Writing the Villain: Connecting With My Dark Side
by author Virginia Cantrell
Writing from a villain’s point of view was difficult for me at first. I like to think of myself as a nice, good person, but there is a piece of me in all of my characters. And truth be told, I was a little afraid to expose my hidden dark side. What would people think of me, knowing this character who does unspeakable things came from within me?
To prepare myself when writing from any character’s point of view, I try to connect with how they’re feeling, keeping in mind their life experience, though process, and coping mechanisms. This was difficult with my villain Sorin. I had to explore feelings of envy, hatred, greed, arrogance, contempt, but most of all, helplessness. (A song that really helped me in this was Johnny Cash’s cover of “Hurt”.) When I discovered the inner pain and that fear the drove Sorin to behave the way he did, everything else fell into place.
I’m not saying it was always easy. The first time I wrote a scene exploring the twisted relationship between Sorin and Marcelle, honestly, it freaked me out. As the scene unfolded, Sorin manipulated, abused, and sexually used this woman (and to make it worse, Marcelle took sick pleasure in it!). I was shocked and a little afraid that this darkness had come from me. What would my mother think? After that scene, I had to take a long, quiet walk to center myself and get out of Sorin’s sadistic mind frame. I had been left feeling dirty and a little used myself.
During my walk, I reminded myself that we all possess light and dark sides, including Sorin. Consciously, or subconsciously, we choose which side we’re going to nurture and feed. This got me wondering, what would it take to get Sorin to choose to do the right thing? (Yep, I’m an optimist at heart.) Was Sorin even redeemable? Could he go from being the vilest of souls to being a good guy?
If you want to find out, please pick up a copy of Divine Merit today! I’d love to know what you think. (See, writing is therapeutic! I’m not longer afraid of you seeing my dark side.)
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