1. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Struggling with a scene: Introducing MC's condescending boss (villain)

    Discussion in 'Plot Development' started by Mallory, Jul 9, 2010.

    Hi,

    I'm writing a dystopian novel about a gov. that gains more and more control, but in sinister and underhanded ways. The MC starts out working as a journalist for a news company, and her editor-in-chief turns into one of the major villains in the story. The boss has a very condescending, overbearing personality and has no respect for individual rights such as privacy, freedom of individual expression, etc. I'm introducing her in Chapter 1--after re-reading the chapter I found that my introduction of her was very bland, so I'm re-doing that part.

    In the scene, the boss sends the MC a threatning "we need to talk" text message, and the MC goes over to her office, dreading whatever the boss will say because she knows the boss hates her. I need the boss to confront the MC about something, like about disliking an article she wrote or something of a more personal nature. I'm stuck as to exactly what. Basically, something that will set the background of the story better AND reveal more about the villain's character.

    I'm really stuck with this particular part, esp since it happens in Ch 1 and that's the chapter where it's most crucial to be riveting for the readers...any suggestions/help would be appreciated so much, thanks! :)
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Show the boss firing a well-liked, sweet junior employee in front of anyone, parading forth a private email (NOT on or from the company network) sent by the employee to a friend. He then turns around and threatens another employee who is doing nothing but looking sympathetic to the fired employee.

    Doing something like this before your MC gets summoned establishes an atmosphere of fear and low morale centered on the boss' bullying nature.
     
  3. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Agreed. An event like that is important for establishing the boss is a cruel soul before even having the MC encounter her.

    Maybe she starts ranting at the MC about how she is dressed inappropriately for work even though what she is wearing is tasteful. Or that she was too sympathetic in an article and therefore sounded weak. I imagine her boss is the type that will try to trample any speck of decency left in a person. Someone who is like a black hole to positive emotions. You know, the sort that wants everyone in the room to be as miserable as she is.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks a ton, wonderful ideas!

    I think I'm hatching something in my brain right now...both of your suggestions are great for setting the scene and establishing the character throughout chapter 1 before/after the MC confrontation.

    Cog, in my setting the gov has shut down the Internet...but I can definitely modify the idea, like she spied on a phone convo or something. I like that a lot.
     
  5. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Glad to hear it. :)
     
  6. RobT
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    RobT Active Member

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    You could have the boss as being old and losing her looks, she's noticed your MC's a bit of a babe and has attracted attention from someone the boss likes or used to like, and have some old fashioned jealousy.
     
  7. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Thanks guys! I have my plot figured out, I'm just going back to Ch 1 and re-working the first villain intro to make it less bland. There's not really romance jealousy stuff between the MC and villain, but I just have to show that the villain is condescending and lacks individual respect for others' rights. I figured it out last night and the scene is now in rewrite process. Thank you so much to everyone who gave me ideas -- Cog, Terra, and RobT. Appreciated very much! :)
     
  8. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    You're very welcome and I expect a signed copy when it's published someday. :p
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    Indeed you shall get one! :D

    In the near future, however, would an emailed copy of Ch 1 with a feedback request be sufficient? ;)
     
  10. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Sure. :) You can pm it to me on here if you'd like. I'm not the best about remembering to check my email.. lol
     
  11. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    In fact, one on one conversations should be taken to visitor message or PM rather than posting in the thread.
     
  12. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    Sorry forgot. :S
     
  13. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My comments are not altogether responsive, but:

    - Are you sure that you want to advertise your villain so clearly as a villain? A person who seems decent and courteous and human, but suddenly shows himself to be inhuman in specific areas, is to me more chilling than someone who's just an obnoxious bully. And an apparently good, decent person who suddenly betrays the protagonist is, IMO, always much more interesting than someone who's been a growling, obnoxious bad guy from the beginning.

    The value of civilized behavior in making a villain more chilling works even when the villain is clearly labelled as such from the beginning. To choose examples from movies: The guy at the beginning of Serenity, who so calmly and courteously tries to comfort his victim with the reassurance that "this is an honorable death" as he executes him, is much scarier than a snarling, growling, insult-throwing killer would be. Annie Wilkes in Misery gets much of her impact from the contrast between her nice-lady manner and the times when the crazy breaks through that manner. Hans Gruber in Die Hard was eminently civilized, most of the time. Hannibal Lector wouldn't have been nearly as scary without his civilized veneer. And so on.

    - Re the Internet being shut down, wouldn't that hamper the iron-hand government? Paper mail and old-fashioned phone wires are a lot of work to analyze; if all communication is flowing through one digital network, it's a lot easier to track and spy on.

    ChickenFreak
     
  14. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    You just brought up some great points. :) This particular person I've described is supposed to be an obvious villain, but I do have a few other characters who are what you described, "surprise villains". One of them does end up betraying the MC later on. Another is led on to be a "good guy/bad guy" type, you know, who's affilated with the bad guys but not by choice--like on "V", the aliens who disagree with the evil plans of the other aliens and want to help the humans instead. But, later on in the story it turns out that he isn't like that after all, and really is a betrayer.
    Not to give away too much--but I definitely see the value of what you're talking about. :)

    And about the Internet thing, they shut it down to stop the free-flow of information. They do use other ways to spy...cameras in houses, for one. :)

    Your questions are very responsive and helpful, and you bring up great points. Thanks a ton for sharing.
     

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