What is a Wordsmith, Anyway?

Rii the Wordsmith. I always thought it had a nice ring to it. But what is a wordsmith, anyway?

A smith, dictionary defined, is one who works with metals. A blacksmith would be the guy who makes stuff out of iron and steel and whatnot. And then there’s the goldsmith, who works in gold, usually artful sorts of things. There’s not really such a thing as a leathersmith, or a silksmith, or a plasticsmith. I suppose, if you play Kingdom of Loathing, there’s meatsmithing, but otherwise that’s nonsense. Smithing seems limited to metal.

So why wordsmith?

Words aren’t so different from ore and metal bars. Language can be raw, or it can be refined. One could argue that language is more useful when it’s refined, since it can better express what is desired. Certainly, language is far prettier when refined. And words are weapons, or tools, or protection, or glamor. Words cut as well as any sword. Words can defend against such attacks as plate mail defends against the sword. Words build up others, build up nations, inspire others to action, and destroy.

Language is malleable. The meanings of words are, too, as words are bent into puns and double entendres.

And language is a craft.

Picking just the right word to complete a sentence is like picking just the right jewel to affix into the gold piece, the necklace or crown or earring. Such skill takes knowledge and an eye for beauty…or maybe an ear, in the case of words.

Why wordsmith? Because when I write, I pound out words into sentences. When I polish up, I grind off unneeded words that fly away like little metal shavings. When I put in the finishing touches, I take care with my word choice.  And when I’m done, I’m exhausted.

My first draft, and even my second draft, may not be perfect in prose. But then, if a smith were to provide his own ore, the first step would be to procure said ore, unrefined and ugly. That’s the first draft. The second step would be to refine the ore – but a gold bar is not a beautiful work of art; it’s still, in effect, a raw resource. That’s the second draft. Subsequent drafts, those are the art: pulling the gold into wire, shaping the wire, melding the wire into something of beauty, setting in gems…wordsmithing is an editing skill, primarily.

So what is a Wordsmith? Perhaps not one from whom words flow perfectly on the first try…but by the finished copy, there are no words out of place.

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“Oh, Hero…I Already Have.”

You know what that line follows. “I already have” is a cliche answer, and sickeningly so. But I’m not one to say you can never say a cliche line or use a cliche concept because to say so would be wrong. If I did expressly forbid use of “I already have”, I myself already can think of an exception – maybe your villain is slightly genre savvy and has been dying to use that phrase.

But I have problems with this phrase because villains are getting antsier and antsier about using it. I mean I get that pride tends to be a big issue with villains but counting one’s chickens before they’ve hatched is foolishness and villains should not be foolish. So while a villain may count on his plan working out and everything is in motion and the whole thing will be working like clockwork…no. No it isn’t. And your villain should know, accurately, when the Point of No Return is and not act like he’s past it when he isn’t because if he does, he’ll over-look that tiny bit of tar hanging out on one of the gears of his clockwork that will gum up the works and ruin everything.

What I’m getting at here is that your villain shouldn’t say “I already have” when he hasn’t. I’d like to use a recent and popular example:

You know what would be good right now? For you to sing a villainous reprise of “Love Is An Open Door” instead of saying anything you’re about to say.

You know when Hans has actually gotten away with his plan? WHEN ANNA AND ELSA WERE BOTH DEAD AND HE WAS CROWNED. That is when he’d gotten away with it. While Anna is still alive, he hasn’t gotten away with it. Just because he thinks she’s going to perish doesn’t mean that there isn’t some miraculous way she won’t – and the way she doesn’t perish in that room isn’t even all that miraculous (point that a living snowman is a miracle aside ‘cuz Disney movie). Her friend came and helped to save her, woo surprise.

But even if it was a safe bet that Hans had put Anna on ice (haha I’m so funny guys) there were still several steps left in Hans’ plan. I think if he was going to tell anyone “I already have” is if Elsa had somehow been in an incapacitated position and all that was left was for Hans to kill her and return – he could be saying it then as he stabbed Elsa. That would be appropriate.

