Friday, October 8, 2010

Hero-Villian. What's the difference?

In this article I am not going to attempt to tell you how to write a hero well, or how to write a villain well, and hopefully not how to write them badly. But what I am going to take a stab at is de-bunking the idea that floats around that heroes and villains are opposites. They are not.  In fact, one of the things I am going to try to point out and articulate is their startling similarities. Fear not all who wonder, I’m not going to gloss over evil.  Now, to arms! Er—Let’s start.

(In the duration of the article I will henceforth for the examples call heroes “H” and villains “V” to avoid confusion.)

Point One: Heroes are driven by a background motive, but for now we’ll refer to it as a driving force to make them do their heroic bit. Villains evil and foul are driven also by background motives or driving forces.  Driving force pushes people to do things they wouldn’t normally do, especially strong motivation. Let’s say you need to drink five glasses of water every minute to live, would you be motivated to find water in a desert?


The Hero: Seeks to destroy evil dragons to save the land of Odd.
The Villain: Continually strives to destroy dragons out of the sheer joy of killing them. 

H: Their hurt at being ostracized from society after having a scar on their face all their life leads them to God.
V: The same hurt acts in a villains life, but the villain’s life turns a different way and instead of turning to good they turns to the darkness to try to stave the ache with power.

The thing that drives both heroes and villains can be the same motivator; want of love, hurt that won’t go away, poverty that tramples the weak, oppression of others. They all play the same way in the life of a villain and a hero. It’s how the driving forces are acted out of and which direction the driving force goes that differentiates the hero and villain at this stage.

Point two: Heroes and villains both have an overarching plan even in its basest form, for the villain to survive physically, or for the hero for his ideals to survive. They both act in accordance to the plan. In the back of their minds the plan is almost always on the back burner(or the front). They aren’t easily separated from the plan, nor at they easily dissuaded.

 (Note to skimming readers: This is the part where driving force meets plan and we see what happens)

H: Stays silent in the interrogation and plays mute knowing his accent will give away his geographic origin and seal his death.
V: Refuses to admit to any charges knowing the evidence is not enough to convict him right away and the judges are bribable.

H: Kills to survive and fight evil.
V: Kills to live and spread discord as he does.

Point three: The way a hero and a villain follow out their plan can be night and day different, or in fact, it can be quite similar yet with a different driving force behind the following out of the plan.  The driving force plays into the plan while at the same time the plan is formed from the energy of the driving force. Kinda tricky , aye?

Here’s an example:

H: Wants to help the neighbor lady out and gets her cat out of the tree.
V: Wants to kill the cat but he can’t reach it in the tree, so he gets it out of the tree then plans to destroy it.

Notice how the driving character force was so inherently different, yet the working out of their plan was remarkably the same? Now, for a dissimilar example of the actions taken by our favorite heroes and villains.

H: Plans to rid the land of an evil sorcerer and goes to the wizards door step preaching the power of the God most high, and showing grace.
V: Wants to rid the land of the sorcerer and so does by an assassination in the night.

Point four:It’s not just the driving force that differentiates the villain and hero, it’s  not just the plan that differentiates them. Their plans can be the same, their driving force can be the same, so what really differentiates a hero and a villain?

Their action.

A hero can look at a wounded warrior and feel repulsion, feel horror, feel the need to look away, but still help the warrior.
A villain can look at a wounded warrior and feel repulsion, feel horror, feel like they want to look away, and simply walk away.

If it’s not already a famous quote it should be,

“It’s not the positive thinking man that gets ahead, or the positive planning man, it’s the man that takes positive action.”


1 comment:

  1. Please tell me you've read the One Year Adventure Novel Curriculum. That was awesome Sir Millard!


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