Tuesday, December 17, 2013



The best way to humanize a villain is simply to get away from thinking of him as “the villain.” Try not to categorize him. Try not to limit who he is because he is standing against your protagonist.
Your villain is just a character. Just a person. And when you approach him as you would any other person, you will realize that:

  • HIS MOTIVES DON’T HAVE TO BE PURE EVIL. This is perhaps the most important point in today’s post. A villain’s motivation doesn’t have be malevolent. He can be trying to right an injustice, or draw attention a societal ill, or help his family or race survive: just going about it in a way that’s not the best.
  • HE CAN BE MORE CONFUSED OR MISINFORMED/ MISGUIDED THAN EVIL. This is always an option, if you want to take it, even to just a point (rather than fully).
    Don’t we all have something we wish we’d done differently? Something we wish we had or hadn’t done at all? Why should your villain break this mold? Unless your villain is a narcissist by nature, why should he think he’s perfect?
  • HE WILL HAVE TO FACE A FEAR. And I don’t mean “he’s afraid of dying but you know he’s gonna be a goner by the end.” We all grow and develop as people by leaving our comfort zones and facing situations that unnerve us.
  • HE CAN SHOW SOME KIND OF MERCY. That mercy doesn’t have to be directed at his enemies. He can be patient with the people in his life he cares about. He can overlook the little flaws of those important to him or give someone a second chance. Your villain should be a human being who is developed as a character: that means some positive attributes as well as negative ones.
  • HE CAN QUESTION HIMSELF AT SOME POINT. Most stereotypical villains never do this, but a truly human villain just might. This doesn’t mean he’ll abandon his aims and his plan. It doesn’t mean he’ll change anything about his strategy (though he could). It just means that, like we all do, he’ll take a moment to reassess himself and what he’s doing. He’ll doubt himself.
Villains can be complex and tricky to write, but they are also TONS of fun. One thing I do, I’ve found, to humanize my villains is to insert a piece of me in each one of them. Some neutral or positive aspect of my own personality becomes part of my villains. I don’t generally do that on purpose; it just happens.


  • #1 QUEST: the plot involves the Protagonist's search for a person, place or thing, tangible or intangible (but must be quantifiable, so think of this as a noun; i.e., immortality).
  • #2 ADVENTURE: this plot involves the Protagonist going in search of their fortune, and since fortune is never found at home, the Protagonist goes to search for it somewhere over the rainbow.
  • #3 PURSUIT: this plot literally involves hide-and-seek, one person chasing another.
  • #4 RESCUE: this plot involves the Protagonist searching for someone or something, usually consisting of three main characters - the Protagonist, the Victim & the Antagonist.
  • #5 ESCAPE: plot involves a Protagonist confined against their will who wants to escape (does not include some one trying to escape their personal demons).
  • #6 REVENGE: retaliation by Protagonist or Antagonist against the other for real or imagined injury.
  • #7 THE RIDDLE: plot involves the Protagonist's search for clues to find the hidden meaning of something in question that is deliberately enigmatic or ambiguous.
  • #8 RIVALRY: plot involves Protagonist competing for same object or goal as another person (their rival).
  • #9 UNDERDOG: plot involves a Protagonist competing for an object or goal that is at a great disadvantage and is faced with overwhelming odds.
  • #10 TEMPTATION: plot involves a Protagonist that for one reason or another is induced or persuaded to do something that is unwise, wrong or immoral.
  • #11 METAMORPHOSIS: this plot involves the physical characteristics of the Protagonist actually changing from one form to another (reflecting their inner psychological identity).
  • #12 TRANSFORMATION: plot involves the process of change in the Protagonist as they journey through a stage of life that moves them from one significant character state to another.
  • #13 MATURATION: plot involves the Protagonist facing a problem that is part of growing up, and from dealing with it, emerging into a state of adulthood (going from innocence to experience).
  • #14 LOVE: plot involves the Protagonist overcoming the obstacles to love that keeps them from consummating (engaging in) true love.
  • #15 FORBIDDEN LOVE: plot involves Protagonist(s) overcoming obstacles created by social mores and taboos to consummate their relationship (and sometimes finding it at too high a price to live with).
  • #16 SACRIFICE: plot involves the Protagonist taking action(s) that is motivated by a higher purpose (concept) such as love, honor, charity or for the sake of humanity.
  • #17 DISCOVERY: plot that is the most character-centered of all, involves the Protagonist having to overcome an upheavel(s) in their life, and thereby discovering something important (and buried) within them a better understanding of life (i.e., better appreciation of their life, a clearer purpose in their life, etc.)
  • #18 WRETCHED EXCESS: plot involves a Protagonist who, either by choice or by accident, pushes the limits of acceptable behavior to the extreme and is forced to deal with the consequences (generally deals with the psychological decline of the character).
  • #19 ASCENSION: rags-to-riches plot deals with the rise (success) of Protagonist due to a dominating character trait that helps them to succeed.
  • #20 DECISION: riches-to-rags plot deals with the fall (destruction) of Protagonist due to dominating character trait that eventually destroys their success.

Sunday, December 1, 2013



Jeff Chandler looked as though he had been dreamed up by one of those artists who specialiZe in male physique studies or, a mite further up the artistic scale, he might have been plucked bodily from some modern mural on a biblical subject. For that he had the requisite Jewishness (of which he was very proud) – and he was not quite real. Above all, he was impossibly handsome. He would never have been lost in a crowd, with that big, square, sculpted 20th-century face and his prematurely grey wavy hair. If the movies had not found him the advertising agencies would have done – and in fact, whenever you saw a still of him you looked at his wrist-watch or pipe before realising that he wasn't promoting something. In the coloured stills and on posters his studio always showed his hair as blue, heightening the unreality. His real name was Ira Grossel and his film-name was exactly right. Shortly after completing his role in Merrill's Marauders  in 1961, Chandler injured his back while playing baseball with U.S. Army Special Forces soldiers who served as extras in the movie. He entered  Culver City hospital and had surgery for a spinal disc herniation on May 13, 1961. There were severe complications; an artery  was damaged and Chandler hemorrhaged. In a seven-and-a-half-hour emergency operation over-and-above the original surgery, he was given 55 pints of blood. Another operation followed, date unknown, where he received an additional 20 pints of blood. He died on June 17, 1961. His death was deemed malpractice.\ and resulted in a large lawsuit and settlement for his children.