Tags:
  1. vcarson
    Offline

    vcarson Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    1

    Female Villains

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by vcarson, Jan 15, 2014.

    In the novel that I am currently writing, Felicity is the main antagonist. She is very intelligent, clever, beautiful, and devious. She uses everything in her power to get the two things she loves most; money and social status. It isn't enough that she was born to one of the richest families in the US, or that she married one of the richest men in the world (who is twice her age). She constantly uses her charismatic charms to climb up the social ladder. Felicity has no morals at all and singe-handedly causes her sisters' depression, which eventually leads to the sister's death. Felicity is also able to out smart anyone who questions her true intent. She sees people as her puppets and is very good at manipulating people into doing what she wants. Her true evil persona is not known until well into the novel, where she admits to destroying her sister's reputation in the cut-throat high society of the early American 1900s.

    So, I'm wondering if this kind of villain is too cliche. This character is detrimental to the plot, but there is something about her that seems too evil. Sort of cartoonish. It's as if she is untouchable. Should I change the character?
     
  2. Storysmith
    Offline

    Storysmith Member

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2014
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    23
    I think she could work, but currently she doesn't come across as a rounded character. I think you need to work out the drivers for her behavior. She certainly shouldn't act in an evil way just because that's what the plot needs!

    Money and social status are desired by many people, so it shouldn't be hard to sell those as something your character wants. But why does she display no morals? One answer would be to make her a psychopath, but that definitely puts you into cliche territory. To avoid that, you need to find a driver that explains why she is willing to treat people so badly to get what she wants. Even better, you could also have her occasionally perform selfless acts (still driven by her character), to show that she's more than a cardboard cut-out villain.

    Finally, be careful of how you get her to confess to what she did to her sister. Once more, it should be driven by her character and events. Don't make her do it just because that's what villains do in stories, or because the story needs her to.
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  3. Glacial
    Offline

    Glacial Member

    Joined:
    May 1, 2012
    Messages:
    37
    Likes Received:
    11
    Location:
    Canada
    Detrimental to the plot? Not sure that's what you meant.

    As for the character being too cliche, I wouldn't worry yourself too much about that. Cliche or not, it's all about how it's done. I think Storysmith had a good point: you're missing the why behind it all. It sounds like she needs some motivation to explain (not justify mind you) why she is a total manipulative prick. I like to think that we are more nurture than nature, so when I am stuck on making a character seem more believable I try and think about cause and effect. What caused them to be this way?
     
    GingerCoffee likes this.
  4. Liam Johnson
    Offline

    Liam Johnson Member

    Joined:
    Jan 16, 2014
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    Warrington, England
    A good idea for crafting your villain, I find, is to mould their character to best oppose your protag. At the end of the day, that's ultimately why villains exist and maybe it is a little less black and white than it used to be but you look at the greatest villains, they all were strong characters yes but also presented the strongest obstacle to the protag in the most potent way. The Joker, for example, provided the playful sheer chaos that directly opposed Batman who was trying to control every scenario totally, so that nobody (or the least amount anyways) got hurt. If your villain here is a bitch, that's great but in what way could she best be a bitch to stop your hero from achieving her goal?
     
  5. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Did you mean detrimental or essential?

    There are stories where a one sided characters work, Ugly Stepsisters, Cinderellas and Prince Charmings can be found in enjoyable stories (not my thing but still, it can work).

    It should be a conscious choice that the story needs. But if this character is to have any depth, and from what you've given us it sounds like she should, she could use with some weaknesses, some doubt, a twinge of guilt that only barely breaks through the facade of guiltlessness. And I agree with Glacial, the reader needs a bit more than genetics to explain her character to us.
     
  6. TechnoGoth
    Offline

    TechnoGoth Member

    Joined:
    Apr 15, 2013
    Messages:
    28
    Likes Received:
    5
    Location:
    Chester, Cheshire, United Kingdom
    While not a female character you should take a look at Kevin Spacey's Character in House of Cards. He is ruthless, manipulative, and ambitious just like you want your antagonist to be. If you look at how they made his character then it should give you ideas of how to craft yours without it seemingly like some boring one dimensional villain.
     
