Constructing Evil, random thoughts on

You must have a villain, but he/she/them must be a believable villain. You can’t toss all their motivations into a bin labeled “Desire for World Domination” and expect the reader to take them seriously, unless you are writing a James Bond flick.

On the other hand, if you make your villain human and believable, readers may start rooting for them instead. In the early drafts of Matcher Rules, several of my test readers fell in love with Maxim Bari. I solved this by re-writing Max to be more selfish and manipulative, but also by adding on another villain who manipulated Max. He was after World Domination also, but he was scummy from the beginning so no one complained.

Of course, if you have a story where the evil/good is shared by the hero and the villain you may not be writing genre fiction but modern literature. This may not qualify as a fate worse than death (discuss among yourselves) but it’s not where I want to go.

One of the nice things about villains is they can start small and grow into it as they reward themselves with the spoils of their acts. Each outrage builds on the last, so by the time the hero chops them into sushi the reader can, with a whole heart, cheer from the sidelines.


In some mad urge toward upping the completed word count (as if quantity mattered over quality, am I nuts?) I melded two takes on the first section of Dog of Pell into one lumpy wodge. Since they took place in different sections of the character’s timeline, I thought it was a marvelous way to make up some time.


Trying to smooth one part into another was impossible. The tone didn’t match, so each sentence was right for its section and wrong together, not to mention the bits of backstory were doubled up and in some cases in complete conflict. So, after a few weeks of muttering, I killed the second section and returned to expanding and clarifying the first. It cut my word count down by half, oh the agony, but it was absolutely the right move.

Each time I approach a manuscript, I think to myself “oh, this one will be easy. The story will just flow out.” Well, no.

I do have a lovely new keyboard, a DAS keyboard, very retro, with that wonderful click sound, and a full set of directional and functional keys. It was an early birthday present from my husband and I love it. I hadn’t realized how much my reluctance to work on the book was related to the discomfort of typing on the spiffy but tiny and rigid Apple wireless keyboard. Clickety click click, it’s the sound of progress.