Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Villains & Heroes – Gotta Love ‘em.


Morgan Mandel, author of the newly released KILLER CAREER, joins us today as my guest blogger. Morgan says she enjoys variety both as a reader and a writer. Her past works include GIRL OF MY DREAMS, a romantic comedy about the misadventures of a reality show contestant, and TWO WRONGS, a romantic suspense involving wrongful imprisonment. Because romance quite often goes hand in hand with murder, Morgan joined both RWA and MWA when she began her writing career. She is a past President of Chicago-North RWA, presently serves as Library Liaison for MWMWA, and belongs to Sisters in Crime and EPIC.

And now, without further ado, here's Morgan!

Villains & Heroes – Gotta Love ‘em.

I love villains, don’t you? The more outrageous they are, the more intriguing they seem. They get away with stuff normal people can’t do. They kill, maim and destroy people, animals, even inanimate objects. We expect that of them.

That’s not all we expect. We want to know why the villain is bad. We need some kind of hint or reason, even if it’s flimsy, to make the bad guy more human. It could be a horrible childhood, a cheating spouse, an incurable disease, getting fired from a job, anything that could drive someone over the edge.

In Killer Career, the villain kills someone by throwing a rock at the back of her head. From my clues, readers should be able to deduce the reason behind the murder. At other points of the book, I slip in hints and flashbacks to explain the villain’s thinking. Yes, his thought processes are twisted, but at least the readers have something to grasp onto. That’s important. The more readers can bond in any way, even with a bad guy, the more satisfying the book will be.

So, even when villains are bad, we can still find ways to like them. What about heroes?

There’s so much to like about them. They look like we’d like to look. They do what we wish we could do. They’re clever and strong in mind and body. Despite tremendous odds, they come through and do the right thing. If only we could be like them.

But, let’s face it, nobody likes someone who’s too perfect. So, make sure to throw in a weakness or two to make your hero or heroine more human like the rest of us. It could be a quirky imperfection, like unruly hair or freckles, or a major one, like a physical or mental illness.

In Killer Career, the heroine has claustrophobia. The hero has a jealous streak. I gave good reasons for their thoughts and behavior, so readers could sympathize with them. That didn’t let my hero and heroine off the hook. Readers expect the good guys to rise above their weaknesses and do the right thing. I’ll let you guess how it all turns out.

What about you? Do you like to write or read about villains or heroes both, or maybe you like one more than the other? What tricks do you use to make them more human? Please share with us.

PS. Mary, thanks for hosting me at the first stop of my Killer Career Blog Book Tour!

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And thanks to you for joining us here today, Morgan!

For more information about Morgan and her books, please visit her website, www.morganmandel.com, her daily blog, http://morganmandel.blogspot.com, or any of her group blogs at http://acmeauthorslink.blogspot.com, http://makeminemystery.blogspot.com, and http://bloodredpencil.blogspot.com. You’re also invited to join Morgan’s Ning site, at http://bookplace.ning.com

24 comments:

  1. I like reading about and understanding both the antagonist and the protagonist. As a reader, if you can identify with them (even in some way with the bad guy), you become more invested in the book.

    In Killer Career, Morgan does a good job of taking us into the heads of both.

    Helen
    Straight From Hel

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  2. I had just as much fun developing my villain (and his girlfriend partner-in-crime) as I did the protagonist. You've got to have a villain people love to hate. Deception, betrayal on the highest level, a real greedy SOB.

    I even gave my villain some very good reasons and motivation as to why he was doing the things he did. Problem is, he's murdering lots of people. He's right in many ways, unfortunately for society, he's a real killer.

    Great blog. Always like to hear what you have to say. Best wishes for your success.

    Stephen Tremp
    http://stephentremp.blogspot.com/

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  3. What a great post, Morgan! I can't wait to read Killer Career! I'm trying to finish up the ebook that I am reading now as quickly as I can, so that I can get to it! lol I'm so excited about your tour!!

