Thursday, March 15, 2012

Villains and POV

Villains are always very fun to write. They are even more fun to write from their point of view.  That was something I missed getting to do, to a degree, in Holver Alley Crew and Maradaine Constabulary.  Spending time in the villains' heads just wouldn't have worked for those two books.  But I did it in spades in Thorn of Dentonhill, because I wanted to show first-hand how Veranix was getting under Fenmere's skin.  Of course, with Thorn, since I had many different villains going on, even with them all tying back to Fenmere, I had plenty of people I could still keep mysterious and stay out of their heads.

But Fenmere?  Him I had to get in there.  Him I had to show what it meant to be a man of power, who was feeling that power eroding away because of some punk kid with a bow and some magic.  Eventually, Fenmere, sick of the failure around him, has to take steps:

             Fenmere’s parlor was once again sullied by the presence of the Blue Hand Circle. This was becoming all too common, and Fenmere was troubled with how comfortable they made themselves in his home. He took solace in one small fact: their presence meant that they had failed. He drew every ounce of satisfaction out of it that was possible.
            “So you’ve come back,” he said as he bit into a plum. He had given his staff explicit instructions not to offer or deliver food to any of the Blue Hand on this visit. All four of them eyed the plum in his hands like dogs being kept out in the yard, denied entry to the kitchen. They sat on one side of the parlor, all on the couch save Kent, who paced back and forth behind them. Fenmere had long known how to tame dogs and spot which one most needed the whip.
            At this meeting, the whip was his authority, giving these mages a show of strength. He sat in his favorite chair, giving more of his attention to the plum in his hand than his guests. Gerrick and Corman stood behind his chair. Nevin and Samael both sat in a far corner by the fireplace; Nevin sharpened knives while Samael put together a new crossbow. Bell and a few more heavies stood by the door.
            Fenmere ignored all sense of propriety and let the juice of the plum drip down his chin.
            “We were ejected from the campus before we found the goods,” Kalas said.
            “And so you come back to me, hat in hand,” Fenmere said, wiping the juice with his sleeve. He looked over at the Blue Hand as they stewed in anger and naked hunger. “Why, Kalas. You’re still wearing your hat.”
            “What’s this, Fenmere?” Kalas sneered.
            “I said you are coming to me hat in hand, and yet you still wear your hat. You are sitting in my parlor with your hat on.” He stared hard at Kalas, taking a savage bite into the plum.
            “Fenmere, we have--” was all Kalas got out. Fenmere pelted him in the face with the plum as hard as he could. Kalas may be able to turn him into a potato, but that felt good.
            “Do you see anyone else in here with a blasted hat on, Mister Kalas? No, by blazes, because it isn’t done! You come into my blazing house, you rutting well better take your blasted hat off and hold it in your blasted hand!”
            With slow, simmering deliberateness, Kalas took off his hat and held it in his lap with one hand. With his other, he wiped remnants of plum off his face and licked them from his fingers.
 Now writing Way of the Shield, I'm back to a piece where I can write the villains in their own head.  And these guys are righteous in their beliefs.  They are passionate and fervent in their convictions that they are doing the right thing, they are breaking the eggs that need to be broken to make the most important omelet ever.

They're a lot of fun to write.


Daniel Fawcett said...

Of course it would also be nice to get the tale entirely from the villain's (or villains') POV. I've often toyed with the idea of cranking out a formulaic fantasy novel, and then writing the same book from the Evil Dark Lord's POV.

One thing I've always thought you had a nice touch with was making the villains real people with actual motivations that make sense. I really never understood why most of the Dark Lord figures in fantasy do what they do.

"Once we have the Mystic Sword of Feld'oro and the Seven Magic Emeralds of Fentoozler, we can destroy the world!"

"Excellent, Master... wait a tic. Destroy the world, you say?"

"Of course, Scuzzwig, my loyal servant."

"Won't that destroy us, too?"

"It... well... I... Just fetch me the vial of dragon's blood and the lock of virgin's hair, okay?"

Marshall Ryan Maresca said...

I just recently heard about a story where the main character is the defeated Dark Lord, 20 years later, now essentially retired with a family, who realizes that some bad stuff is going down and he's the only one who can step up and take care of it.

Also, if, for example, the folks at DC or Marvel ever wanted me to do something for them, I'd love to do a limited series where some Big Huge Thing was going to destroy the Earth, but because various heroes were all tied up, a group of Villains would have to step up and Save The World.