Creepy Villains, Strong Superheroes and Deceptive Music Boxes #IWSG #amwriting #Musicboxes

[I wrote this post as a member of the Insecure Writer’s Support Group where we share our worries and also offer support and encouragement to each other on the first Wednesday of every month. If you’re a writer like me and you’re looking for a bit of support, you can click the link and sign up here]

This month’s awesome Co-Hosts feature other fabulous writing friends:  Fundy Blue, Beverly Stowe McClure, Erika Beebe, myself, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Check out our IWSG homepage.  And as always, thank you to founder Alex J. Cavaugh 🙂 


Do you have an all time favorite hero? What about a villain?

What was it about this character that moved you?

When I read the IWSG question of the month in the newsletter, immediately I thought of Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight. Creepy to the core from his crackled painted face, his dark eyes that held no light, and that scarred exaggerated smile.

He moved fast too, ending a pointed statement and adding fear as he shoved a bomb in a poor banker’s mouth. I cringed. I cringed a lot during the movie.

Even when I watched it for the second time.

Many posts ago, I talked about the importance of heroes and villains and how good heroes need great villains to create spine tingling tension. Not only tension, but believable tension. The audience wants to relate, to feel compelled to something whether it is the cause or a character.

I’m driven by character, whether good or bad.

To answer this month’s question, when I write, I mostly write for the hero. I do have a working manuscript in progress where I volley between both. I’m not quite  sure how this version will turn out. I’m not sure if I can dig deep into the heart of the villain to justify the greatness the character deserves. Time will tell.

Villains bring out the worst and  the best in heroes. Jack Gleeson states: “Both villains and heroes need to have a steadfast belief in themselves.”

What makes the Joker so creepy?

The Joker simply doesn’t care; he is an agent of chaos and loves destruction. “He simply wants to watch the world burn.” ~The writing cooperative

Questions: Who drives your books, villains or heroes? Do you think heroes can also have a sad dark side? Why do you pick the character you do?


Music Boxes

Speaking of great characters with great stories to tell, check out Music Boxes, by my writing friend Tonja Drecker.

The book jacket grabbed me at once:

“I only desire your talent…”

Twelve-year-old Lindsey McKay’s biggest dream is to be a famous ballerina. But after moving to New York, she ends up at the Community Center with a teacher who’s a burly bear in tights.

When she meets Madame Destinée, the teacher of a top dance school who offers her classes for free, Lindsey can’t believe her luck. In exchange, she must perform in the school’s exclusive midnight shows, ones sure to make her a star. But something’s not right…
One by one, the other dancers disappear. Each time they do, a music box with a figurine just like the missing ballerina joins Madame Destinée’s growing collection. If Lindsey doesn’t discover the truth about the dance school, she might end up a tiny figurine herself.

Where to Find the Book

About the Author

Tonja Drecker is a writer, blogger, children’s book reviewer and freelance translator. After spending years in Germany exploring forgotten castles, she currently resides in the Ozarks with her family of six. When she’s not tending her chickens and cows, she’s discovering new adventures, nibbling chocolate and sipping a cup of tea.


Links to Connect with Tonja

And A Really Great Video

Thank you for visiting today. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

About Erika Beebe

Author, dreamer, and a momma to a couple of wonderful kids, I try to live life everyday in hope and inspire others along my way.

Posted on March 6, 2019, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 105 Comments.

  1. Hi,

    My writing is also character driven, and I definitely write from the Protagonist view, but I do see the need to create a villain that is really a villain.
    Thank you so much for being a co-host.
    All the best.
    Shalom aleichem,
    Pat G @ EverythingMustChange

  2. Great post, Erika!! And fabulous graphics. The Joker is my favorite villain and you hit on all the quirky reasons why. He’s scary, mad, yet you still feel empathy for him. He’s the energetic engine moving the plot. That’s what a good villain does. Thanks for co-hosting this month!!

  3. Thanks for co-hosting. I agree with you that both the hero and villain must be interesting, even if you just write from the hero’s POV.

