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Tuesday, August 7, 2012

The Mysterious Bad Guy

I’m not one to give up on a story. Sure, I have a bunch of unfinished stories that call to me from time to time, but I’ll get back to them. I swear. Eventually. But I don’t think my current work in progress (book one of a planned trilogy) needs to be abandoned just yet. I may be able to save it.

I understand my point of view character. The main characters are all well known to me. I even have a handle on the big bad guy (he’s evil in an if-you-cross-me-I’ll-have-you-killed sort of way).

However, the big bad guy doesn’t have a huge role in book one. He’s there, but he’s influencing things from afar. The main antagonist for book one is a wizard, and he’s a mystery to me.

I think my main problem is that this wizard doesn’t have a lot of scenes “on screen”. But his machinations in the background set the whole plot in motion. I have to know who he is and what he’s about.

You’d think I would have already figured this out. Sigh.

Are your bad guys “on screen” a lot? Or do they influence things from the background?

16 comments:

Tracy said...

Hi Liz,

Like you, I have "varying degrees" of bad guys. One of my "lesser bads" shows up more often than the others. The next step up on the evil level has even less of "on screen" time - but they (think minions) are crucial to the foundation of the story. The "big bad" - well, let's just say I'm laying the foundation for a sequel. :) The plan is to create tension now - so readers will want more after the last page in the series.

mshatch said...

I think the main characters all need to be fleshed out and have real backstories - and this definitely includes the main bad guy(s). What's his motivation? What are his strengths/weaknesses? Whoever or whatever the enemy is it has to feel as real as the mc in order for the story to be believable - imo.

Lisa Regan said...

In my first book my bad guy is there but you never get inside his head. The second book, he has his own chapters. That was a lot more fun but a lot more challenging to write. I go back and forth. I feel like in real life good people can never really understand why people do evil things and so in writing some distance from the mind of a bad guy is appropriate. On the other hand, sometimes it helps people to understand why people do evil things if a writer can put them right inside his or her mind. I think either way has its advantages and disadvantages. I guess it's all in the execution.

Ink in the Book said...

I have both in my manuscript. The bad guy has a bad guy who controls the bad people.You get a good look at the bad guy, but *THE* bad guy works behind the scenes.
Wow. My explanation is something less to be desired!

JRuud said...

For my first novel, my bad guy is off screen a lot, yet what he's done, and will do centers around the story a lot. Lets just say people take care of "his" work for now ;)

Great blog!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I write my fantasy in series and I often use the bad guy in book one is bad, but he's not the head bad guy, just a front man.

stu said...

For me, if you have a big baddie influencing things from the background, then having a second bad guy who influences things from the background could be a little problematic. Rather than someone in his own right, he could easily become just a pale imitation of the real baddy.

Liz said...

That sounds interesting. I can't wait to read it.

Liz said...

Once I figured out that this bad guy was cardboard, I knew where my story problem was.

Liz said...

Good point. Who wants to know what the truly dark are thinking?

Liz said...

That makes perfect sense.

Liz said...

That sounds a bit like my puppet master.

Liz said...

So they get worse the further into the series you get?

Liz said...

Yes, good point. One of the baddies has to be more "on screen" then.

JEFritz said...

I think you're right about being on screen. It would certainly make my bad guys more intimidating. It's my own fault for always making multiple antagonists.

Liz said...

There's nothing wrong with multiple antagonists. I think it makes a story stronger.