[INFP] How to write a cruel/villainous character? - Page 2

How to write a cruel/villainous character?

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This is a discussion on How to write a cruel/villainous character? within the INFP Forum - The Idealists forums, part of the NF's Temperament Forum- The Dreamers category; @ burningsoul Have you seen the recent Joker ​ movie yet? (Not really a spoiler, but just in case)   ...

  1. #11

    @burningsoul

    Have you seen the recent Joker​ movie yet?

    (Not really a spoiler, but just in case)

     
    There a scene where the Joker gets condemned for committing murder. The Joker responded something to the effect of "why should I care about those people I killed? None of you would care if I was murdered on the streets!"


    I think that's a good insight into the mind of a cruel/villainous character. A character like the Joker believes his actions are justified, no matter how morally reprehensible he may behave. He has dreams and goals like the rest of us, the only difference is characters like him don't play by any rules.

    A trick I think to writing a good villain is to make the character somewhat relatable/sympathetic to your audience, versus writing a caricature villain who does evil for the heck of it. If really successful, some of your audience may not even consider your villain to really be the "bad guy" of your story.

    An example that comes to mind is the alien character Scorpius from the TV show Farscape. On the surface he appears to be the typical villain: he has no qualms with torturing and/or killing people. However, upon closer examination his character is a bit more complex. He's the product of a brutal rape, he was tortured constantly as a child, and the only life he's known is "the strong survives and the weak dies". His ultimate goal isn't personal power, but rather to save his mother's species from being exterminated. If he needs to kill or torture to accomplish this goal he'll do it, but he will also cooperate and negotiate to succeed as well.
    burningsoul and PsychReviews thanked this post.

  2. #12

    @flamesabers

    I did see Joker. In this version of Gotham, the Joker does not even come across as a quintessential villain. Maybe an anti-hero. You pointed out some very apt points for me. The villain has to have some details so that the villainy would hurt the audience as well as surprise them. But too much detail into the villain and he starts taking over the narrative. The way I see things, unless someone is an incarnation of the devil himself, everyone has his/her own perspective and narrative for the sequence of events that go on and the narrative is usually equipped with sufficient reason for his/her actions. Take Joker (from the movie Joker) for example. What could his life have become otherwise? He was abused by his mother's boyfriend. He was trying to make do as best as he could. He was beaten up once, twice, given a gun by a colleague because the colleague believed the gun would land Joker into trouble. Getting thrashed by a bunch of bullies in the train he killed them. The narrative does not necessarily make him a villain.

    This is what I am struggling with. I want a classic villain. A villain who is a villain. Period. He should not be a caricature and he should have details. But the moment I start detailing him, I tend to lose sight of the larger picture, the story starts becoming a narrative from his perspective, the hero loses moral ground and start seeming like a delinquent and the entire narrative structure collapses. Creating a villain like Joker is beyond my skill right now. I am struggling with the basic, classic villain. Where do I draw the line between the perspective of the hero and the clashing perspective of the villain?

    Let me know if you need more details here. I can supply those.

  3. #13

    Quote Originally Posted by burningsoul View Post
    Take Joker (from the movie Joker) for example. What could his life have become otherwise?
    Not everyone who is abused and poor becomes the Joker (or even a routine criminal for that matter).

    Quote Originally Posted by burningsoul View Post
    Getting thrashed by a bunch of bullies in the train he killed them. The narrative does not necessarily make him a villain.
    It's one thing to shoot in self-defense, quite another to kill someone who is wounded and running away from you. If you want to examine something somewhat similar of a real-life example of the incident on the train, read up on the 1984 subway shooting in NYC:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_N...ubway_shooting

    The public reaction to the subway shooter (Bernard Goetz) was mixed to say the least. Even though the initial trial cleared Goetz of all charges minus unlawful possession of a firearm, there was still people who thought what he did was wrong.