  4. Happy IWSG Day Erika! Thanks for Co-Hosting. Blessings✨

  5. Big congratulations to Tonja!
    The villain of a story needs even more work than the hero.
    Thanks for co-hosting today!

  6. Angela Wooldridge

    I agree, it adds so much more when the villain has depths too.
    Thanks for hosting 🙂

  7. Heath Ledger’s Joker comes to mind for me as well. So does the Master from Doctor Who, as played by John Simm. One of the things that makes a villain really scary, in my opinion, is when they have a good sense of humor. We instinctively like people who make us laugh. And if a villain can make us laugh, that puts us, as the audience, in a weird psychological place.

  8. I agree with what you said about the Joker. But I think villains are best when a bit of their humanity peeks out. I think one of the reasons that that is what makes a good villain great, is that somewhere inside us, we can relate to him/her. And that is scary, because we don’t want to think we have that darkness inside ourselves. Thanks for co-hosting!

  9. Tonja Drecker

    Thanks for having Music Boxes today! I love a great villain, possibly because of the dark side we all possess. I’m intrigued by your story now, and I believe it will take work. Well done villains are very complex.

  10. It’s great to meet you, Erika! My middle grade novel is written from both perspectives. I give my protag a lot more stage time, though. It was lots of fun writing from they eyes of the villain. I also think this is a good writing exercise to simple discover more about the novel I’m writing. When I do this, I always discover thing about my world building, characters, and even the main plot that I hadn’t originally intended to show. Love it when this happens! Thank you for co-hosting!

  11. Heath Ledger’s Joker was AMAZING, it’s so sad and tragic that we lost him. I would have loved to have seen him continue the character in follow up movies in the franchise. Thanks for co-hosting!

  12. I’m ashamed to admit I never saw Heath Ledger’s depiction of the Joker – it felt a bit strange to do so. But enough time has passed now, so I may give it a try. I hope you’re able to dig out the depth you need in your villain to do justice to the story you have in your head. It sounds great.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month – happy #IWSG day!

  13. A strong hero needs a strong villain to challenge her/him. Otherwise when s/he conquer the villain, it doesn’t seem easy. A good villain must be compelling, like we can’t stop watching or reading. In my romantic suspenses, I’ll go into the villain’s pov to give the reader info the MC doesn’t have to up the tension. Thanks for co-hosting.

  14. In my opinion, without a villain stories become bland. I mean, villains make us cheer more for the good guy.

    Thanks for co-hosting!

  15. tyreanmartinson

    I hadn’t thought of Heath Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker – that was super creepy. I think every hero has some kind of antagonist/villain or problem which stands in his/her way and creates tension in a story.

  16. I’d forgotten how totally compelling Joker was. He was a perfect example the ultimate villain.

  17. I really like both the Sheldon and Lee quotes. Thanks for sharing!

  18. I love that quote from Christopher Lee! It’s perfect. Thanks so much for co-hosting this month Erika!

  19. I enjoy a story villain who I can root against and cheer when they receive their just reward, or better yet, achieve redemption and become a better person. My favorite villains have been the ones who are intelligent and can convincingly rationalize their motivations for doing what they are doing.

    One favorite has been Javier Bardem’s role in the James Bond film Skyfall. He was also good as the ruthless killer in No Country for Old Men.

    Arlee Bird
    Tossing It Out

  20. Thank you for promoting Music Boxes today.

    Often the villain is the one who has to carry the story, at least for a while, and he has to be convincing.

  21. My genre doesn’t always feature a classic villain, though conflict is key to a satisfying romance story. “A and B meet, fall in love, that’s it” = boring story. Music Boxes sounds delightfully creepy, kind of like Ursula the Sea Witch stealing voices. Happy writing in March.

  22. Loved your quotes. I haven’t seen that movie but the Joker sounds too scary for little ole me. Congrats to Tonja on her new release. That book trailer certainly hooks me in.
    JQ Rose

  23. Writing as a badguy–I have found myself trying to humanize them, explain their bad acts as something better than evil. Good post, Erika. You got me thinking.