You know who actually already did when they said so? Doris from Meet the Robinsons.

OH $#!^ IT’S ALREADY THE FUTURE!

You know whose line was far more terrifying and potent? The hat’s. My feelings as Hans said the line was something along the lines of, “Really? That’s what he’s going with? Ugh [eyeroll].” That was in addition to what I’ve already said, of “No you haven’t either gotten away with it yet” thoughts. My feelings about Doris’ use of the phrase? It’s the caption to that picture. Time continuum whatevers aside, that was a pretty terrifyingly excellent use.

So I will not tell you that your hero may never say, “You’ll never get away with this!” because cliche as it is, when the villain is leaving and you’re angry, you really want to just shout something at him but he’s winning so you can’t think of anything else but, “You’ll never get away with this!” And I won’t tell you that your villain can’t respond, “Oh, Hero…I already have.” But please, please, if your villain says that, make sure that he actually already has gotten away with it.

Hey, aside update: I’m still working on the Villain Sue test, I haven’t forgotten, promise. It’s still just having to take second place to my life.

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Flash Fiction

Hey all, just a tiny update to let you know that I’ve changed my mind about putting my writing on the blog. I have started writing bits of flash fiction for ideas that I’ve had that aren’t big enough for whole stories but they’re too small to do much with them so I thought rather than type them and let them molder on my computer, why not share them here? I may also do drabbles, but drabbles are hard for me (it’s a snippet of exactly 100 words; you may try them too, they’re an interesting writing exercise).

So if you ever wondered, “Sure this girl has some interesting thoughts on villains but can she write?” now’s your chance to find out.

Flash fiction will not be posted as blog updates because maybe you don’t care and just want to see my villain/writing advice and random thoughts. Also it’s long for a post. Instead, it’ll all be neatly kept on its own pages accessible from the “Flash Fiction” option on the menu bar. Each story will have its own page.

Thank you all for helping me to feel confident enough to post something here. (But Rii, none of us ever said anything about posting your writing here!) Yes, but you did say something about my blog posts by reading them or actually saying “this was interesting” which helped. Enjoy!

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A Bit of Murder Psychology

I’ve already made a few posts about killing, including about how a villain may not kill. However, because I do encounter plenty of writers who are, unlike myself, good-aligned who don’t understand the nature of evil, I want to write one more in hopes of absolute clarity on whether or not your villain could and should kill someone. Your villain may well be able to cause the death of a man or a people, but actually personally killing someone is different than causing a death. Let me explain with a common exercise:

You are in a subway station in a control room. There’s a situation where ten people have become trapped down along the tracks and a subway is coming fast. The subway is out of control and cannot be stopped in time to save the people, nor can anything be done to free the people in time. However, there’s an individual of immense girth standing on a bridge going over the tracks and you have access to a button that would drop the guy onto the tracks. His size is big enough that the impact would stop the subway in time to save the people. Do you push the button, sacrifice one flabby guy for ten people?

Okay, same situation, except he’s standing next to the tracks as are you. You could still stop the train with the portly fellow but you would have to personally shove him onto the tracks. Do you do it?

Picture it. You’re right there. Just one push.

Statistically, a lot more people would be okay with pushing a button to kill a man than to physically put him in mortal danger with their own two hands. This lines up fairly well with the saying, “The death of an individual is a tragedy; the death of a country is a statistic.” What I mean by all this is that your villain may not have a problem ordering his thugs to gun down people, he may not have a problem with pushing the ‘Missile Launch’ button to destroy a town, and he may not have a problem with lighting a building on fire, entombing the people inside. But he may falter when it’s him and the hero, or any other person, gun or knife or what have you in his hand, up to the villain himself to actually, personally kill his opponent. Maybe he doesn’t, maybe he loves to watch the life flicker out of another. But you shouldn’t assume that to be the case.