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  4. It is fun writing about villains. I know actors and actresses often prefer villain roles, since people tend to remember a really good villain.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com
    http://www.morganmandel.com

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  5. I forgot to say, Morgan's next stop is 8/16 at http://booklandheights.blogspot.com (Bookland Heights) hosted by Mary Cunningham.

    Best wishes for much success with the book, Morgan!

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  6. The anti hero can be fun to read too, less handsome and charming but can be more interesting sometimes than a straight hero.

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  7. As a former actress, playing the villains is usually more fun 'cause they're written to be more interesting than the hero or heroine. There have been exceptions to that rule (Ripley), but I love being bad... On film. Or on paper. Not in real life.

    Fun post, Morgan, and what a great way to start off your tour!

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  8. Very good kick off to a tour! Loved the feature post, and totally agree with this-

    "nobody likes someone who’s too perfect. So, make sure to throw in a weakness or two to make your hero or heroine more human like the rest of us"

    So true dat.

    Marvin D Wilson

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  9. Good stuff, Morgan! I've just never written an all-out villian before. Someone who's on the negative side of things & difficult yes, but not a 'bad guy' per se. I think that takes some talent to come up with a good villian!

    L. Diane Wolfe “Spunk On A Stick”
    www.circleoffriendsbooks.blogspot.com
    www.spunkonastick.net
    www.thecircleoffriends.net

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  10. Someone told me once that you need to make the villain worthy of the hero or heroine. It's no fun if the villain is an easy mark or really dumb. It takes the suspense away.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  11. Good stuff, Morgan. My first villain was a real nasty. The third wasn't too nice, either. But the others have a fair amount of good with the bad.

    Chester Campbell

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  12. So true, characters who are flawless are boring. The good guys and bad, need to have flaws and idiosyncrasies because that’s what makes them real to the reader.

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  13. Morgan, Your book sounds great! It must be fun to create a villain!

    Heidi

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  14. Morgan:
    I like that you don't make it too easy for your heroine. I don't like it when a writer makes their characters so perfect they don't seem real. Flaws are great to incorporate into your story - so your hero can grow - glad you went with "real people!"
    good luck on your tour!!!
    DL Larson

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  15. Thanks to everyone who came over today to read my post. I also want to thank anyone who posted a comment here, as well as at my own blogspot.

    Special thanks to Mary Welk for hosting me today. I had great fun.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  16. My next stop will be on August 16 at http://booklandheights.blogspot.com. I hope to see some of you there.

    All the best,
    Morgan Mandel

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  17. There was a really bad villain in a story who finally fell in love with one of the nice girls. They both died in the end, very sad, but at least he's not as bad towards the end, because he found love.

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  18. Morgan, I cheer you on with your blog tour. All the best and may you see a huge rise in sales.

    Marilyn
    http://fictionforyou.com

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  19. Great tour launch! Interesting read. But then, you are always an interesting read. Book sounds wonderful! Will stop in at Bookland Heights for your next stop.

    I'm on tour myself-last stop is tomorrow!

    Pam
    http://beaconstreetbooks.com

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  20. I totally agree that both heroes and villains should be rounded out and "humanised" by incorporating positive and negative characteristics in both. Villains who are "pure evil" are too hard to understand, and heroes who are too good are boring.

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  21. Lots of fun tours going on lately. Blog book tours are gaining in popularity. So far, I'm having lots of fun, so I can see why.

    Thanks for keeping me on here a bit longer, Mary.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  22. I love to hate the villains and love to love the heros!! LOL Your villain sounds intriguing! Your comments are making me interested in the book! Best wishes on your release!!

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  23. Catching up with your tour late, Morgan, but at least I'm connecting. :-) Good points about the characterization not being one-sided. Sometimes we forget.

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  24. I think hating villains is a good catharsis, but it helps to remember people are not all bad or all good. We can apply that to daily life. It's easy to forget sometimes.

    Morgan Mandel

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