  24. Since the Joker made an appearance in my post as well, my son and I talked about him. He–my son–felt that the Joker was trying to education the general population. The Joker saw everyone as corrupt and felt it was his duty to point that out. I’m not sure if agree, but it was a different take on my thoughts that he was a nutjob with impulse control issues.

    Great post.

    Anna from elements of emaginette

  25. Thanks for co-hosting, Erika! Interesting thoughts and quotes about villains. Congratulations to Tonya.

  26. Loni Townsend

    Oooh, yeah, that was a good Joker performance.

    I enjoy exploring pushing black and white into the shades of gray. It makes me think of my “hero”. Over four books, he goes from a pretty good guy to the monster in the shadows.

  27. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan

    Thanks for visiting my blog, Erika! Like you, I’m also Holding Out for a Hero.

  28. Rebecca Douglass

    I think writing a realistic villain is hard, because of the tendency to make them all bad, which usually isn’t realisitc. Though some people I read about in the news… never mind 😀

  29. Great to see Tonja & her book everywhere!
    I haven’t tried to sustain a villain pov throughout an entire novel – hard to live in that head for that long! But it’s fun for me in shorter bursts

  30. Thanks for co-hosting, Erika. Love your post. It’s true a hero wouldn’t be a hero if not for a worthy villain. I wonder, though, how twisted should the antagonist be? Should the reader still be able to relate to the character’s darkness. But then, in Silence of the Lambs, whats-his-face was way out there in the sick mind ward, but it made the movie a hit, not that I ever want to watch it again. I suppose the writer has to keep in mind who is their target audience, and build on that. Good luck with your writing. Blessings

  31. Good post Erika.

    You picked a great villain. I think Hannibal Lector is one of the creepiest and deadliest villain I’d ever encountered. After seeing Silence of the Lambs, I was shaking in my sneakers.

  32. The Joker in The Dark Knight was brilliant. He was so interesting and makes you want to see more and wonder how the hero will win…but at the same time you kind of don’t because you don’t want the ride to stop.

  33. Compelling characters make a book enjoyable, and that goes for both the antagonist as well as the protagonist.I like to think even the most evil characters have a redeeming quality of some sort, and the most wonderful heroes have flaws. It’s that realistic depth that makes characters memorable.

    I agree with Cathrina. Hannibal Lector was a fantastic bad guy.

  34. Mary Aalgaard

    Great book trailer. The Joker is pure evil, and yet, we are so curious about him. Villains are more complex.
    Thanks for co-hosting IWSG this month!

  35. Jennifer Hawes

    Creating believable tension is my goal every time I write!! I love the dynamics between the hero and the villain.

  36. While most people seem (or appear) to be good at the core, I always find it interesting that so many of us can relate to (and sometimes even root for) the villain in a book or a movie. Why is that?

    It would be fun to explore writing “as a villain” and I would love to try that one day. As I’m currently writing a memoir, I am the protagonist, but I do have some bad sides, which is honestly expressed. Although, in general, I assume I’m the hero of my own story. 🙂 Thanks for co-hosting!

    • You are most welcome. In order for me to root for the villain, they have to have human vulnerability or a psychosis I get. Otherwise I feel they should follow the laws. 🙂

  37. The Joker is a great example of a fascinating villain, especially as portrayed by Heath Ledger. @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  38. Heath Ledger was an awesome Joker! I’ve written from both POVs and my current WIP features both. I love exploring the dark side of humanity. Thanks for co-hosting today.

  39. What would Luke Skywalker have been without Darth Vader? A protagonist is only as good as his opponent … even if that opponent is himself as with Mr. Hyde!

  40. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    Thanks for sharing the Christopher Lee quotation, Erika. His portrayal of Saruman the White in the Lord of the Rings movies was brilliant, and I can see that quotation realized in his acting. Heroes definitely drive my writing, especially flawed heroes. I haven’t thought of the Joker or Batman movies in a while. I’ve put them out of my mind. I live in Aurora, and I still haven’t put the Aurora theatre shootings to rest. I agree that the Joker is creepy to the core. When I saw this month’s question, I thought of Lucifer in “Paradise Lost” and Hannibal Lector.
    Wishing you satisfying writing this month!

