I know. Villainize isn’t a word. Stay with me on this.

The other day I was conjuring a story based on my own wishes to find a woman. A very specific woman. You haven’t done wish fulfillment in your writing? Stop judging. It started with the prince dismissing all the other women in court and longingly looking over the horizon, where she was coming up the path. He made all the arrangements for a happily-ever-after and the couple got married. She was soon after locked up and the prince became a tyrant, keeping an eye on all she did.

What? Prince Charming doesn’t lock away Sleeping Beauty! I was horrified. I would never do that. But it’s amazing what those feelings of fear, loss, despair, and even desperation bring to the forefront when thinking up a neat (fantasy) story that went from romantic wedding to domestic abuse. I had become a villain in my story and it made me very uncomfortable.

These people exist in the world, the ones who actually go through it. Stories are all over about the guy who is charming, gets his wife to marry him, and then is the slob on the couch that smacks her around in front of the kids. Sometimes you’ll think that or some other horrible plot. You won’t act on it (I hope), but you might imagine it. I had a friend who wanted to rip out a guy’s nipple piercings and gouge his eyes out with it. He would never do it, and if you ever met him he’s the nicest guy in the world.

And when you think it, that’s one thing. But when you write it, you’re making it real. You’re making an alternate you real, and that can be very disconcerting because it’s so personal, instead of far flung and fictional.

Who wouldn't use their peasants as a footrest? Fable 3 concept art.
Who wouldn’t use their peasants as a footrest? Fable 3 concept art.

Backtracking to my story, once I was beyond the initial revulsion, I realized something about that inner thought, about my dark garden blossoming forbidden (and felony level) fruit. It’s okay to write about it. It’s okay to portray me in that manner. Because we are all gray, neither good nor bad, and we will write best what we understand and feel. We will write best when it’s something we desire, whether or not our morals and societal norms stop us. It’s okay for you to conjure up your dark thoughts. It is much easier emotionally to pick up a newspaper and hit the freakish things others do in those pages than to reflect on what we would do if our conscious didn’t get in the way, but it won’t be nearly as true when you commit words to paper.

What I’m trying to tell you is delve into your inner bad guy. Release your Hyde, and let him roam the streets. Would she sleep around? Would he urinate on pets as they walked by? Would she do experiments on people to see what it takes to break bone? Would he become a serial killer, curious how long he can remain ahead of the police? Maybe I’m just exposing my psyche for all of you to judge, but I’m fairly confident we all have our dark thoughts. Those thoughts we hide deep in the shadows of our mind, hoping we don’t have to face them. Well face them and profit off them. Writing is from your brain, so use it all.

That got dark. I need a shower. And I’m going to write a story about a man urinating on pets being walked in the park. Have you had characters make you squeamish because they hit close to your less than flattering attributes? How do you use yourself in your stories? Do you think I’m entirely wrong on this, and why?

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2 thoughts on “Villainize Yourself

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