  7. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,564
    Likes Received:
    3,561
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    Is she untouchable? Has she no weaknesses? You might not have to change her as much as you could refine her a bit. I'm also with @Glacial and @Storysmith , think about the hows and whys behind her behavior. What happened to her that made her this callous? Or is she a sociopath? And if so, how far would she then take her scheming? Also, if the only reason you're writing her is to have an antagonist or to accomplish something plot-related, there is a chance she'll become one-dimensional and cartoonish.

    And like others have said, don't worry about the cliché thing. Just focus on writing a multidimensional character. Good luck!
     
  8. Mckk
    Offline

    Mckk Moderator Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2010
    Messages:
    4,749
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    You make it sound like Felicity is your protag, not antag - just a protag who happens to be a villain.

    Anyway, it reminds me of the protag Beatrice in the book Wideacre by Philippa Gregory. Beatrice is pretty much exactly like Felicity, and hey, the book was a success - so clearly there's an audience out there for ultra evil characters.

    But personally? I thought the book was ridiculous. It was unreal and downright frustrating and annoying that the characters around her were all so cardboard-like, cartoony and outright stupid. There was 1 other smart character in the entire book - and it was a thick book - and he was shipped off the moment he suspected anything. Absolutely pissed me off.

    To see what I mean, here's a spoiler to the book:

    SPOILER SPOILER (if anyone knows how I could add the hide/show tags, tell me. The <spoiler> tags I knew didn't work)

    Beatrice manipulates her brother into having sex with her, in order to bear an heir to the land she loves. Brother marries wife Cecelia. Beatrice gets pregnant with her brother's child and convinced Cecelia to pretend it was hers, and not only does Cecelia comply, but the world believes the child to be Cecelia's.

    SPOILER SPOILER- ends

    That was probably the last straw for me, that part in the book. I wanted to throw the book across the room.

    But hey, like I said, the book was a success and Gregory is a successful writer with many of hers books having been adapted into movies and TV series. Having said that, Widearce is not amongst the ones that have been adapted into motion pictures. So, there's definitely a audience out there, but I am not amongst them.
     
  9. DeathandGrim
    Offline

    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 28, 2012
    Messages:
    540
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    Virginia Beach
    I think this type of villain could work fine, I can definitely see it being overdone if she's just too damn flawless. But otherwise she just seems like another heartless woman antagonist, I mean that as in how I see her, not trying to call her generic or anything.
     
  10. TheApprentice
    Offline

    TheApprentice Contributing Member

    Joined:
    May 24, 2013
    Messages:
    1,198
    Likes Received:
    154
    Don't change her too much, just change a few details if you are unsure of her. There is cliche, then there is classic.
     
  11. Cogito
    Offline

    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    May 19, 2007
    Messages:
    35,935
    Likes Received:
    2,043
    Location:
    Massachusetts, USA
    There is no cliche with characters. There is well written and poorly written.
     
  12. vcarson
    Offline

    vcarson Member

    Joined:
    Nov 11, 2013
    Messages:
    14
    Likes Received:
    1
    She's not 100% untouchable. Her character is plagued by jealousy. That is her motivation for betraying her well-liked sister. Although Felicity seems to be in control of everything around her, the jealousy that she has actually runs her life. She isn't satisfied unless she has beaten everyone else. She is a sociopath, but hides her devious intent under an attractive appearance. Her actual personality is unknown by the reader until well into the book, when she reveals her hidden past.
     
  13. Steerpike
    Offline

    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    11,051
    Likes Received:
    5,256
    Location:
    California, US
    Monzcarro ("Monza") Murcatto is actually the protagonist of Joe Abercrombie's novel Best Served Cold, but she's as nasty a piece of work as you're likely to come across.
     
  14. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,601
    Likes Received:
    5,875
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Been asked and asked, never answered. I believe that says there are no tags at the moment.
     
    Mckk likes this.

Share This Page