Andy Peloquin – Andy Peloquin

Andy Peloquin

I am an artist – words are my palette

Author: Andy Peloquin (Page 1 of 56)

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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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The Ultimate Guide to Villains and Antagonists in Fiction

I LOVE villains! Better put, I love writing villains.

While the heroes are the ones we connect to in most stories, it’s really the villains and antagonists that make us care. After all, when our protagonists have to fight through impossible odds to triumph, that’s when we feel that thrill. And it’s the villains and antagonists that make the odds so “impossible”.

Think about it:

  • Without Sauron, would Frodo’s act of throwing the One Ring into the fires of Mount Doom have had any meaning?
  • Without Captain Hook, would Peter Pan have had a chance to shine with his daring, brave swordplay and clever quips?
  • Without Lord Voldemort, would Harry Potter have been anything other than a normal wizard in training?

We root for the heroes, but only because the villains and antagonists have put them in a position that we care about them.

For the next few months, I’ll be doing a series of posts on all the best types of villains and antagonists in fiction. As a fantasy writer, I’ll be putting them into the perspective of a fantasy character, but I’ll also try to find good examples from across all the genres and in popular fiction.

Below is the complete list of villains and antagonists, with a short explanation of each. I’ll be following this initial post up with weekly breakdowns of each character type, including a bit of psychological context for each to help you understand how these characters came to be and what drives them.

(Feel free to share this list—over time, I intend to make it the most comprehensive guide around!)

Villain vs. Antagonist

One thing I like to make VERY clear: villains and antagonists are not the same!

Villains are defined as “a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.” Simply put, they have evil motives or do evil things.

Antagonists are defined as “a person who actively opposes or is hostile to someone or something; an adversary.” They don’t have to be truly evil—all that matters is that they oppose your protagonist.

There can be a lot of cross-over between villains and antagonists. Your antagonist could have evil motives and do evil things. In many cases, the terms can be used interchangeably.

However, many antagonists can be inherently GOOD or have GOOD motives. All that matters is that they are opposing or hostile to your protagonist.

Understanding the distinction is very important for the list below. You can write villains that are pure evil but antagonists that are honorable and noble. Villains are a matter of morals and principles; antagonists are a matter of perspective.

If I may be so bold as to tap into my own writing, here are two good examples of villains vs. antagonists:

  1. In The Last Bucelarii (Book 1): Blade of the Destroyer, the villain is a demon seeking to return the “big bad” (Kharna, the Destroyer) to the world. The antagonist, on the other hand, is an honorable Beggar Priest trying to do his job and protect the world from demons—the fact that the Hunter is half-demon sets him at odds with the priests.
  2. In Child of the Night Guild (Queen of Thieves Book 1), the villain is a bully seeking to inflict psychological and physical pain on the main character, Ilanna. The antagonist, on the other hand, is the Praamian Guard and the Duke of Praamis—the fact that Ilanna is a thief sets her at odds with the “law and order” in the city.

See how it’s all about perspective? A villain will usually be evil to everyone around them, but an antagonist will simply be at odds with the main character due to their profession, religious beliefs, moral values, citizenship or origin, or any number of other factors.

Understanding these differences will help you approach the list of villains and antagonists below with an open mind, and may help you find some unique ways to turn these archetypes—both truly evil and simply oppositional—into fascinating, well-developed characters!

Types of Villains

These are the types of characters that could be easily defined as a straightforward VILLAIN (evil motives or actions).

Ancient Force/Ancient Evil

Based on the mythological concept of good vs. evil. Think Satan/The Devil, Shaitan from The Wheel of Time, or Lovecraft’s Cthulhu.

Read more…

Entropy/Chaos

Based on the Second Law of Thermodynamics, “The entropy of the universe tends to a maximum.” This is a force that seeks to destroy all order in the universe to return it to its natural chaotic state.

Read more…

Dastardly Whiplash

The cackling, moustache-twirling, melodramatic “evil for the sake of evil”. He tends to be exorbitantly wealthy and powerful, and uses his wealth and power to prey on the weak.

Read more…

Bully

A person who is cruel to others, often for the sake of cruelty. Bullies often tend to use cruelties to hide their fears and insecurities.

Dark Lord/Supervillain

From Sauron to the White Witch to Darth Vader, the Dark Lord or Supervillain may or may not have a tragic backstory, but they are usually evil because it’s “in their nature”.