    Quote Originally Posted by burningsoul View Post
    This is what I am struggling with. I want a classic villain. A villain who is a villain. Period. He should not be a caricature and he should have details. But the moment I start detailing him, I tend to lose sight of the larger picture, the story starts becoming a narrative from his perspective, the hero loses moral ground and start seeming like a delinquent and the entire narrative structure collapses. Creating a villain like Joker is beyond my skill right now. I am struggling with the basic, classic villain. Where do I draw the line between the perspective of the hero and the clashing perspective of the villain?

    Let me know if you need more details here. I can supply those.
    What's your story's genre?

    With writing a classic villain, maybe a good starting point would be creating a character who has extremist beliefs that most people would abhor? For instance, someone who is so driven to creating a better society he wants to kill off everyone he considers to be weak/degenerate. Or maybe an environmentalist who will stop at nothing to force modern-day humanity return to the pre-industrial era? Another example is a doctor who wants to find a cure to a disease, even if it means conducting experiments on unwilling human subjects?
    burningsoul thanked this post.

  4. #14

    J. Reid Meloy pretty much covers the Joker mentality and of those who can't handle their resentment:


  5. #15

    Quote Originally Posted by flamesabers View Post

    What's your story's genre?

    With writing a classic villain, maybe a good starting point would be creating a character who has extremist beliefs that most people would abhor? For instance, someone who is so driven to creating a better society he wants to kill off everyone he considers to be weak/degenerate. Or maybe an environmentalist who will stop at nothing to force modern-day humanity return to the pre-industrial era? Another example is a doctor who wants to find a cure to a disease, even if it means conducting experiments on unwilling human subjects?
    Since I have got very positive responses here, I'd reveal a bit more. It is a family drama, but one can also think kitchen sink drama. I am not very sure yet. It's a middle class family with an extremely controlling father. The son has no space to live life, spend money that he earns, and to just be himself. The father's control is so much that even the wife and daughter sing his tunes unaware of how damaging the situation has become in the family. Culturally speaking, this is a malaise that I see too much of. Crudely speaking the argument can be made this way - every government official is corrupt down here and these individuals who are a disease for the society keep a very tight leash on how the affairs run in the family. In the course of the narrative, the son befriends someone outcast from the society and through a subplot finds his voice, to speak of how his life has turned out to be completely different from how he ever imagined it would be.

    The son's suffocation is genuine and the father is deeply disappointed that the son hasn't turned out to be how he intended him to be. The father intervened and intruded into every aspect of the son's life so as to turn him into something that would bring the father greater esteem socially. The trouble is, when rationally approached, the father's perspective does not seem wrong. It is in finer details of emotional cruelty that the father reveals himself to have had a tremendous negative influence all around him. Practical details of these things are imaginable, but the father's emotional demeanor is a bit difficult to get my head around. How hard will he be? Where will he go soft? What things he would reject without hearing? What are his own insecurities? I need to breathe life into these ideas. But I am hesitating too much. I don't understand why.
    PsychReviews thanked this post.

  6. #16

    Sounds like Narcissistic Personality Disorder, but they don't really go "soft." The trophy behaviour of the Father towards the son and the need for Intrinsic Motivation for the child are typical in many families. If you want the father to learn a lesson then it can't be complete NPD. There would have to be some empathy. Some abusers mean well. You might want to look at Big Brother in 1984 and tone it down to someone who's not completely pathological.

  7. #17

    Think of all the values and morals the best hero would have. Then invert them.

  8. #18
    ENTJ - The Executives

    Everyone is the hero of their own mental narrative, even mass murderers.

    Think of the slimeball shit the character has done. Now, what sort of justifications/rationalizations/excuses would that someone like that have to use, in order to believe themselves to be a good person?

  9. #19
    INFP

    Have you given much thought to this father character's backstory? What circumstances in his past brought out this need to engineer a "trophy son"? Did he grow up poor? Was he ridiculed? Perhaps he's trying to live vicariously through his son's achievements which he himself never accomplished. Was his own father tyrannical? You don't need to come up with some complicated backstory, but a general idea will give you a guide on what his values are and what situations he will react strongly towards.

    If you have already written down some of this story, then perhaps you can look back and pay special attention to this character. If you notice that he has a particularly strong reaction or does something unusual, then consider what might be the cause and how that might relate to his background.


     
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