Hey guys, I’m so sorry I haven’t been on lately. Let’s just say that being sick sucks.
Anyway, here is a guest post from the author Glen Parris, who I have had the chance to read and review his book The Renaissance of Aspirin. I’m going to post the review either saturday or sunday depending on when I get home.
Without further delay, your guest post…
The Other Side of the Tale
Ever ask yourself, “what draws you into a story most?” Most would say a compelling hero, or in literary terms, a protagonist. Well, I contend that that’s only half the story. A great three-dimensional protagonist is the hook, the selling point of a good tale. Yes, you have to have a good plot and yes, you have to have good supporting characters. If you have those elements, then yes, you have a good story. But if you want a really great story, you need a good villain (again, in literary terms an antagonist).
Just ask yourself, would Sherlock Holmes have been nearly as compelling without Prof. Moriarty? Would Star Wars have been nearly as exciting without Darth Vader? What would the Dark Knight be without the Joker? Hell, what would the Bible be without Satan?
We always cheer for the hero: let him get the girl, let him win the prize, let him seize the day! But what would be the point without a really intense challenge that the audience can connect with. A villain must have some redeeming characteristics. He must have fallen from grace. He must have some common failings, something reflected in most people. I submit, we have to empathize with the villain nearly as much as we empathize with the hero. Think about it, how engaging is it when the hero wins, but at the same time loses some of his innocence when he takes down the villain who turns out to be not so evil? When we learn that the villain and the protagonist have a lot in common except for maybe one or two wrong turns?
And let’s admit it, don’t you always kind of long for the villain to come back? Don’t you want to see him menace the world again? You know you want to see the protagonist win over and over against the same villain. Isn’t it always a let-down when another villain’s takes our endearing villain’s place? Someone not quite as bad or even not quite as likable? Don’t we usually find that “replacement” villain somewhat two-dimensional? Of course we do. That’s why, so often in fiction, evil never dies.
It’s great fun when the villains are more three-dimensional isn’t it? Not just a single individual, but layers of bad guys. Maybe I should have said, levels of bad guys? Sort of like a videogame. Don’t we love winning the videogame on the simple level to learn the rules of The World then moving up to level II? Don’t we feel special when we get to the final level? That’s when the game is fun, when you have to work at it.
One of the best rewards we get from villains is knowledge. It’s the “Great Reveal”. Something the hero doesn’t know until the last minute. “Yes you’ve won, but you still don’t know what I know. There’s still a secret that you have to solve.” It’s a little extra seasoning to make the sweet victory a little bit bitter. Savory!
Sometimes a really good villain is almost like a mentor to the hero. He makes the hero better, stronger, not quite so lighthearted. Forged in fire. Finally, the antagonist administers the acid test to the protagonist. “You can have the easy way out, the prize, unearned wealth. All you have to do is sin ‘just a little bit’.” A good villain lends the protagonist gravitas! Usually, the protagonist finds the strength of will to resist the temptation, but not always. Sometimes the protagonist disappoints us “just a little bit”. A precious sacrifice of the soul. This is always delicious foreshadowing when dealing with a trilogy or series. How will he ever redeem himself? We look forward to learning more about the imperfect heroes that we come to love. We look forward to seeing how the villain comes back as we look around every corner and under every rock and down every dark alley.
So when you pick up your next mystery, thriller, suspense, big adventure –Watch out, the unexpected this way comes!
A Little about Glen Parris:
As a board certified rheumatologist, Glenn Parris has practiced medicine in the northeast Atlanta suburbs for over 20 years. He has been writing for nearly as long.
Originally from New York City, Parris migrated south to escape the cold and snow, but fell in love with the southern charms of Georgia and Carla, his wife of nearly 23 years. He now writes cross-genre in medical mystery, science fiction, fantasy, and historical fiction. The Renaissance of Aspirin is his debut novel.
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GlennParris.FictionWriter
Until the next time where you will find out more about his novel,