Outlining: In Which I Hit A Wall

A few days ago I was rejoicing because of a new growth in my writing journey. Originally, I had resigned myself to being nothing but a seat-of-the-pants writer for the rest of my life. No planning involved.

NaNo has compelled me to plan. And as such, I'd discovered a new love of outlining.

This new love has been somewhat tainted by the fact that I have hit a wall.

I'm sure you can relate. You're coasting along, loving how your plotting is going, and then suddenly a wall looms up in the path ahead of you, bigger than anything you've ever seen.

You can't go around it. You can't go through it. The only direction to go is... over.

The problem is, you don't know how to get over it.

The wall that I've hit is something you're very familiar with, I'm sure. It's called a villain.

My plot is turning out amazing so far... except for one thing: it's boring. It needs conflict; someone that stands directly in the goal of the main hero. I'm aware of my hero's goals. I'm just not sure how my villain can prevent them. Or really, who is my villain anyway?

Part of the problem may stem from the fact that I'm trying to be original. And the fact is, there are no original ideas - only original ways of writing them.

However, I'm having trouble taking this to heart.

I have a few ideas for my villain, but they're elusive. As soon as I think I've nailed something down, I end up rejecting the idea because of one reason or another. My problem? I think I'm being too perfectionistic, sadly. It's one of my weaknesses as a writer. I want everything to be just right. I want my story to be good enough so that I don't have to edit it later.

Ha!

Moving on.

Then again, part of the problem might be that this is my second day without a shower. We're trying to fix our hot water heater, and I think it's getting to my head. My hair is a literal mess. Time to find a hat, I suppose.

Anyway, I want to hear from you: what are your villains like? Maybe it'll get my brain juices going. Or maybe, it'll just help me to see that maybe writing a villain isn't too hard after all. 

Oh, and are you hitting any walls yet? Perhaps your wall looks a little something like this?


Yeah... me too.

Comments

  1. First, the hat situation:
    Fedoras are my first choice. (I'm convinced my pink one has magical powers to make me inspired to write things.) ;)

    Second, maybe your villain could be more of an antagonistic "force" rather than an antagonist as a person. Most of the antagonistic stuff in my stories arises from having one or two as my recognizable villain, and the rest comes from situations and obstacles the hero has to get around.

    One of my favorite villains though was very driven by desperate circumstances to do bad things (kidnapping, murder). He wasn't particularly evil, but it was the situation that made him one of the antagonistic forces. Another one was semi-obsessed with power because his parents had told him the kind of kingdom he should build, and so he sort of went on that.

    Hopefully that helps :)

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  2. If it's any consolation (which it probably isn't), I had the exact same trouble with my 2010 NaNo. It wasn't until I started writing that I discovered a villain, and even then he was very finicky for the first several chapters. If J.C.'s suggestions don't stir up your creative juices, maybe that first day of actually writing will bring you some inspiration.

    (What's that you say? I'm not very encouraging? Yes, I know...)

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  3. I've written several villains and I think there are a few ways to do it. First, you could write a villain that is so utterly and undeniably evil that they appear to be lacking a soul. I prefer to write villains with just a tinge of good in them. Either they can show that good in the end with an act of heroism or the good can be swallowed by the evil. I think making them just a little good tends to make them more believable. If your going for a more melodramatic story though, the first option is probably best.

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  4. Interestingly enough, this post brought me to realize I have the same problem. Who is my villain? Thanks for pointing that out. :)

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  5. Oh, dear...villains. I'm having trouble making mine behave right now. He's a rather strong-willed man, with just enough charm to make him dangerous. But he's got a quick tongue and a quicker temper, making it hard to write him.

    Like J.C. said, it's possible your story just needs an antagonistic force, rather than a human villain.

    I hope you figure it out, and best wishes with NaNo! :)

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  6. Ooh, you're going to have fun discovering your villain, Sky. I promise. I had some serious fun figuring out my newest novel's villain.

    One piece of advice: the villain is just as human as the main character, and he doesn't know he's a bad guy. (This is pretty true most of time, though not always.)

    Figure out a legit reason for why he does the things he does, and get to know him just as well as your MC.

    2010's NaNo was difficult, though, because my antagonist was a dragon. :\ No room for character development there o_O

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  7. HI!!! I haven't commented in forever!!

    Anyway, that can be really annoying. Sometimes I'm just like, "do I even need a villain at all?!?" but then the book would be like Peter Rabbit. Wait, even Peter Rabbit has a villain. Goodness.

    Anyway, my villain is an empress that not everyone sees a villain, I have no idea where I'm going with her but all I know if that she's super scary and cruel. I mean, aren't all villains like that? I keep thinking of how she should be but I almost don't want to think of it and see how it turns out...

    I'm super excited for NaNo!

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