Villainous Words

Let’s start Monday off with a little reader participation. I want to see what you think are the best lines/monologues/taunts ever spoken by a fictional villain. Often, stories are known for their villains, sometimes more so than their protagonists. Just think about The Dark Knight, Star Wars or even Wacky Races. In fact, in a lot of comic-book movies nowadays, people care more about which villain will be showing up, rather than the hero’s story. And why not?

So, here are my top 3 most villainous quotes ever!

I’m not a comic book villain. Do you seriously think I would explain my master stroke to you if there were even the slightest possibility you could affect the outcome? I triggered it 35 minutes ago.

~ Ozymandius (Watchmen)

I ate his liver with fava beans and a nice chianti.

~ Hannibal Lecter

Stop kitchen scraps to orphans and lepers, no more merciful beheadings……..and cancel christmas!

~ Sheriff of Nottingham (Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves)

Right! Let’s hear it. What are your favourite villainous quotes? You can leave a comment below.

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Writing in Colour

Yesterday, as I was typing up a scene for my novel-in-progress, I realised that I had included a lot of descriptions/use of colour. The scene itself is set indoors, in a rather dimly lit room, so all the colours were dark and kind of “grimy”. I described an antagonist’s ink-black eyes, a non-human bodyguard’s clay-coloured skin and the blazing hearth which seems to glow a murky grey-brown. It’s the first draft still, so I didn’t look back over it, lest I realise that it’s utter drivel and consign it to the Writing 2012 folder on my desktop. I knew the descriptions were not up to par and I was just getting the images in my head down on paper. I also immediately thought: Wow, that’s a lot of colours I’ve just written about.

A Dimly Lit Room

But then, this morning, I got thinking. Colours are important. I know that in fiction sometimes less is more, but I enjoyed describing these different colours and working them into the scene. After reading it all the way through, the reader should have a fusion of black, rust-brown and copper in their head and they’ll paint everything else that they read about in the scene with those colours. Everything except the protagonist, of course. This is where the power of colour comes into play…

Think about Lord of the Rings. Gandalf the Grey merges into everything around him. He’s a neutral colour in the world of Middle-earth and nobody really considers him anyone to be amazed by. Then he becomes Gandalf the White and suddenly he’s transformed. Now he’s an infinitely wise prophet who rides a white steed and blinds the enemy with his pureness. He stands out, because nothing else in the world is white, until you get to Minas Tirith, which is then led in its defence by none other than Gandalf. When you first meet Saruman (at least in the movies) you see that he has hints of black in his beard and his robes are kind of cream/dull white–there are hints of his corruption by Sauron already.

Gandalf

In my own story, my protagonist’s primary colours are midnight blue and a vivid red. Nobody else in the story dresses in those colours–they are rare, foreign and reserved for my protagonist. I like to build colour themes around certain groups of characters. My antagonist and his henchmen, for instance, constantly suggest at black, muted browns and oranges. Another character is strongly accompanied by dark green and fiery orange-red. See, there’s the kicker: she has some elements of the antagonist’s colours and the protagonists–is she a friend or a foe? Can she be trusted? The green elements suggest she stands on her own, that she’s wild and independent.

What do you think? How important do you feel colours are when writing?

Referencing the Past

I got thinking about the difference between an antagonist and a protagonist this morning. The real difference might be in how they ‘reference’ (remember/learn from) the past

Imagine this scenario:

Two children have an almost identical upbringing. They have happy childhoods and loving parents. When they reach adulthood, one of them still remembers their childhood and sometimes think back to the days when the world was innocent in their eyes. The other, however, has left their childhood far behind and detached themselves from the past. They rarely think back and they feel that they have to move on now that they are an adult.

I’ll leave it to you to imagine which child becomes ‘good’ and not. In truth, it’s never quite as black and white as this example. Think of the Taliban in the Middle East, the capitalist western world or a mugger who steals to feed his family. In my opinion, sometimes an antagonist is someone who has left the happiness and mystery of childhood behind.

Our greatest lessons and values are learned in our early lives. What happens if we try to shut away our memories of that early period? Do we perhaps start to lose our sense of right and wrong? Can you imagine that Hitler ever took a moment to remember himself as a child while committing terrible crimes against humanity? Children are born innocent and without prejudice, until the world around them affects them in some way. If a person embraces that early child within themselves regularly, perhaps they will be a better person. Perhaps not. Perhaps I’m wrong. But it’s my opinion in any case.

I wonder if you agree or disagree? Care to share your views on this?