There are many easy assumptions about killing that we make – we assume that when soldiers go to war, they shoot at each other. How else is fighting done? But there were actually many, many studies conducted by the military to show that a percentage of soldiers don’t want to kill and will tend to fire over the enemy’s head, or not at all. While some studies have been contested, there still appears to be grains of truth in these claims. Either way, perhaps this is in part why the overlord tends to have armies of orcs rather than humans. How much easier is it to kill when the other guy is literally an evil monster? Or, as we think on the villain’s perspective, how much better is an army of literal evil monsters who will have no qualms with killing the enemy?

There are other factors to consider for mooks and whonot in causing death, like the Milgram experiment. But this is not useful for your main villain because he is the authority figure, there isn’t one above him. And as mentioned already, pushing a button or telling someone else to do it isn’t the same as doing it yourself so just because your villain will tell his minion, “continue”, doesn’t mean that your villain will shoot the hero.

Of course, with your villain, an easy solution to this consideration of murder is a little hand waving with anti-social personality disorder or other problem with empathy. If your villain lacks empathy, he lacks an important element that might cause him to hesitate. “The ant has no quarrel with the boot”, Loki says, showing that if he has empathy, he doesn’t see humans as on his level. Not even close.

But I said “hand waving” because the tendency to just go with, “Well my villain’s evil and that’s not a problem” is the easy way to go; it’s a tendency towards laziness. It’s absolutely fine to write a broken man who has no issues with murder. Such a man, due to this quality, would probably be a villain. It makes sense. But when you write a villain like that, the lack of empathy, for whatever reason, is a part of that villain, not an afterthought, not a retcon-esque explanation for his actions. And it’s definitely not an assumption. The issue with your villain will not come out clearly in all that he does, and because we humans are social creatures whether we like it or not, a lack of empathy will come out in all that we do. As much as I hate to draw the parallel, consider Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.

I hate to draw the parallel because I hate to draw upon a source that thinks Asperger’s is JUST SO FUNNY lol

Sheldon’s entire character’s worth for the show revolves around his social shortcomings. Just because Sheldon is with several other “smart guys” doesn’t mean he works well with them, that they aren’t frustrated with him, that everything goes smoothly. If he did, the show would not be, to those who enjoy it, as interesting.

What does this mean for your overlord? Just because he’s evil doesn’t mean he gets along well with the other evil guys. Sheldon thinks he’s intellectually superior to his friends. So could your overlord, as he brushes off his generals. You think those generals appreciate that? The overlord or supervillain’s minions are always bowing and scabbling about, but why? I’d be pissed if I was treated like that, wouldn’t you? Internal conflict is what keeps many shows afloat, makes many books interesting. And if the heroic group can hold things together despite differences and issues, so can your evil team…but they probably ought to have internal conflict like your average sub par sitcom (although hopefully written better) if you have the leader or main villain or whatever as a guy who lacks empathy as “lacks empathy” is a terrible quality for a leader.

In any case, if your villain couldn’t kill a guy his own personal self, that doesn’t necessarily have to come up as an actual situation. But it will come across in how you write him, in what he does, how he interacts with other people. Know your villain as well as you know your hero. Take him out for lunch and find out all you can about him.

Killing is easy to write, but not to actually perform, so don’t assume that your villain will, and don’t assume his mooks will either.

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Humor and Avatar Addendum

Hey, all – just on thinking more about humor and villains, my husband pointed out that a villain who uses humor well can actually be scarier. His example

HAVE SOME CANDY :D This phrase will not at all become a vicious death-chant later in the movie.

was King Candy from Wreck-it-Ralph. Certainly, his jovial nature put me off his trail. Also I don’t usually try super hard to figure out plot twists beforehand and choose to just enjoy the book/movie/whatever. But in any case, the only thing more terrifying than a man saying menacing words is a man saying kind or silly words menacingly. Provided you pull it off right, of course. Otherwise it might just be downright silly.

