December 2017 – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Month: December 2017

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The Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Dastardly Whiplash

Snidely Whiplash.

Darken Rahl.

Colonel Sebastian Moran.

From cackling, moustache-twirling, and melodramatic to pompous, arrogant, power-hungry nobleman or ruler, the Dastardly Whiplash is simply “evil for the sake of evil”. They use their wealth and power to prey on the weak for their own amusement or enrichment.

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Dastardly Whiplash: The Origin

This character type originally started out as the melodramatic foil to the straight and somber hero—like Snidely Whiplash from the Dudley Do-Right cartoon series.

  • In British literature, he was typically a minor nobleman of some sort, usually scheming to gain power or riches.
  • In American literature, he was typically a man of wealth and power: banker, oil baron, real estate mogul, railroad tycoon, etc.

His appearance was always pretty standard:

  • Evil-looking features—long nose, dark and shifty eyes, and an exaggerated chin
  • Black top hat and other accessories (gloves, cane, etc.)
  • Curling black moustache or similarly “evil” facial hair
  • Old-fashioned suit with cloak used for dramatic flourishes

He is typically evil for evil’s sake. Even when given the chance to make the right decision, he’ll typically cackle, rub his hands, and do the most ridiculous things for the sake of foiling the hero—the things that ultimately foil his own plans or lead to his untimely demise.

The problem with this villain type is that it’s incredibly one-dimensional. People are rarely evil just because they enjoy it (like the “Chaotic Evil” alignment of Dungeons and Dragons). Instead, a well-developed character will typically have an explanation as to how they can rationalize their “evil” actions. They tend to be amoral or have a twisted morality rather than simply a desire to commit evil.

An article on Psychology Today has an interesting explanation of “evil”:

“Evil people are those who are unable to empathize with others. As a result, their own needs and desires are of paramount importance. They are selfish, self-absorbed and narcissistic. In fact, other people only have value for them to the extent that they can help them satisfy their own desires, or to which they can exploit them. This applies to dictators like Stalin and Hitler, and to serial killers and rapists. Their primary characteristics is an inability to empathize with others. They can’t sense other people’s emotions or their suffering, can’t see the world from other people’s perspective, and so have no sense of their rights. Other human beings are just objects to them, which is what makes their brutality and cruelty possible.

This is usually the explanation behind the “Dastardly Whiplash” character.

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In Stories:

The perfect example of a well-developed “Dastardly Whiplash” is the Grinch from the 2000 film How the Grinch Stole Christmas. While the Grinch initially is portrayed as a character who is “evil for the sake of evil”, the movie gives a glimpse into how he became so: as a result of being bullied for his unusual appearance. He became the Grinch as a result of his mistreatment, not as a choice.

Darken Rahl from the Sword of Truth series is another similar character, as are most of the villains from that series.

Sherlock Holmes’ antagonist Colonel Sebastian Moran is another excellent example.

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Guest Post: The 9 Perils of Writerhood

 Today, I’m fortunate to have a guest post written by my good friend (and EPIC beta reader) Rosie Bates. A writer in her own right, she has a few words of (humorous) wisdom on what to expect when taking up the author’s path…

The 9 Perils of Writerhood

Thinking about taking up writing? As a hobby, or maybe a career? Well, be warned. You are about to pursue a perilous occupation. A vortex of chaos, creativity and solitude that will suck you into its inescapable depths. Writing is not for the faint-hearted.

On your journey you will encounter submission guidelines, internet trolls and *gasp* reading fees. If you are lucky enough to get away from them unscathed, you are still destined to fall victim to the countless dangers of writing. Although for the sake of time-saving let’s say there are nine.

The Curse of the Grammar Nazi

With proficiency in the written word comes an impulse to correct people’s grammar and spelling; a practice that is universally frowned upon. In no small part because it’s a little bit condescending even if it does clear up some outrageous uses of the English language.

