I was stuck. The big hole in the WIP was the motivation of the villain, his goal, why that goal, and what exactly he wanted to accomplish. Was he a thief, a con man, an assassin, an anarchist? Working alone? Betraying his companions? Masterminding a devious scheme?
I did some research into villainous motivations when my muse decided to take a three-hour lunch without me. I found an article by Janice Hardy at Fiction University about Michael Hague's description of inner conflict and the intersection with the plot. I'd never heard of him, but the descriptions gave me a better exercise for re-thinking this character.
I made a summary, below, to help me work through the character. It was so useful that I tried it on several minor characters, who do have their own stories, and it gives me a better insight into how and why they get in the protagonist's way even when trying to help.
Hague's basic inner conflict arc:
1. Longing or Need: The thing the character needs emotionally: inner goal
2. Wound: A hurt that is a current, unhealed source of pain: backstory
3. Belief: What the character believes due to the wound: worldview
4. Fear: fear of experiencing that wound pain again: stakes
5. Identity: emotional armor, protection from the pain: fake persona
6. Essence: What lies under all the emotional armor: true self.
The acceptance of the essence is often what allows them to figure out the plot piece they need to win in the climax, so this is closely linked to the plot arc:
a. Inciting event: first failure establish identity
b. Act one climax PP1: second failure, a hint of the essence is revealed
c. Mid-point reversal: first attempt to live in the essence, doesn’t go well, but the essence is seen and realized
d. Act two climax PP2: fear of failure makes protagonist run from their essence instead trying to embrace it like they did at the mid-point
e. Climax: The protagonist digs deep, embraces her essence, and wins. The antagonist, however, loses because she refuses to risk that vulnerability.
Finding the villain/antagonist's motivations and goals drives the plot, especially when the story is summarized from her point of view. She has her goals, needs and wounds; she is the protagonist of her story, and your main character blocks her success.
In the Star Wars epic, for example, starting with Part IV, we don't know what Darth Vader's part is, other than "For the Evulz," but he drives the plot, forcing Luke to grow. The longer epic, at least until part VI, shows his descent to the dark side and his redemption. Luke, not so much.
A danger in this, of course, is that the villain may be more interesting than the protagonist. Consider what your protagonist would do in the villain's place, given the same goal.
About Charlotte Henley Babb
Charlotte Henley Babb works as a web designer and college writing instructor in Spartanburg, SC. She brings to any project a number of experiences, including work as a technical writer, gasket inspector, cloth store associate, girl Friday, and telephone psychic. Having big feet, gray hair, and a mischievous twinkle in her eye, Charlotte Henley Babb writes fractured fairy tales, steampunk adventures and science fiction.
Her first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, was released in 2012 and won 2014 Sharp Writ Book Awards for Sci-fi/Fantasy and an honorable mention in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women communications contest for adult novels.
A dead cellphone calls with a job offer and a promise of dragons.
Down and out, Maven Morrigan is ready to give up what's left of her self-esteem for a cup of coffee when her last chance to redeem her life comes as a job offer to be a fairy godmother. But Faery is shrinking, the other fairy godmothers have disappeared, and nothing she does turns out right. How can she put together the happily ever after each of her clients wants with her boss standing in her way?
Maven Fairy Godmother: Through The Veil is fast, fun read that shows that none of us is ever old enough to know better as we try to wish for we think what will make us happy.
20 Hours to Charles Town
To be released in late Spring 2015
Madame Elvira O’Sullivan runs the highest class brothel in the air on her ship Freya’s Cloak. She intends to extend her business interests and influence by hosting a secret meeting of North American colonial ambassadors as they discuss the recognition of the nation of Texas. Transcontinental war hangs in the balance as her secret has leaked. She must protect her clients, her women, her crew, and the ambassadors from a rogue operative, his handlers, her allies, and an anarchist.
Short Fiction by Charlotte Henley Babb
Just a Smidgen of Magic: http://bit.ly/Smidgen
Five short-short stories from the edge of the realm of magic--enchanted moments, realizations, answering the call, and returning to the mundane.
Maven's Fractured Fairy Tales: http://bit.ly/eMFFT
Maven fractures three fairy tales: Rumplestiltskin, the Frog Prince, and Beauty and the Beast--short, twisted, and Maven-esque all the way.
Walking Off Heaven's Shore: http://bit.ly/WalkShore
A 10-piece bucket of southern-fried flash fiction, red mud, and sweet tea.
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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