Saturday, August 7, 2010

Creating Evil Characters

The key to creating an effective evil character involves a two prone perspective. The character must be believable, and, the reader must empathize with the evil character - at some point in the book. There are a few thriller writers who can effectively skirt around the latter notion of making an evil character likeable. However, these great writers tend to present drama, tragedy and suspense in the opening chapter revealing very little characterization of the bad guy.

The Doctor's Vice has a complex plot, so I found it necessary to develop a character the reader could follow and understand.

The process of creating an evil character starts with good research. I had to know what makes a person pathological. And then I researched the actions and symptons of the character's pathology. Next, research professional profiles of particular pathological behavior to create suspense when your character is acting out the behavior.

For example, my upcoming novel, The Doctor's Vice, draws upon research of a child's traumatic experiences at an early age. In this case, a young boy has a terrible experience that lingers with him, gnawing upon his psyche. His undirected anger grows and he begins to interpet the world of adults based on his own inner fears and self-hatred. The reader will understand that the character does not trust....anyone.

I hope the reader has sympathy for the boy and follow him through the opening chapter.

To pull it off, I had to make the reader see, feel and hate the child molester. I had to present the child as helpless, fearful and unable to understand his trauma. I had to make sure circumstances surrounding his childhood made him feel no one would believe him if he were to expose his molester.

To make the boy's fear believable to the reader, I, hopefully, created insight into his mother's greed (which the molester exploited). Greed made her vulnerable to the molester's advances toward her son. Her greed added salt to the boy's injury. Can you imagine what evil is created in the boy's soul?

One thing I've learned from great writers is to avoid the propensity to front load the story with back story information. In other words, show the action upfront and explain later.

When the boy grows up, he becomes an insatiable killer.

Enough of my rambling, let's get to the point.

Here is an excerpt from the Doctor's Vice. Hopefuly, I have created sympathy for the boy, Smitty, which will make his evil acts believable later on in the story.

{The boys are in the basement of the molester's home}

Mr. Boomer sat on the sofa next to the other boys and crossed
one leg over the other so that one side of his hips was raised higher. He flipped off both sandals and dangled his legs like a woman.

"Okay, let's show you how to wrestle," said Mr. Boomer. He then fell to his knees. "Whose first?"

Mr. Boomer looked around the room. The boys looked at each other. All of them had heard the rumors. The man was said to be...funny. He touched boys in private places; however, none of the boys lost interest in wrestling.

Smitty spoke up. "Let's go swimming." He was immediately aware that he should have remained silent.

"You. Smitty." Mr Boomer said pointing toward him. He then pointed at the floor and patted the carpet with an open palm. He beckoned the young, intimidated boy. "Come on Smitty, let's show 'em. The man spanked the floor, again. "Let's do 'er."

"Don't wanna," Smitty responded.

"Whaddya say boys? Is Smitty chicken or what?"

"Noooooo," they yelled.

"Smitty can wrestle," said another.

"Show him Smitty."

"I'm waiting, Smitty." Mr. Bommer patted the floor with the palm of his hand.

"Let's go swimming, everyone!" Smitty shouted.

"I know why he doesn't wanna," Earl whispered to another boy.

The boys snickered among themselves, and then sat on the sofa, in preparation of a dramatic unfolding.

"Don't you wanna swim, guys?" Smitty asked no one in particular. He looked around the room for voter support.

There was unanimous silence.

After another nervous moment, the boys began to giggle. They knew Smitty was about to get the treatment.

I am attempting to sprinkle the story with background information on the character without boring the reader by stifling the action scenes.