As the rest of the world demands you keep your mouth shut, you will be forced to stew in your exasperation for eternity. Although, where the internet’s prying eyes cannot see, you will be safe to unleash your new curse. The household shopping lists will be impeccable, one way or another.

Demonic Possession

Short of floating out of bed and babbling in tongues, you wouldn’t believe you were being possessed at all. That’s what the Demons want you to think.

We believe the characters we create and grow to love are under our control. But they get under our skin, into our heads and control our thoughts. Whilst innocently daydreaming some dialogue for your new imaginary friends, their words will come tumbling out of your mouth quite without your permission. At dinner, on the tube, at the library, in the middle of an important interview. At every conceivable inconvenient movement. So don’t be surprised if you come home to an intervention one day with a demonologist and a priest siting in.

Imagination Fatigue

The adrenaline rush of an idea grabbing you and running away is like nothing else. Your wedding day or that big promotion all pale in comparison to this thrill. Spending several hours on a whirlwind adventure in your own brain and putting it to paper is an excitement that has lured many a writer into its eternal clutches. However, after any epic high, there is an inevitable crash. When you’re finished with that flash of productivity, your brain will feel like an exploded water balloon. You’ll be lucky if you can think up what to have for dinner.

Legal Trouble

Writers research everything. How else are you supposed to craft realistic crime dramas and historical romances? Nobody’s that confident in their estimations of an autopsy to start writing about it without looking it up in a search engine first. Those Google searches are not for the squeamish.

As a result of your curiosity, your internet histories become weird and wonderful collections of web pages you’ve clicked on in the pursuit of piecing your work together realistically. They also become article one in your murder trials if your enemies are vengeful enough.

Whilst at the time your search on the world’s deadliest poisons was perfectly innocent, it may not look that way when there’s a dead body in your living room with all the signs of cyanide poisoning. Moral of the story, don’t be a writer. If you really must be a writer, then be sure to make no enemies who might be motivated enough to frame you for murder. As our next point explains, that may not be a problem anyway.

Dying a Social Death

Writing isn’t merely a hobby, it’s a lifestyle. It gets into every nook and cranny of your life, including the social sector. Coffees with friends make way for editor’s deadlines. Brainstorming sessions instead of hosting the parents. Losing your mind perfecting a scene instead of sleeping.

Your friends and family begin to question whether you ever existed or if you were just a figment of their imaginations. Until one day you finally show up to a birthday party and dole out a few heart attacks.

Keyboard Burn

When inspiration hits, you won’t be able to get the words down fast enough. So beware when speed typing, for your fingertips may burn on the red-hot keys. That best-seller in the making will gather dust at the back of your hard-drive whilst you enjoy the delight that is hospital food.

Irritable Scowl Syndrome

Writing takes peace and quiet. But the quietest times are the best someone bursts into your study exclaiming that they need their dry cleaning done, there are no jam tarts left or the house is on fire. Sigh.

Be warned, the first interruption will not be the last because when it’s OK to barge in once, it’s always OK. Such is the logic of serial interrupters. You will begin to develop a fearsome scowl upon hearing the words “Just before you sit down…” or “Are you busy?” that will send any enquirers scurrying in the other direction.

As these interruptions happen more and more (and rest assured, they will) this scowl will become your default expression for anything you even remotely disapprove of. Your reputation will be forever tainted and you will be remembered as a terrifying individual. Or perhaps that’s what you were aiming for.

Repetitive Name Injury

There’s names you like, and names you don’t. The names you give our characters you often love. That’s why it’s difficult to give these beloved names to only one character. Where does the injury come in? When you’re bashing your head against the wall trying to think of new ones that sound just as good.

Addiction

Drugs are bad, kids, and writing is one of the hardest highs out there. It starts out innocent, just a short story or two in the privacy of home, but it doesn’t take long for this to escalate. You’ll start holing yourself up in your study penning novels and sketching settings. Soon enough, you’ll be writing on the train to work, and in the car waiting for your kids to get out of school. Write long enough and no rehab on Earth can help you return to the way things used to be.