Of course when my husband first mentioned this point, my first thought

was the Joker. Certainly, if anyone has a terrifying sense of humor, it’s him. Then again, part of his deal is that his sense of humor isn’t just dark, it’s totally off and what he finds funny, like say killing someone and then shaping their face into a grotesque smile for rigor mortis to seal, we probably don’t. But you can’t say he doesn’t have a sense of humor, even if it’s totally twisted.

Either way humor is still a special technique seasoning, it seems, and you’ll probably need practice to get it right. Humor can be hard to write anyway.

As for Avatar…I do want to make a few things clear.

I do not consider Iroh a villain because, well, he’s not. I don’t think anyone will argue with me on that point. Heck, he’s barely even an antagonist for season one and definitely not afterward.

I do consider Zuko a villain. Still. We just finished season two and…aaargh, Zuko, nooooo! I will continue to consider him a villain until he finds his honor the way Iroh found his.

Willingness to steal and mug, puts his own goals above anything or anyone else (not always but more than never), chooses the side of his clearly sociopathically evil sister instead of the friggun Avatar despite the Avatar’s offer of friendship and the kindness offered by Katara (twice, since she offered to heal Iroh AND his scar) versus the life-long teasing and antagonizing of Azula, which ultimately betrayed Iroh…Look, I know there are redeeming qualities but the kid ain’t using them to redeem himself out of the “villain” box.

I do not consider Zuko anywhere near as heinous and excellent a villain as friggun Azula, but that is not to say I don’t enjoy Zuko’s character. And by “excellent a villain” I just mean Azula is scoring villain points left and right whereas Zuko has proved himself a competent fighter but doesn’t have the material to be an overlord like Azula.

D: So here’s to hoping that Zuko changes his mind in the last season. No spoilers please.

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Seasonings of Villains (little details matter)

You’re all familiar with seasoning analogies, right? Just a little here and there really makes a dish, but too much is over powering?

That’s great, but what are the seasonings? What are those little details that you sprinkle in? Let’s talk about those.

If we’re saying seasonings, I’m going to make this whole discussion an analogy of soup. So say that a villain is a bowl of soup – the broth is his presence in the story, his actions, his relevance, motivations. The meat is his personality, his appearance, his powers, and the other ingredients like vegetables are his base, his minions, his backstory. These ingredients are all necessary for a hearty soup. Quirks and idiosyncrasies, humor and humanity, random facts and specifics of taste are therefore the seasonings.

Quirks and idiosyncrasies are themselves odd, as either could be a tiny bit of pepper in your story, the habit of twirling a moustache or biting a nail, rolling a marble or flipping a coin between the fingers, a peculiar way of dotting an i. However, they could also turn up as larger items, whole bay leaves of entire odd speech patterns or bobbing cloves of peculiar fashion, items that stand out and begin to affect the story or even the plot more than a seasoning should and yet…not out of place, as a bay leaf or clove should not be eaten whole and must be picked out or avoided in eating soup, affecting your experience more than a bit of pepper, but are still not over-seasoning.

Well, I don’t like to eat bay leaves anyway, and I will pause my soup-eating to pick them out. And cloves. Definitely will not eat cloves. Still, you can’t make wassail or baklava without the poky little things.

Humor can be a dangerous spice to use with your villains because ofttimes, the goal is to incite fear and loathing with your villain. Humor does not usually help in this regard. Breaking slightly away from our soup-spice analogy, consider making the spiciest taco you can, your goal to destroy the mouths of anyone who eats this taco. Humor is like sour cream. On the one hand, it will add a good measure of flavor and temper the spice. On the other hand, if you temper the spice, if you give your diner a sanctuary in the spice-induced death of your taco, your taco is no longer a devilish, sadistic culinary creation. To some people. Who like spice. I’d still hate you for making it and not warning me that it was spicy.

If your villain isn’t supposed to be Satan incarnate, humor can be a good way of showing the humanity in your villain, of showing that maybe he’s the antagonist but maybe not evil, or maybe misguided. In the case of a war, it’s all too easy to think of “them” and “us” and “they” are all evil. The best way to combat this view in anyone, including your readers, is reminding the readers that “the enemy” is only human, just like “us”.

