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V is for Villain

One of my greatest writing pleasures is meeting a new villain! They are some of my most favorite people in all of fiction – books, movies, tv shows. So much so that I used to have a problem with my antagonists overshadowing the main characters. If anyone has ever found themselves in a similar situation, weย fix that pairing the villains with more interesting “heroes.” People who are just as fascinating, if not more.

In my current project, who the “bad guy” is a little harder to decipher than usual. Dare I say, I don’t have a “bad guy” in the story at all! It’s a matter of interpretation, of course, but I see the antagonist in “Winter’s Siren” as a state of being. Specifically, suffering.

Without being super spoilery, one of the things I hated about the live action Cinderella was the fact that Cinderella didn’t have to suffer very long. I could maintain a sickeningly sweet disposition, too, if I only had to “suffer” for a few months.

Honestly, let’s look at dear Ella’s version of suffering versus the animated version and the original fairy tale.

Live Action: Three months of being called “ashy” and being bossed around and oh no! You can’t go to the fancy ball because your bratty stepsisters tore a sleeve off your mother’s ugly dress? Life is so hard for you. ๐Ÿ™„
Animated: Several years of being belittled and emotionally and mentally abused. Can’t go to the fancy ball after working like a dog all day to make a modest dress that is LITERALLY ripped to shreds. Then she has a heap of pointless chores dumped on her head. Disney is too PG to say what the consequences for not doing those chores are, but we all know her stepmother was beating the crap out of her.
Grimm: Several years of being kicked, insulted, and treated like a common sewer rat.

So, live action Ella is a weak, whiny, loser.

Anyway.ย While on the topic of villains and Disney, one of my favorite villains of all time is Ursula, the sea witch. She’s brilliant, powerful, manipulative, and PURPLE! If I had to be a Disney villain, I’d want to be Ursula. Only I’d get away with it because I’d tie Eric up in my room instead of trying to marry him. If he’s tied up he can’t stab me with the trident and I win!! Muhahaha. ^_^

Speaking of “The Little Mermaid,” if I was a Disney princess, I would also be Ariel. That is exactly the kind of mess I would have gotten myself into at her age.

In the fairy tale version of this story, it would be easy to point to the sea hag as the only antagonist, but might I point out that there’s another antagonist in “The Little Mermaid” (both fairy tale and movie). And that antagonist is longing and obsession. If Ariel wasn’t so obsessed with Eric (not that I blame her), she wouldn’t have gone to the sea witch in the first place.

Therefore, Ursula is not the only antagonist. She may not even be the antagonist at all! She could be an agent working with the antagonist. After all, Ursula couldn’t get her purple hands on the trident without Ariel’s obsession. Because Ariel wasn’t just obsessed with Eric, she was obsessed with people in general and their stuff. She was also obsessed with the pursuit of knowledge. It made her curious and curiosity and longing and obsession led her to Eric. Who she also became obsessed with because that’s what people who obsess about stuff do.

None of this makes Ursula blameless. She knew Ariel was obsessed with crap and baited her the first chance she got. Get it? Baited. ๐Ÿ˜€

In the upcoming “The Puppet Box,” a similar argument could be made for the main antagonists being more abstract. After all, aren’t antagonists to blame for the vast majority of the conflict in a story? In the movie “Twister” it’s a tornado. In “The Little Mermaid” it’s obsession. In “The Puppet Box,” I could say it’s dissatisfaction. Because without it, there wouldn’t be a story to tell. Yes, there’s an Ursula-like agent feeding off the emotion, but the villain in “The Puppet Box” wouldn’t be involved in my main character’s life if she hadn’t been so unhappy when they met.

What do you think? Am I just being crazy here?

Before I go, quick THANK YOUย to everyone who helped out with my cover reveal last week!! ๐Ÿ’œ #allthefeels ^_^


    • Krystal Jane

      ^_^ I cannot wait to get started on it! Well, re-started. I already have the document pulled up on my computer. Haha. I love all the villains! But my favorites are definitely the multi-faceted ones.

  • Crystal Collier

    Obviously I love complicated villains who can win your heart even while destroying the lives of characters you are rooting for. They’re the best. But yes, there does need to be a clear division as to who is the good guy and the bad. (I could totally see you as Ursula. If I had to be a villain, I would totally be Maleficent…because, duh! Dragon powers?)

    • Krystal Jane

      Obviously! ^_^ Complicated villains rock my world! And I love Maleficent! The way she transforms into that dragon is what story dreams are made of. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Sunflower Michelle

    See, I’m not that great at coming up with villains–I tend to think of my stories as realistically as possible and in most instances, in real life, there isn’t necessarily a villain but a lot of gray area. *Although* Victoria’s story, whenever I get back to it, clearly has a villain–Conrad, who is spoiled and vacillates and is smarmy.

    • Krystal Jane

      Smarmy. ^_^ Conrad is a great villain. Every story can’t have a clear antagonist, but every story has some kind of opposition. Even memoirs. I’m clearly in the realm of wild and crazy, but gray areas are still my favorite. They’re more unsettling. ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Thea Landen

    Villains are fun! It seems that in a lot of what I write, the real antagonist is a situation, not a person, but every now and then I manage to work in a true villain. Sometimes it takes a little while for me to remember that not every character has to be likable, but once I pass that point, watch out! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • Krystal Jane

      Situation antagonists are fun. My current project is probably the first time my supposed antagonist isn’t threatening or trying to kill anyone. Haha. Experimenting is great. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • tyreanmartinson

    I think the main antagonist in The Little Mermaid is her obsession, for sure, and Ursula is an awesome villain, although the first animated version of the story (which stayed true to the depressing ending from the Anderson story) made in the 70s had an Ursula who scared me as a kid. I don’t remember what she looked like actually but I found the Disney Ursula to be far more fun to watch on screen. Maybe this is just the difference between a kid and being an adult, but I don’t know.
    I still like all the versions of Cinderella you mentioned. I guess I assumed that more time passed in the Cinderella live-action movie although the dress ripping scene was a disappointment, considering how well it was done in the animated movie. I like the sauciness of the fairy godmother in the live-action movie and I thought the ball was stunning – even if the steps to the castle were on the side of ridiculous. Cinderella would have showed up at midnight after all of those steps.

    • Krystal Jane

      I do like a grand staircase. ๐Ÿ™‚ I did like Cinderella’s dress in the live action. And I liked the fairy godmother. I just wish that scene hadn’t been so rushed. That whole spiel was very disappointing. I have a copy of the original animated Little Mermaid. It was favorite movie until Disney’s version came along, even though that other version is so depressing! I’ve seen it about 50 times, I’m sure. Or more. I’m so glad I’m not the only one who feels that way about Ariel’s obsession! It was done so well, too.

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