 

About the Author

Rosanna Bates was born in Worcester, England at the height of baggy jeans and boy band popularity. Her childhood was spent reading and writing stories she was too embarrassed to show anyone. To date, she has had short stories and flash fiction published with 101words.org, The Fiction Pool, and Anti-Heroin Chic, and is currently preparing her debut novel for future publication.

Follow her on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rosiebateswritingforlife/

Follow her on Twitter: https://twitter.com/bates_rosie

 

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The Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Entropy/Chaos

Azazoth.

Apep.

Eris.

These names may be unfamiliar, but they all speak of one thing: chaos.

They are the embodiment of entropy, disorder, and the chaos inherent in all things. They seek to restore the universe to a state of chaos, the way it was BEFORE creation brought order. Perhaps not fully “evil” in the way we perceive it, but their intentions (the undoing of all things) leads to “evil” outcomes for everyone. Thus, they are the ultimate villains!

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Chaos: The Origin

The “Chaos” villain is actually a mixture of science and mythology.

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that, “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.” To put it simply, the universe is always trying to return to a natural entropic or chaotic state, but it is only our efforts to organize, define, and coordinate that keep everything from devolving.

Most ancient civilizations viewed chaos as “the nothingness at the beginning of the world”. In their view, the gods brought order to the universe, and there is this nameless, faceless force of “nothingness” that is seeking to restore the universe to its natural state before the gods intervened.

Egyptian mythology had the god Apep, the giant serpent that was the embodiment of chaos and the antagonist to Ma’at, “the ancient Egyptian concepts of truth, balance, order, harmony, law, morality, and justice, and the personification of these concepts as a goddess regulating the stars, seasons, and the actions of both mortals and the deities, who set the order of the universe from chaos at the moment of creation.”

On a smaller scale, Greek mythology had the goddess Eris (in Roman mythology, she was named Discord). She was the reason for the Trojan War, and she sought to bring strife and discord among men.

Chaos is more than just an Ancient Evil (see the previous post on Ancient Evils)—it’s a force of nature as immutable as time and space, one that is ever seeking to reclaim its own. It’s typically used as an opposing force to law and order, as well as to creation and life itself. If these primeval beings of chaos succeeded, the universe would cease to exist and all things would be entropy.

This taps into our most primal fears:

Fear of extinction. When the universe is unmade, no trace of our families, race, world, or universe will remain. It is the most drastic form of extinction possible!

Fear of loss of autonomy. In the face of these ancient, all-powerful beings of chaos, there is nothing we can do to prevent the total eradication of life as we know it. Thus, we are totally powerless—entrapped in a doomsday scenario from which there is no escape.

With beings of Chaos, there is no ambivalence: they want to put an end to order in the universe as we know it. Thus, though they are simply playing to their nature, they are the ultimate “evil” because their triumph would mean to total undoing of everything.

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In Stories:

Chaos has appeared in modern fantasy:

  • Tolkien’s Silmarillian talked of a void, from which Eru, the Middle Earth version of God who created all things.
  • Lovecraft’s Cthulhu mythos has many beings of chaos: Azathoth, the “Nuclear Chaos” and Nyarlathotep, the “Crawling Chaos”, and Xexanoth, the Lurking Chaos.
  • Stephen King’s The Dark Tower series had the Prim, a force of chaos that would return if the Tower ever were to fall.

On a Large Scale:

The ancient, universe-destroying creatures of Chaos tend to be the ultimate evil, the god worshipped by the Evil Cult, and the big, bad threat looming in the background of the story. Though they tend to have mortals doing their bidding, they are the ultimate horror that will be perpetrated upon the world if the hero doesn’t succeed in stopping the villain.

