I want a villain to break my heart.
And I know, it’s something that I’ve said before but sometimes I think people forget that the villain is as important in the story as the hero is. I read a lot of books, which isn’t a huge surprise to anyone who reads this blog, and I’m not so good at the whole television and film thing. Mainly because I tend to get annoyed, especially if they’re an adaptation of a book that I particularly love.
I’ve read books and comic books or had them read to me since before I could walk. They’re comforting, like an old friend in so many ways. So sometimes, when you see them taken out of their precious book state and put on the big screen … it really does break my heart.
One of the big issues I’ll admit I have is the treatment of villains. You can have a brilliant villain in some books – and particularly comic books can be really great at this when you look back on the origins of said villain. And yet, somehow when they get onto the screen all of that is lost in translation. You just have a villain.
A villain who is evil and bad to the core and the good guy needs to defeat! And lo and behold he does – which isn’t a problem because it’s to be expected. But what about the villain? What about what’s driven them down this dark and twisted path? How did they get here, because surely they didn’t just spring into creation with a “HA! I am an evil genius and this is all I will do with my life”. Like the hero in the story, they need that trigger, that certain something that makes the switch flick and causes them to go the other way.
And honestly? Some of the most heartbreaking stories surround a well crafted out villain. Where you learn of their past, and you find yourself … almost feeling sorry for them. But even though you almost feel sorry for them, you can’t quite forgive them because despite their horrific past they’ve still done some terrible things since they’ve made that choice. But that heartbreak, should be what causes conflict, that almost makes the reader doubt if the hero is doing the right thing – or at times question who the villain actually is. And sometimes, you will find those rare stories where a villain turns out to be more of a hero than the hero is.
I’m not going to get started on my current books or even my current ‘oh my god I can’t even believe that these people touched this and ruined this book’ series/film – there are a lot of them, something Charlotte will attest to! But I’ve definitely found some new books of late where the villain of the story has taken my heart and broken it.
No, scratch that. They’ve taken my heart, torn it from my chest and trampled all over it.
But that’s the beauty of a good book isn’t it? Where you get lost with the characters, where they make you feel those things and where at the end of it you’re left wanting to throw your book at the wall because ‘god damn it! How dare you end book’.
And that’s why for me a good villain should break my heart. Because no character should ever be written in 2D or in black and white, but in shades of grey. Just because they’re a villain doesn’t mean they deserve and less credit for being who they are.
That’s me off my soap box for a week! It’s a topic I can talk about for hours, so I’ll stop before I do – and get back to our own writing! Which, hopefully with any luck will see us with characters who will be breaking hearts and tearing at emotions – at least once we’ve finished sorting them out and making sure they’re all in their proper place!