Beast

Vampires, werewolves, snakes, dragons, Cthulhic deities, and wild animals all share one thing in common: a driving, inescapable biological imperative to be savage. Often bestial/primitive instincts overlap with the innate human tendency toward violence.

Supernatural Forces of Evil

Marvel Comics’ Nightmare and the Biblical Satan are two perfect examples: forces created/destined/fated/driven by internal/psychological imperatives to be evil.

Sadist

Someone who derives pleasure or enjoyment from the suffering of others. Psychological abuse and cold-blooded torture are their favorite weapons.

Trickster

Loki from Norse mythology and Anansi from African folktales are not “evil” by definition, but their actions trend more toward evil because of their mischievous nature.

Types of Antagonist

These character types can be used as a counterpoint for the protagonist. They can be written as “evil”, “good”, or somewhere in the shades of moral grey between. Perspective is everything when it comes to these antagonists!

Mirror

Similar or identical to the hero in most ways, they will differ in one significant way: their morality, their actions/methods, or their desires. They are chiefly used as a foil to make the protagonist/hero question their ethics and beliefs.

Authority Figure

This is any sort of figure that stands in the way of “free will”, “freedom of choice”, or “freedom of action”.

Abusive Authority Figure

This is a figure of authority (boss, parent, president, nobility, etc.) that abuses their authority and power (emotional and physical) over someone else.

Morally Corrupted

From the dirty cop to the greedy nobleman to the unethical corporation, one of our greatest fears is not being able to trust the very people we have put in positions of authority over us.

Physically Corrupted

This includes classic vampires, zombies, werewolves, ghouls, ghosts, and any other “normal” human that has been physically corrupted and turned into an antagonist by way of disease, infection, or magic spell.

Career Criminal

The thief that steals the important MacGuffin, the assassin that tries to kill the protagonist, the swindler who takes advantage of kindly old ladies, and anyone else who breaks the law—either out of desire or necessity.

The Disturbed

A broad range of emotional, psychological, mental, and physical disorders can turn “good” people to “bad”. In some cases, a physical disability could either be the result of the villainy (think Darth Vader) or the cause of it due to resentment over mistreatment by a cruel society.

Henchman

Henchmen are happy to serve whoever will give them a sense of purpose and direction. If their master is evil, they’re typically willing to follow those orders—even if it means hurting others.

Note: Some people end up “henching” because it gives them an excuse to be a Bully or Sadist, or because they are “Disturbed”.

Machine

We all fear the day that A.I.s rise up and destroy us. Often, a “machine” antagonist is one created by humankind for one purpose (to prevent war), but in their extreme logic they go too far (by eradicating mankind, the cause of war).

Forces of Nature

The hero fails to save the girl in time. The heroine plummets from the back of her dragon to fall a thousand feet to her death. The ocean destroys the good wizard’s ship. The mountains stand between the protagonist and their objective. Weather (rain, wind, snow, sleet, hail, sandstorm, etc.) cause the quest to fail.

Bureaucrats

We all HATE bureaucrats, people who are “just doing their job”. They are paragons of inflexibility and sticking to the rules. Some may use their limited power (Petty Bureaucrats) to stymie the protagonist’s efforts.

Bonus: Red tape, or the established laws and guidelines that interfere with our desires and goals.

Organizations

We’ve all got a hate-on for the IRS when they take away our hard-earned money. The organization may not be inherently villainous, but their bureaucracy or regulations interfere with our protagonists’ actions.

Criminal Organizations

From the real life “Mob” to Marvel Comics’ Sinister Six, these tend to be organizations made up of law-breakers. Often populated by Bullies, Sadists, and Henchmen, along with Career Criminals.

Crowd

Gladiator summed it up best, “The mob is fickle.” A crowd of individuals can be whipped into a frenzy of passion, anger, hatred, xenophobia, religious intolerance, sexism, bigotry, or bloodlust. Add into that the “herd mentality”, and you have a riot on your hands.

Scheming Mastermind

Men and women scheme behind the scenes to gain power, increase wealth, “get the girl/guy”, or “make the hero pay for X action”. There may be no direct confrontation until the climax, but they are the invisible hand moving all the pieces.

Dark Knight/Punisher

Some may hold a high moral/ethical code, while others resort to violence to punish the “wicked”. They may be inherently “good” characters, but their actions tend to be less “good”.

