M. K. Theodoratus, Fantasy Writer, blogs about the books she reads--mostly fantasy and mystery authors whose books catch her eye and keep her interest. Nothing so formal as a book review, just chats about what she liked. Theodoratus also mutters about her own writing progress or ... lack of it.


Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Killing Your Villains

The Read...
Villains have a bad habit of sneaking back into the story line after they have been killed, especially in series.  Patricia Briggs' Wolfbane gives us a great example of this plot element, one that greatly increased the tension about half-way through the book -- since the main characters were still seeking answers but you, the reader, had been given enough clues to know a disaster could be in the making.  About two-thirds of the way done, the characters not only knew the major villain had found a way to return from death ... but he was "haunting" the secondary semi-villain who had the power to see that the main characters were killed for "breaking the rules".

Brigg's gives a writer a lesson in introducing several possible villains to increase the tension in the story line.  After all, isn't tension the means of keeping the reader hooked?  This book is again on the NYT Best Seller List ... and deserves to be ... even if it's a relatively light read.

I think I like Briggs because of her light touch -- which goes a little ways towards explaining why I've reviewed so many of her books.  --  Also, the Mercy Thompson books are set in the eastern corner of Washington/Oregon where I've spent many a lunch time while traveling to the Cascades.

Web Links and Comments ...
Just got home from the seasonal shopping and decided to kill time before cooking dinner by reading blogs.  

Kevin Hearne's blog, "Write More" sat at the top of the blog roll.  It's a blog you need to read if you think you've got it made ... if your revisions on your novel are done ... if you got an agent ... if you've published a couple books.  --  From what I've read, I think there are fewer secure author perches than there are bird perches on our feeder.

Guess I can't run away from querying agents.  Want to clarify your thoughts on the agent-finding-thing, Kaitlen Ward at YA Highway has an untitled post giving lots of insights into the process of finding an agent.   --  Yeah, I'm ambivalent about the process ... but I also think a good agent is necessary if you want an enduring career as an author.

Christmas is chewing through my writing time, but I did want to mention something  --  in case the New York Times puts their Science News on the web.  Today's section has an article explaining why the USA gets so little health care for money spent.  You do know that US citizens spend more on health care than any of the other 200-some countries of the world?  I get mad every time I realize we have now sunk to 49th in delivery of health care on that list.  That means a fourth of the countries in the world get better health care for less money.  --  Okay.  The cheapskate's rant's done.

Progress ...
I really recommend you join a local writer's group if your area has one.  Went to the Northern Colorado Writers' coffee this morning -- another reason why I'm behind.  But it was worth it.  I put a question on the table about the parts of a writer's website they wanted to read most -- to those attending.  Several people said at once: the author's bio.  

So, if you're contemplating a writer's website ... remember that tidbit.  I've gotten it from other people as well.  --  Result?  I expanded my bio and put in a link to this blog.

As for writing, I'm critiquing more than writing.  But, I did get my Dark Solstice manuscript edited again.  Ended up making about five to ten changes a chapter ... mostly tightening verbs.  Why use flabby verbs, even if they aren't passive, when English gives you so many pin-pointing choices?

Trivia ...
The Christmas baking is upon me ... and my hips ache.  Good thing I only have two more batches of cookies and the baklava to go.  [My Christmas shopping's done ... and I managed to do it all locally!!!]


E.J. Wesley said...

Interesting point about villains. I think we tend to get so locked in (as writers) on creating THE villain that we forget the suspense that multiple bad guys can provide.

I can think of a few instances that decoy villains really worked (Harry Potter - Snape), and a few that were very transparent and almost took away from the story (the YA book, Fallen, comes to mind).

Kay Theodoratus said...

E. J. -- Just think: though when you create the ultimate villain, s/he can be sneaky enough to avoid death to come back and cause more problems in the next book.

Anonymous said...

I have a bad habit of liking my villains too much to kill them off. Offing the good guys? No problem!

Kay Theodoratus said...

LOL. I can think of some "good guys" in other books who would make good candidates, usually secondary characters.

KarenG said...


Visiting your blog from Patti's, new follower-- *hi*--and I must say I'm so jealous that your Christmas shopping is done. I don't usually start until the 15th at least!


Kay Theodoratus said...

Karen: First, welcome. Next, I don't have any choice but to get much Christmas stuff done early. I have to mail it all to both ends of the country.