Recently, I read one of the best blurbs from Sir Anthony Hopkins: "I don't play villains, I play people."
I've always struggled with villains. I could never quite get into their heads. I frequently shy away from writing from the POV of any villain. Fear on my part? Yes. I always worry I'll ruin them by suddenly growing a liking for them. Which of course is a little stupid. Better villains are the ones that are close to you, mentally all up in yo' headspace.
For this blogo-post, the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour (or as a blog reader calls it "Writer Roulette") topic is to showcase one of my own villains.
Meet Dr. Conrad Frost. He's dead in the first chapter. Murdered.
In a early Victorian-era full of automatons and empaths, Dr. Frost set his sights upon the burgeoning field of psychology, testing his theories of the mind by--inventing an human-like automaton with the full range of emotions given to any true person. Raising the automaton, William, side-by-side with his son, Horatio Frost, he aims to allow his creation the time to become an adult with needs and wants and free will. To ultimately become a real person.
Before he sets out to destroy his creation's sanity, using his son as a baseline.
Though I never wrote from the POV of Dr. Frost, I very much wanted him to have a valid reason for being such a cold, calculating father figure. He's manipulative, domineering, obsessively focused on his goals, is impatient and dismissive, has ridiculously high standards, and genuinely assumes that most people are intellectually beneath him--because they frequently happen to be.
But he also genuinely loves his son, though he's unable to express it properly. He's devastated and ultimately driven in everything he does by the knowledge that his wife committed suicide due to her empathic abilities. He wants to find the key to empathic mental illness so no one will die the way his wife did. And in the course of things, he's torn between treating the automaton William like a person and true son, and continuing with his all-consuming experiment.
Dr. Frost was one of the first antagonists I tried to write while not being afraid to delve into his more sympathetic qualities, while giving him qualities that I admired. Of course, things are still in the early stages of writing, so he may not come across as dynamic as I think he does (but I love every moment he's on the page ruining things).
Anyone else have problems with less than dynamic villains? Do you love stories with villains or do you prefer stories where the main conflict-baddie is more insubstantial than one person?
This post brought to you by the Snidely Whiplash Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. Mwha-ha-ha with a dozen writers from all across the global, scheming to take over the world! Next up on the tour is Sith Lord Gilroy Cullens at Swords vs. Pens (No Light Sabers).