Disposed Son

Born to wealth and privilege, only to have it all ripped away, these characters are driven by resentment and a lust for the power/riches they once had. Often, they’ll seek vengeance against any they believe wronged them.

Desperado

Trapped in their life—drug addict, career criminal, or prisoner—they perform unscrupulous acts in the pursuit of one goal: survival in desperate, grim situations.

Cult of Evil/Darkness

Faceless, nameless, wearing dark hoods and chanting arcane rituals, these cults can range from genuinely evil (death cults) to genuinely good-intentioned but misguided.

Fanatic

Driven by a single mission or ideology, they are willing to do whatever it takes to achieve their goals. The end justifies the means.

Traitor

What started out as friendship, love, loyalty, or brotherhood has been twisted to the point that they are willing to betray those closest to them. Think Lex Luthor or Judas Iscariot.

Victim

“It’s not my fault.” “I did it because…” Anyone who refuses to take blame for their actions can end up in the role of antagonistic victim.

 

Note: There are many other types of villains/antagonists out there (Black Widow, Femme Fatale, Frenemy, etc.), but I felt these were the most psychologically “realistic” and plausible for a well-developed novel (fantasy or otherwise).

However, if you feel the list deserves an addition, feel free to comment below and let me know. Or, just add any comments you may have.

Please consider sharing this article—the more people that learn how to write realistic, believable, and compelling villains, the better our fiction will become!

 

 

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Book Review: Fire Eyes Awakened by R.J. Batla

It’s Book Review Wednesday (even though this post goes live on Thursday), and I’ve got a treat! This book has the classic fantasy flavor (complete with elves and dwarves and other races), but with just a hint Avatar: The Last Airbender or Mortal Kombat thrown in for good measure. One heck of a fun adventure story!

Fire Eyes Awakened

Jayton Baird worked for years to save enough for his powers to be Awakened, becoming a Senturian. Protectors of Terranum from the terrors on the West Side. This power comes with a price – Jayton becomes the most powerful Senturian Awakened in a hundred years. And the most feared.

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With an invasion imminent and a death sentence over his head, Jayton is chosen to fight in a gladiator style tournament to prevent a potent weapon from falling into the hands of an enemy bent on conquest. A team of elite warriors escorts him on the trek fraught with danger.

Can Jayton and his team survive long enough to complete his mission, or will the dark power burning inside consume him?

My Review: 4.5 Stars

I enjoyed the heck out of this book! It was a fun read, and it reminded me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender—complete with element-based powers used exactly like I remember Avatar. But it was done well enough that it didn’t feel like a rip-off or copy.

The characters were well-developed and interesting, and I loved the bits and pieces of the world of Terraunum I got in the story. The narrative style was unusual for fantasy stories, but a lot of fun to read. Don’t go into this expecting philosophical insights or thought-provoking moral quandaries—it’s an action adventure story that will keep you reading from one page to the next.

Here’s a Taste:

Everyone else moved – I just stayed put and breathed deep, gathering my power even more. It was almost like electricity running through my veins, hot and thick in my muscles and bones. The more I readied, the harder it was to contain it all. The energy wanted out. To be used.

“Twenty seconds,” Troup said in our ears. The earth actually started to rumble a little. “Ten seconds.”

Energizing my shield and sword, I felt the others do the same, saw the light from their weapons. I took a deep, steadying breath, and dropped into a fighting stance. “Here we go.”

Heat erupted from my back as Morgan let loose two huge streams of fire, each as big as a house. Orcs and ogres burst from the forest, roaring and shaking their weapons. Ice spears shot in all directions from the Water Senturians, Euless let loose with yellow energy blasts as thick as my leg, Josey and Sonora both sent blasts in various directions, Katy shot energy, and Leona fire. And me – I looked up about two stories into the face of the biggest damned troll I’d ever seen.

Twenty-feet tall, carrying a freaking tree trunk for a club, with warted and marbled, gray skin, blunted features, and no armor on at all, it gorilla-ran toward us.

I guess that was mine. Now trolls were big, but they were dumb. I was talking DUMB in all caps. Which didn’t help much when they slugged your butt over the leftfield bleachers with a tree, but hey, it was an advantage as long as they didn’t get close enough to touch you.

So I grabbed an ogre with my telekinesis and hit the troll with it.