  41. mlouisebarbourfundyblue

    I forgot to say thanks for cohosting today. I hope that you have had lots of fun!

  42. Thank you for the reminder that whichever point of view we write from, the antagonist must be a skilfully drawn character otherwise the book cannot reach the heights, or depths, it could have reached. Thanks for co hosting the IWSG. Happy to have found your blog.

  43. Hi Tonya – I’m excited for the release of your book!

    Jetlag and immediate tasks like laundry, email, and paying bills prevented my interaction with the question of the month until the wee hours of the day after, so I hope that interested peeps check out my reply.

    My writing is decidedly character-driven. We all know that the antagonist thinks that he/she is the hero of the story and is eager to achieve their goals, I give that character their full due.

    Three longtime gal pals populate my Faith, Family, Frenzy series and each of them has ‘one of those days’ when villainous thoughts, words, or deeds dominate. And, I must admit I relish writing those scenes!

    Thanks for co-hosting. This union of insecure writers is a boost for us all.

  44. Oh, yes I firmly believe the hero (protagonist) can have a dark side. That may be exactly his/her motivation.
    Lynn La Vita @ Writers Supporting Writers

  45. Hi Erik, Thank you for co-hosting IWSG March blog hop and for visiting my post. Yes, I believe it is common for the antagonist to have a dark side, sad or otherwise. This could be motivation to slay the dragons and other actions. I believe it’s rare for a person to be without regrets.

  46. A terrific post, Erika. Certainly thought-provoking. I’m definitely a hero person, and probably take the easy way out by often using fate as an adversary. That way, I don’t have to kill anybody 😉
    Happy day!

  47. Yeah, gotta love those characters! And Tonja Drecker’s new book reeks of a really horrible antagonist – I MUST read it! Thanks for hosting the IWSG this month 🙂

  48. The protagonists definitely drive my stories. The antagonist is there to present an obstacle and to give the hero a reason to change, whether they want to or no.

    Thanks for co-hosting this month’s IWSG!

  49. Some of the most memorable stories I’ve read or watched have a dynamic villain to match the dynamic hero. Some of these have already been mentioned above, but I also think of Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Avengers, and Harry Potter. Thanks for being a co-host this month!

  50. It can be hard work to make the villain believable as well as original, and not just cliché. The Joker was definitely an original.

  51. I had never really thought about who’s perspective I like to write – hero or villain. I guess that’s because none of my stories entirely have a good vs evil theme. All my “characters” have a predominantly good or bad personality, but not in absolutes. Perhaps I should really think on this and write a good/evil story with a protagonist and antagonist. I’ve a feeling I would spend too much time in the antagonist perspective, and that would not sell many stories, lol.

  52. I plot heavy on my mystery novels, but always write from my law bending detective’s perspective. I guess sometimes she can be seen as an anti-hero. Great post. Thanks for co-hosting!

  53. The Joker was creepy. The subtle things, like the lip licking, made him even creepier. They were small details that made him feel so real.

  54. Understanding our villains (that old antagonist) can help us tell stories with depth. Good insights on the Joker, though sometimes that dark side creeps where we really aren’t comfortable. Thank you for coordinating IWSG — and for visiting my blog!

  55. Victoria Marie Lees

    It’s the not caring that make villains so scary, I think, Erika. Thanks for co-hosting the IWSG question for March. Enjoy your weekend!

  56. Thanks for co-hosting this month. I too like to write as the hero but I like the idea of trying to write from a villain perspective. Music Boxes sounds like a really cool story.

  57. I think The Joker (Heath Ledger version) and Hannibal Lecter are great villains.

  58. I love to write multifaceted characters, where each one is capable of evil OR good. I think that makes them more believable.

    Favorite villains? Francis Dolarhyde (the Tooth Fairy) from Thomas Harris’s first published book, Red Dragon. I love Charles’ Dickens’ Great Expectations because all the characters are flawed. Is Estella the villain? Mrs. Havisham? The convict? Even Pip, the protagonist, is found to be greedy and shallow. Very human.

    For protagonists, I’ve always loved Sherlock Holmes. Brilliant, but flawed.

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