Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Villain's Viewpoint

I've spent most of the past two days writing (woohoo for days off!) and one of the things that I've been toying with since finishing Major Edit One of CALLARION AT NIGHT is writing some chapters from the villain's perspective.

Now, let me tell you a bit about Lord Premier Lucian Rombard -- the antagonist of CaN. His wife, Josephine, was murdered about two decades ago by half-satyr brigands who attacked her while she was on the road to the nearby kingdom of Fantova (my country that's based on Russia). He went a little cuckoo after her death, became addicted to painkillers, and fell in with the Brotherhood of Purity. The Brotherhood's message of eradicating the half-nymphs and half-satyrs appealed to him, seeing as he thought King Johannes should've been more brutal in his sentencing of the brigands responsible for Josephine's death.

The benefit to writing some chapters in Lucian's perspective is get to communicate some information earlier than I would if I stayed in Moriah's head throughout the entire story. It also, I think, gives me a chance to include more steampunk in a different setting and include additional interaction that shows Rombard's insanities quite clearly.

Now, I find villains fascinating -- sometimes more than the hero -- and I relish the chance to get to play around in their viewpoint on occasion. But I wonder if it's something that would add to or detract from the story if I included two to five chapters written with Rombard as the viewpoint character and not Moriah. I think the story flows fine without said chapters, but I'm interested in your opinion loyal blog readers.

Do you like reading things from the villain's perspective now and again? Or do you prefer to stick with the hero all the way through?

10 comments:

Bane of Anubis said...

I think if it flows well, I definitely like other perspectives. I tend to write from 1 POV or a balanced dual protagonist POV... TLCC was a departure for me and flow from POV to POV was definitely a big concern of mine.

Matthew Delman said...

Believe it or not, writing in one POV all the way through a story is not something I'm used to. Of course, I also consciously limited myself in the story I wanted to tell ... so that helped.

Deb@RGRamblings said...

I love to hate the villian and I think it heightens the fear factor when you include their POV.

There's a deeper evil that you can impart when you get right inside their heads...

Stephanie Thornton said...

I think a few chapters from Lucian's POV would add to the story. I prefer multiple POV's simply because you learn a lot about the protagonist when viewing her from other's eyes.

Gary Corby said...

Switch to Rombard, but only if you intend to make his character growth an important part of the tale.

The reason to write from a certain POV is either because the POV character is a subject of our interest, in which case we're going to see character growth, or because you want us to see a second character from the POV's perspective. Like for example we always see Holmes from Watson's POV because Watson represents the average man, whereas it would be brutal inside Holmes' head.

So this statement worries me:

The benefit to writing some chapters in Lucian's perspective is get to communicate some information earlier than I would if I stayed in Moriah's head throughout the entire story.

...because you seem to be saying you're switching purely to deliver exposition. Which would be evil.

Whereas this statement makes me feel happy:

Now, I find villains fascinating -- sometimes more than the hero -- and I relish the chance to get to play around in their viewpoint on occasion.

...because it sounds like you want to tell us why Rombard is evil and explore his character.

After all this, I would actually like to know why Rombard is evil.

Adam Heine said...

Hm, Gary said essentially what I was thinking. If the purpose is exposition, avoid it. But if the villain has his own arc, or there is some other reason (in addition to exposition) to add those scenes, then go ahead.

I haven't spent much time applying it to my own work, but I hear every scene should be doing more than one thing, otherwise it should be scrapped/combined into other scenes. So I hear.

Matthew Delman said...

Gary and Adam --

There's actually not that much exposition in the two Rombard chapters that are already written. Moriah is mentioned, but he dismisses her as a minor annoyance almost immediately each time.

What I'm more concerned with is the development of this guy as progressively more insane over the course of the novel, to the point where you meet him at the end -- functionally drunk and, for lack of a better term, bats*** crazy.

So it is an exploration of his character arc, but it also provides to the reader more detail on some things that Moriah only hears about from other people (i.e. Rombard's nephew Gabriel).

I hope that assuaged both your fears about my (evil) plans.

MeganRebekah said...

I love villains!
More specifically, I love to play with the line that blurs good and evil. I'm trying to setup all my characters in shades of grey, each action they make taking them closer to one side or the other without ever being completely bad or completely good.

When writing I like to stick with one POV because then the reader doesn't have any more knowledge than the MC. But that doesn't stop me from writing scenes from the POV of different characters, just for my own benefit.

Jenna said...

Oh - tough one. The novels that I read tend to be a little more on the fluffy side and they usually stick with the heroine's view point.

Rick Daley said...

I don't mind different POV as long as the shifts are clear. If you do it, though, you need to make sure it has balance with the rest of the story. If it's 95% protag and 5% antag, then it may seem disruptive to the narravtive and out-of-place. The 80/20 rule would probably apply here (80% of your time of the protag, 20% on the antag).

In SILENCE OF THE LAMBS the main story focused on Clarice, but there were passages dedicated to Buffalo Bill, for example.