On the Small Scale:

Chaos can also be used as a minor antagonist. Similar to the way Eris, goddess of strife, received power as a result of the discord she sowed, so too antagonists can become more powerful due to small-scale chaos (on a city-wide, nationwide, or world-wide amount of chaos, rather than the total unmaking of the universe).

For example:

  • Warmongers profit from causing two countries/kingdoms to go to war
  • Evil races flourish when the “good” races fight each other, or they just enjoy violence
  • People suffer and die from political and/or religious chaos tearing their city/country/kingdom apart

 

Whether chaos is on a cosmic scale or street level, it is a force that must be battled by the protagonists, champions of law and order.

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The Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists: Ancient Evil

Satan.

Sauron.

Cthulhu.

These names immediately bring to mind ancient forces dedicated to one thing: evil.

For thousands/millions of years or “since the earliest age”, these supernatural, supreme beings have operated under the agenda of bringing death, despair, oblivion, and other evils. Whether they were created for evil purposes or simply always existed as the evil counterpoint to good, there is no ambivalence to them. They are EVIL—full on, unrelenting, deathless evil.

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Ancient Evils: The Origin

The concept of evil is as old as humanity itself. Civilizations as old as Ancient Egypt had Isfet, a god of disorder and violence that fought to kill the sun god Ra. Judaism perceives evil as a result of man’s bad actions. Platonic philosophy states that “evil does not exist as a substance or property but instead as a privation of substance, form, and goodness”.

But the origin of this “Ancient Evil villain” has its roots in two of the five primary fears common among all humans: fear of extinction and fear of loss of autonomy.

Fear of Extinction – Imagine a being so powerful that it could kill or even “unmake” you with the blink of an eye or the snap of their god-like fingers.

Fear of Loss of Autonomy – What could you, a single mortal, do to stop a god/supernatural/cosmic being from destroying our world/universe/reality? If such a being existed, we would have no control of our circumstances.

These two fears are the primary driving force behind the horror of the Ancient Evil. But there’s a third: the fear of the unknown.

Zombies are terrifying because they take something familiar (humans, friends, family, etc.) and twist them into something grotesque. It’s not the shambling, rotting corpses that are scary—it’s the shambling, rotting corpses of people we KNOW and LOVE that’s terrifying.

Belief in a Higher Power, Supreme Being, or Ultimate is something that unifies nearly all humans on the planet. Whether you call the being God, Yahweh, Allah, or Rufus, most of us believe in some sort of higher power or divinity to some extent. Given all the marvels in the world and universe around us, it’s hard not to believe in something greater than us. Even the world’s most renowned scientists agree that there is a possibility a God-like being exists.

Now comes the terrifying part: what if that God-like being WASN’T a good, loving god of mercy and peace? What if they were a god that wanted to bring death, suffering, chaos, and oblivion?

Whatever the reason for the Ancient Evil’s existence—to balance the gods of good, to bring chaos to the universe, or to destroy for their own malicious purposes—it is enough to know that their actions will be perceived as “villainous”. They cannot be bargained or reasoned with. There is no fighting them or holding them off. They simple ARE, and they intend to bring DOOM (all caps!) to the world.

In stories:

These Ancient Evils are typically used as the ultimate villain/antagonist.

  • If Frodo didn’t bring the One Ring to Mount Doom, Sauron would have regained all the might of the twenty magical Rings of Power and been absolutely unstoppable.
  • The Great Old Ones are the eternally threatening presence looming in the background of H.P. Lovecraft’s works.
  • Terry Pratchett introduced us to the “Dungeon Dimensions”, a background threat to those who use magic incorrectly.

They tend to be the greatest threat to the heroes, but will rarely be the primary villain/antagonist. Mostly, there are less powerful men and creatures seeking to summon/unlock the cage/open the gateway for these Ancient Evils to enter the world. The protagonists have to stop the primary villains/antagonists from unleashing this evil on their world. After all, saving the world is just part of the job, right?

 

Go back to the main list of villains and antagonists…

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