Ogres are the bottom rung on the monster food chain – there was a whole lot of them, but as a singular entity, they didn’t pose much of a threat to a trained Senturian. So hitting a troll with one, well, that pissed a troll right off. And soured his mood to all the other ogres around him. Which he turned to snarl at. Which was when, if one were so inclined, one could hurl his returning sword, which would then impale itself in the soft spot on the back of the troll’s head, their only real weak point, right between the skull plates, and thus dispatch of said monstrosity. There, see how easy it was? Oh, you only had about three seconds to pull the whole thing off though. Forgot to mention that. Good thing I was a badass.

The troll landed with a thud, crushing an ogre in the process. The other monsters didn’t hesitate, simply swarmed around and over the dead troll to get to us.

“Nice, Jay,” Anton said in my ear.

“Jay, we’re gonna need your help!” came a call from Morgan and Royn.

Running around the circle formed by the team, firing energy blasts as I ran, I found them up to their ears in ogres, skints, and werewolves. Skints were like werewolves, only lizards.

Oh, there was a dragon, too.

Like, the big, winged lizard, fire breath, almost-impenetrable-skin type dragon. The ones that were extremely rare, and no one hardly ever saw. This particular monster happened to be black as night, huge wings folded on its back, snarling and thrashing, getting ready to take a bite out of my friends.

“I’m guessing this is mine?” I asked, turning the corner, planting my feet and hurling a boulder at the beast at the same time.

“Cor et Anima!” I said, my sword appearing in my hand. My boulder connected, right on the top of the head of the black reptile, which did about as much good as a wet paper towel.

Marlin, Celeste, and Arp kept up a barrage of ice spears, water jets, and steam blasts, forcing many of the ogres and other creatures to dive for cover. Anton launched attacks as well, which boded well, since he wouldn’t be in attack mode if Gilmer needed help.

The dragon’s attention, thanks to the boulder, swung to me.

What I meant to do? Yes.

Did I underestimate the scary factor? You bet your ass.

Thirty foot black wings snapped open, knocking over ogres and werewolves too slow to get out of the way. Black scales a foot in diameter glistened in the sunlight, powerful legs ending in three-foot-long talons dug into the earth. It turned and screamed at me and my eardrums almost burst. Clapping my hands to my ears, I was frozen in place.

Which was exactly what it was waiting for. A huge stream of fire burst from its open maw past the hundreds of dagger teeth. Dashing to the side, I barely escaped the inferno, but my arm stung. The dragon saw me in my new position, took a deep breath, and fired. Again, I had to dodge, but this time I kept running, bringing its line of fire away from my friends.

“Jay, we need help,” Celeste cried.

“A little busy,” I replied, dodging a fireball, parrying a talon with my sword, and generally trying to stay alive. Someone screamed somewhere – I couldn’t tell who. Not knowing what else to do, I sheathed my sword, brought both hands up at the same time – one with dirt, the other with water. “Here’s mud in your eye!” I said, slamming the mixture into the creature’s face.

Yeah, it roared. And yeah, it was scary. But it bought me time.

“Who screamed?” I said through our communicator, turning and running, though not knowing where.

“Josey,” Sonora said. “She’s been hit with some kind of javelin. I’m holding them off as best I… ugh –”

“Sonora!”

About the Author:

I’m R.J. Batla, author of AGAINST THE BEAST and FIRE EYES AWAKENED, with future books well underway.

I’ve always been fascinated by fantasy novels and the worlds that authors create, and have been an avid fan and reader since I picked up the Chronicles of Narnia as a kid. The process of creating my own has been long, but it has been well worth it! I hope people can enjoy the books as much as I’ve enjoyed creating them.

Fantasy Author, Christian, husband, and father, I enjoy everything outdoors and spend as much time as I can with my family and friends.

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B073TC2Y8F

Goodreads

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35671211-fire-eyes-awakened

Read Ryan’s thoughts on his website: rjbatla.com

Tweet at him: @RJBatlaAuthor

Connect via Facebook: fb.me/rjbatlaauthor

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The Eight Qualities of Personality Disorders

As many of you know, I’m fascinated by all things neurological, psychological, and emotional. Since my ASD diagnosis a few years ago, I’ve loved studying more about the human brain, mind, and psyche—both what makes us tick like healthy clocks, and what throws off the inner works. This, of course, includes personality disorders.

