So when I began writing this post I actually felt rather unmotivated to write about motivation. Motivation can be a fickle thing. Because, you see, when it occurred to me that I wasn’t motivated to write about motivation, I found it so amusing that it motivated me to write about motivation. That’s how motivation sometimes works.
At first I began writing about what motivates me to write and then I decided that was a rather boring topic. I’d rather talk about characters and what motivates a good villain!
I love villains. Probably because sometimes, when you really explore a villain, they don’t seem so villainous after all. My favorite villain from my own work is Morvack from the Sorcerers’ Twilight Series. He has such emotional dimension and depth that in several instances, you could almost see how he became villainous and you feel bad for him. This kind of reminds me of the Malfoy’s in the Harry Potter series. Throughout the books you hate them, then at the end, just when you think you’re going to love watching them die, you realize they were simply terrified victims in the entire situation and you can’t help but feel sorry for them. Why? Because it’s rather easy to empathize with being afraid and doing something bad to save the people you love, even when there are consequences on the other side of that.
In some instances you have to wonder if it’s the villain who grew the most by the end of the story because in some cases he is the one most changed by the events of the story.
Realistic motivations can be a pickle when writing fiction. Especially with villains, it’s important that the motivations are somewhat realistic. I mean – so the bad guy wants to take over the world (for example). To what end? If he succeeds, then what?
I don’t know about you, but if I was that delusional that I was going to take over the world, I’d be more apt to claim my motivation was to make the world a better place rather than to plunge it into darkness to bring about despair. Who wants to live in a world of despair? Unless your bad guy is a sadist. Not all bad guys are. Some really think their intentions, their motivations, are both righteous and just and have no idea that it might actually be hurting others.
I think those are the scarier villains by far because they really think they’re doing a good thing.
Perhaps the villain started out evil and antagonistic, but by the story’s conclusion, has become the hero. This is certainly the case in the movie Megamind where the villain is forced to face his motivations head on, and ends up choosing the side of right in the end.
So how do I cultivate character motivation whether it be good guy/gal or bad guy/gal? I try to empathize. Sometimes I’ll do character interviews. Other times I’ll simply ask myself, “If I were going to [insert villainous or positive action here], why would I do it?” Sometimes just asking oneself “Why?” is enough.
From your POV as a writer or reader, what makes a good villain? Who is your favorite villain and why? It’s food for thought.
About The FM Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour
Today’s post was inspired by the topic Motivation. This month’s topic in the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour, an ongoing tour where you, the reader, travel around the world from author’s blog to author’s blog. We have all sorts of writers at all stages in their writing career, so there’s something for everyone to enjoy.
If you want to get to know nearly twenty other writers and read their thoughts on motivation, check out the Merry-Go-Round Blog Tour. I blog with this tour the 25th of every month.