "a rounded, convincing character and a worthy foil for my heroine" are ON THE RIGHT TRACK!

  4. Of course, I'd forgotten all about Harry Potter and his forehead scar. That's a good one: not disfiguring, but distinguishing.
    Old Kitty - Sherlock Holmes movie is not quite the same as the books, but a lot of fun!
    KarenG - Thanks!