I found this fascinating article on Psychology Today that lists the eight qualities of personality disorders. These include:

  • Domineering
  • Vindictive
  • Cold
  • Socially avoidant
  • Nonassertive
  • Exploitable
  • Overly nurturant
  • Intrusive

What’s interesting is that most of the personality disorders listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) feature two or more of these traits. But the specific combination of traits change according to the type of disorder.

People with Paranoid disorders tend to be vindictive or cold.

People with Schizoid disorders tend to combine social avoidance with a sort of coldness. Schizoid individuals are far less likely to try to exploit you than others on this list.

People with Schizotypal disorders tend to combine coldness, vindictiveness, and avoidance. These people are usually to be odd, eccentric, and socially awkward.

People with Antisocial disorders tend to be highly domineering, vindictive, and intrusive, and often can be cold. These are the “extreme of the psychopathic personality”.

People with Borderline disorders tend to be intrusive and vindictive.

People with Histrionic disorders tend to be domineering and intrusive, but NOT socially avoidant or cold.

People with Narcissistic disorders tend to be domineering, intrusive, cold, and vindictive.

People with Avoidant disorders tend to be socially avoidant and cold, but very unlikely to be intrusive or domineering.

People with Dependent disorders tend to be highly intrusive, with almost no risk of domineering personalities. They’re also highly exploitative and vindictive.

People with Obsessive-compulsive disorders can feature any combination of the eight. According to the article, “Individuals who fit the criteria of excessive perfectionism, inflexibility, and restricted expression of emotions may have trouble at work or in relationships. They may also, however, achieve higher status and wealth, as other research has indicated. There’s a trade-off, then, when an individual has such an extreme work ethic that he or she may pay less attention to relationships.”

 

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Book Review: Coilhunter by Dean Wilson

For Book Review Wednesday, I’ve something a bit unusual. It’s a classic Western-style story (complete with runaway mine cart!), but with elements of steampunk thrown in. Definitely a book worth reading if you want to try something new.

Coilhunter

Welcome to the Wild North, a desolate wasteland where criminals go to hide—if they can outlast the drought and the dangers of the desert. Or the dangers of something else.

Meet Nox, the Coilhunter. A mechanic and toymaker by trade, a bounty hunter by circumstance. He isn’t in it for the money. He’s in it for justice, and there’s a lot of justice that needs to be paid.
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Between each kill, he’s looking for someone who has kept out of his crosshairs for quite a while—the person who murdered his wife and children. The trail has long gone cold, but there are changes happening, the kind of changes that uncover footprints and spent bullet casings.

Plagued by nightmares, he’s made himself into a living one, the kind the criminals and conmen fear.

So, welcome, fair folk, to the Wild North. If the land doesn’t get you, the Coilhunter will.

My Review: 5 Stars

I didn’t know what to expect from this novel, as I’m not a huge fan of Westerns. But I LOVED this book from start to finish!

It had the gritty, grim feel of a classic spaghetti Western, but the addition of the steampunk elements made it truly fantastical. It was one of those books that kept me turning the pages—I literally read the entire book in two or three sittings.

Not only was it a lot of fun, but the character of the Coilhunter was very well-developed. I loved his way of speaking (again, classic spaghetti Western mannerisms and expressions), but it was the deeper character elements that made him a character I could truly sympathize with. I can’t wait to dive into Rustkiller, the second part in this series.

Here’s a Taste:

His boots made a rhythmic thud against the floor, drawing the attention of everyone in the room. His boots were the first thing you noticed. Then the eyes travelled up, saw the long, deep blue coat and the holstered pistols, and turned away swiftly again when they spotted the mask and tubes beneath that deep blue hat.

Thud.

The people who recognised him had a dozen different names for him, and all of them were grim. The Coilhunter. The Sandsweeper. The Masked Menance. The people who didn’t recognise him would come up with new names of their own very soon.

Thud.

He kept an even pace, slow and steady, the kind of pace that was at odds with the frantic heartbeats of the onlookers at the inn. One of his arms swung like a pendulum, and it reminded people of the fleeting pace of time. The other arm did not move at all; it stayed at his side, close to his gun.

Thud.

A little mechanical duck waddled along behind him, creaking and squeaking, its wide eyes matching those of the people who dared to look. It was a toy, a kind of wind-up device full of springs and cogs, and yet many knew that it was a dangerous toy.