My husband and I, despite both being 90s kids, failed to watch Avatar: The Last Airbender as kids and we’re now doing so. The Fire Nation failed to ever strike me as “that completely evil empire nation” because of Uncle Iroh and his mixture of humor and kindness.

DeviantArt user Undead-Zamiel created this wallpaper.

Uncle Iroh is probably one of my all-time favorite characters and I would never, ever classify him, or Zuko, as villains. Azula absolutely yes and she’s a pretty excellent villain too.

No it’s fine I’m just going to get whatever I want, whether through ruthless manipulation or from SHOOTING LIGHTNING AT YOU.

There’s a lot less funny with Azula than with Iroh and Zuko. That’s because when you eat your tacos, the intention is to think, “Aw, Zuko isn’t so bad, he’s just trying to restore his hon-HOLY FRICK WHAT IS WRONG WITH IS HIS SISTER?” You bite into the mild, cream-tempered Zuko taco and you feel for him, even as you hope he will lose. Then you bite into the burning death Azula taco and you know that this show does, in fact, know how to villain.

All the same, that doesn’t mean that humor isn’t appropriate with more deadly villains. Comic relief can be a useful tool, and studying masters of comic relief, most well-known of which is Shakespeare, shows us how comic relief is important in monitoring tension. However, let me caution you not to use humor in a way that makes your villains seem incompetent or otherwise deteriorate their credibility. It’s one thing to have your villain or henchmen or whomever tell a joke, or play a prank, or have an amusing hobby or tea obsession. It’s another altogether to have dopey antics that only a foolish Disney character would perform. Schadenfreude humor? That could go either way. If the source of schadenfreude should have been avoidable or was stupidly self-inflicted, it’s probably not a good idea for credibility. If it’s more of a karma kind of thing, well, that could be funny and appropriate.

Humanity is of course something I’ve addressed before.

Random facts: I’m really good at whistling. I’m exactly five feet tall so my friends in high school have used me as a unit of measurement…and other friends have referred to a nickname of mine as a unit of weight too, since I am usually about a hundred pounds even too. I used to play violin. I own around a thousand dragon objects, no exaggeration.

Random facts can be fun, but they don’t add much, and you run into the sword on the mantle problem introducing them (if you spend a paragraph describing the sword on the mantel, you had better darn well have it be plot significant). If you are wanting to include a random fact but not have the random fact be more than flavor, it’s best if either you introduce it in the background (His clothing is blue, his bedsheets are blue, his curtains are blue, the carpet is too, the plates, anything he owns…hm, wonder what his favorite color is? But this only comes up in tiny bits in describing a setting now and then.) or if you introduce it in a mere sentence. Possibly two, although that’s pushing it.

Random facts also add an element of humanity to your villain, although with less risk, generally speaking, of cooling the spice like humor. But these are the subtle spices and they do require a gentle hand to flavor anything properly. A food allergy, for example, does not really change the perspective of my overlord one way or the other. Technically, the fact he’s deathly allergic to shellfish could come in handy, but as it happens, he’s not fed crab as his ultimate defeat. It’s just a fun fact that, hopefully, reminds you that he is human, even if he’s a despicable one as he struts around a dinner party with a disdainful sneer on his face because the hosts had the gall to serve lobster as the main dish, never mind the fact the dinner party is in honor of someone who loves it.

The fact that Aang is vegetarian is not a plot point. It’s a random fact that comes up a few times when someone tries or offers to feed him meat. There’s not a big deal made of it, it’s just a thing that happens casually the way it would in real life.

Specifics of taste are just a specific brand of random facts – my villain likes the color blue. He likes it a lot more than any other color. She prefers silk, as any other fabric is too rough. Just consider how it’s a little different to say, “He grabbed the book, opened it, and began to read” and, “He grabbed the book, and pressed his thumb against the pages beneath his nose, breathing in deeply as the book made a soft “prrrbt” noise. “Ah,” he said, “I just love the smell of old books.” And with that, he opened the book and began to read.” Fun fact, little dash of seasoning there, adds a little personality. You can be insanely evil and still like the way a book smells.

