Good Heroes Need Good Villains #authortoolboxbloghop #amwriting
Posted by Erika Beebe
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Thank you Raimey!
At a writer’s conference a few years back, I sat with a literary agent and pitched my story. She mentioned my villain struck her attention the most. My villain had a goal equal in weight to my Lead. Then she mentioned lots and lots of writers forget to focus on the goal and the arc of the villain.
So today, I’m using some thoughts from The Marshall Plan Workbook. I’m focusing on the craft of the Opposition, a word Marshall uses in lieu of the Villain, and the importance of strength and equality for both the Lead and the Opposition. I’m also thinking of Khan as an example of interesting Opposition.
Four Basic Points From Marshall’s Plan to Consider
The Opposition As A Person
Marshall states, “Nothing stirs readers like person-against person conflict.” (Page 77)
I pondered all the books and movies I’ve liked the most. Avengers, The Archived, Panic, and The Coldest Girl in Coldtown. Some of my favorites involve magical possibility. All of them involve human faces. Sure, some phenomenal stories have been written with natural disasters and animals leading the opposition, but largely I do agree with Marshall. I think human opposition does “come across most effectively.”
And Khan. Is he human? Or he is he a divine being without weakness?
Wikipedia states Khan is, “a genetically engineered superhuman.” Now I’ve never seen the first appearance of Khan with the early Star Trek movie. But I do like the new version of Khan. I like seeing a human figure as the shell to all his power.
Opposition And Lead Must Be Equal
This point made me think again. True, the reader wants a good fight. True, the writer needs enough action and reaction scenes to develop an effective plot. Marshal states, ”an opposition who’s an equal match for your lead is believable to readers.” If one or the other is so far advanced, why doesn’t the story just end? A fair point. A last fair point, “Think first of your lead’s special skills and talents that will help her achieve the story goal, then bestow your opposition with a large enough share of the same talents that your lead will be given a real run her money—a run that will keep readers turning the page.”
And Khan? I had a hard time justifying if Khan was indeed equal to the Lead, Captain Kirk. Khan seemed to win at manipulation with high stake issues. Kirk seemed to win with his crew and loyalty. He surrounded himself with talented people with different talents than the ones he seemed to have. Khan didn’t seem to need anyone, with a gift of regenerative blood. He seemed super strong. He seemed to evaluate weakness better than most. So it’s still a toss up to me.
Opposition isn’t Always Evil, Just Opposite
Marshall states, “The reason the ideal opposition is someone already known to the lead is that this is usually how life really works.” When I think back on all my own goals, it’s true. And Khan? I guess his existence was known previously to the start of the movie. Spock certainly knew him. His awakening was fast and public.
An Invisible Opposition Exists
Murder mystery genres face invisible Opposition. The lead does not know the opposition. The Lead is terrorized by an invisible opponent. The whole plot strives to uncover the opposition and solve a case.
A last important Marshall Question to consider:
Why would this character oppose my lead?
For more information on the Marshall Plan Workbook, here’s an amazon link to purchase the book. You’ll love the resource. I certainly do.
Any other Opposition thoughts? Any thoughts on Khan and Kirk? I’d love to hear them 🙂