Thud.

He scoured the room with his eyes, piercing everyone, almost piercing the walls as well. The mask accentuated his stare, as did the black lines around his eyes. The brim of his hat cast a shadow that made the whites of his eyes stand out even more.

The final thud seemed a little louder. He halted, then reached for his coat pocket, and people flinched. He held up a rolled-up poster, and let it unfurl noisily in his hand, revealing the mugshot of a criminal, Old Mad Jack, the ominous word Wanted, and the prize of one hundred coils beneath. Cold, hard coils, traded for the cold, hard dead.

“This man,” he said, his voice muffled by the mask, yet not muffled enough to hide the grit. “Ya seen ‘im?” He prodded the paper with his dust-covered finger, the kind of finger exposed almost constantly to the sand and the sun. The kind of finger that spent a lot of time on a trigger.

Most heads turned away. A few braver souls gave the slightest shake of their heads. There was no one brave enough to talk. The duck shuffled up to the Coilhunter’s foot and gave an ominous little quack.

A puff of dark smoke came from a vent on the left side of the Coilhunter’s mask. No one knew why. On the other side, pipes connected the mask to a cylinder on his back, where he also kept a strapped guitar and a four-barrel shotgun.

“Ya see,” he croaked, “I know this man came this way, and there ain’t no other rum-hole for miles. They say Old Mad Jack’s a drinker, and I say a drinker cannot pass a rum-hole without poppin’ in for a drink.”

The barmaid tensed up at the bar, polishing a dirty glass a little more vigorously than before.

“So,” the Coilhunter continued, “let me repeat this, and let me tell ya that I don’t like repeatin’ things: this man … any o’ you here fine fellows seen ‘im?”

Three men playing cards in the corner exchanged nervous glances. The Coilhunter caught them, and strolled over. The duck stayed where it was in the centre of the room, watching everyone.

“You boys,” the Coilhunter said, gesturing with the chin of his mask to them. “Good game, is it?”

“J-j-just a game o’ Don,” the oldest replied, the cards trembling in his hands.

“You wan’ in?” the youngest asked. The others scolded him with their eyes.

The Coilhunter drew real close, close enough that they could see the cracks in his weathered skin. “I want an answer to my question.” He hammered the poster onto the table, over the cards. Old Mad Jack stared up at them. “Get a real good look-see, and each o’ ya tell me one by one that you ain’t seen him ‘fore I put his ugly mug down on this table.”

The youngest looked like he was about to say something. Only the stares of his companions stopped him. The Coilhunter placed a hand on his shoulder and turned his chair around. The youth held up his cards before him like a shield.

“You look like a smart boy,” the Coilhunter said. “The kind o’ boy with a good memory and a good eye. Maybe a good eye for faces. Maybe a good mouth for speakin’ who those faces are.”

“I might have—” He cut himself short, silenced by the glances of the others.

“Where’s your manners, boy? You’re talkin’ to me. You look at me.” He gestured with his hand towards his own grim eyes. The exhaust in his mask let out another menacing puff of smoke.

The young man looked back, keeping his cards up. They wouldn’t help him.

“I ain’t got all day,” the Coilhunter told him. “You ain’t got all day either.”

“H-h-he’s out b-back.”

The Coilhunter smiled. He knew they could not see it behind his mask, but they could see it in his eyes.

“He ain’t out back,” a voice said from far across the room behind him. As the Coilhunter turned, he saw Old Mad Jack standing behind the bar, rifle in hand. “He’s right here.”

 

About the Author:

Dean F. Wilson was born in Dublin, Ireland in 1987. He started writing at age 11.

He is the author of the Children of Telm epic fantasy trilogy, the Great Iron War steampunk series, the Coilhunter Chronicles science-fiction western series, the Hibernian Hollows urban fantasy series, and the Infinite Stars space opera series.

Dean previously worked as a journalist, primarily in the field of technology. He has written for TechEye, Thinq, V3, VR-Zone, ITProPortal, TechRadar Pro, and The Inquirer. He is also a USA Today & Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author.

 

Find the book on Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01N4OYM2L/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33977027/
Visit Dean’s website: http://www.deanfwilson.com

Connect with him on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/deanfwilson

Tweet at him: https://twitter.com/deanfwilson

Google+: https://plus.google.com/+DeanFWilson

 

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How to Deal with Regret

Regret is an emotion we experience as a result of an action we have taken. Specifically, we wish we hadn’t taken that action, as it led to hurt: your own or that of someone else. The action may have cost you emotionally or led to some unintended consequence or punishment. Basically, you did something, and something bad happened to you or someone else as a result.  The feelings of sorrow, guilt, anger, and hurt are your mind’s reaction: regret.

Regret can be a sign that you are an emotionally healthy person (someone who CAN feel bad for their actions—unlike sociopaths, who don’t truly feel bad). However, if regret builds up too much, it can stop you from growing as a person.  Or, it can impact your life in truly detrimental ways.

As an example, I’ll use the character Naylor from At Any Cost, one of the short stories in the Different, Not Damaged collection. Naylor carries around an overwhelming burden of regret as a result of his actions: he abandoned his friends on the night the Hunter of Voramis massacred the Bloody Hand (in Blade of the Destroyer). Even though he fled out of a desire to survive, he labors under the guilt of knowing that his friends died and he is the only one to live—also known as “Survivor’s Guilt“. Because of that guilt, he cannot lead a happy life, and he is willing to sacrifice everything in order to be free of the burden.

Regret can be a burden that follows us around every day, and it can weigh us down so much that it seems we’ll never get out from beneath it. But that doesn’t have to be the case. There are ways to deal with regret—according to an article on Psychology Today, it actually comes down to three simple attitude adjustments:

  1. Use it as a chance to learn and grow. Instead of letting the regret weigh you down, use those feelings to help you learn from your mistakes. You did something wrong, so what can you do to ensure you don’t take that same “wrong” action again in the future? Regret is the signal you’re paying attention—now it’s time to take steps to prevent it again instead of wallowing in the mire.
  2. Look at the “what ifs”. What if the small consequence or outcome was really a BIG one? What if more people got hurt? What if the action had led to irreparable damage? By thinking about the what ifs, you’ll realize that the action you regret really isn’t as big as it could have been. That doesn’t absolve you, but it does help you to be grateful that things weren’t as bad as they might have been.
  3. Be realistic about fault. How much of the situation was actually your fault? Sure, you may have taken the first step that led down a bad path, but many of the things that happened had to be out of your control. Understand your part in the regrettable situation, but learn to only accept as much guilt or blame as you are responsible for.

Regret can be a useful emotional catalyst to help you learn from your mistakes, but don’t let it weigh you down so much you are unable to move on!

 

 

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Book Review: Different, Not Damaged

As is my tradition for this Book Review Wednesday, I like to post reviews of MY books the week after they launch. Don’t worry, these aren’t reviews that I wrote—they’re all from people who actually read the book.

Different, Not Damaged

Strength from Weakness

Disability becomes Power

Six stories, one powerful message:
– A voiceless child painting visions of death.
– A killer with a deadly message plagued by a burden of guilt.
– A priestess divinely empowered to absorb others’ pain.
– A soldier fighting for courage in the face of fear.
– A broken warrior-priest on a mission of vengeance.
– A thief desperate to escape the burden of his memories.
Betrayed by mind or body, these people struggle to survive in a grim world that takes no pity on the weak. Yet they will discover that they are simply different, not damaged.

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Reviews:

This is one of those books that leaves you wanting more. I thoroughly enjoyed reading this unique book…You could feel the characters feelings, emotions, and most of all… their struggles. You could feel how courageous and brave they all were. After reading through the stories…I ended up focusing on the characters not the disability portrayed. – Stacy Stewart, 5 Stars

At first I found these stories painful to read; at least the first few were. But gradually as I let the stories flow over me, I realised that they were extremely well written; each bringing me, via fantasy, into another way of seeing reality. Each story opening up avenues into worlds I had little experience of. Each story testing me in a way. Testing my ability to accept what was different but not damaged. – R. Wheeler, 4 Stars

Set in his world of Voramis, the author has created an anthology which delves into the lives of people with a range of disabilities. Rather than take the easy route, they are portrayed as tragic heroes, who must deal with the cruel world (and Voramis is a cruel world) and well as the rough hand life has thrown them. There are no happy endings here (well, not in the traditional sense), so don’t read for a feelgood experience. However, if you like you fantasy pitch-dark, with no punches pulled, then check out “Different, Not Damaged.” – Al Burke, 5 Stars

 

Check it out on Amazon

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