Make your characters more like a real person with little seasonings, but remember that the point of the book is to tell a story just as much to meet interesting people. Readers have different motivations in reading a book, some want to see interesting places, some want to meet cool people, but I’m betting it’s safe to say all want to hear a fascinating story. If your little details stunt the flow of the story, it’s too much. But if you don’t include any, it’s bland. You know this for your heroes…don’t forget your villains.

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Everyone Wants to be an Author

Hello minions. I wanted to share a post that resonated with my own views. I’ve run into many people that have replied to my comment that I’m a writer with either a profession that they, too, are a writer (very often followed by an uncomfortable story mash-up topped with Mary Sue) or else an aloof “Yeah, I’d like to write, but I don’t have time.”

Here’s the thing – if you want to write because you want to write, because you have characters you love or for the love of storytelling, I don’t care how bad you are or how many rookie mistakes you make. You write. Just keep doing it and you’ll get better. And reading will help you to write better – but you have to read to learn to write, not just enjoy the story. Or whatever, as reading articles and other non-fiction can help too, so in that case it’s not the story but the information, whatever the purpose of the writing piece. You have to read to pick up the technique and lexicon. But if you want to write because you want attention or you want to be cool like the storytellers you love or for money…I sincerely do not believe you’re in it for the right reasons. It’s fine just to be a reader…without you, storytellers wouldn’t much matter. If you want attention, this isn’t going to be a very good way now…and if you want money, I wish I was there to burst out laughing at you.

But if you’re a writer because you have a story that lives in you and every breath you take is a breath for each character, too, you keep working, keep writing. Learn all you can. Practice. You’ll gain the skills to share that world and those people with others.

Oh, and if you “Don’t have time”, newsflash – no one does. Or at least, precious few do. Grr, that reply pisses me off.

Everyone Wants to be an Author.

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Superheroes Cause Supervillains

The city of New York is experiencing an average day. Average because it’s normal people doing normal things, as has been the case ever since New York’s conception. Somewhere within, a nerdy boy is on a science field trip in some labs when a curious spider bites him. He gains “fantastic” powers – I personally would probably kill myself if I started to become spider-like – and days later, he has equally fantastic – or should we say sinister – enemies to fight. It’s after Parker’s mishap with a spider that mishaps create a goblin of a particular color, or a fellow with four extra limbs and a vengeance, or a man made of sand.

Good thing the guy who uses his powers for good happened first, right? I mean, can you imagine how screwed first New York and then The World would be otherwise?

Hey remember in The Incredibles how there were totally supervillains at the beginning of the movie

and then the improbable lawsuits happened and all of superheroes were rejected by the common folk to the point that the heroes were all forced into hiding and the supervillains, no longer opposed by powers equal to their own, laid utter waste to the city?

Yeah I don’t remember that part either. No one really says what happened to them; they all sort of just disappear. Sure, there’s a brewing supervillain and that’s the whole plot and everything, but not only is it not quite the same thing, but it doesn’t really prove me wrong.

Just remember that Syndrome WAS this kid.

It’s all Mr. Incredible’s fault that Syndrome was ever a thing, undeniably so. You want to argue with me about how you can’t blame Mr. Incredible? Batman and Robin the boy wonder your argument is invalid.

What about at the end of the movie? Superheroes are back in style and the very next day someone comes popping up.

Literally.

Where were these craptastic villains before? Why always are Krypton prisoners landing on Earth after the escape pod has landed and the child inside grown and prepared to be a ridiculously OP superhero? What about Ultron – built by Stark or Pym depending on the version you prefer?

Back when Megamind was first released, I was excited to see it because it was a story from the villain’s perspective. I was excited to see a superhero story about the rise of the villain, his struggle, his goals without the taint of morals making him look like a crackpot. That’s not what Megamind would up being about in the slightest and my first time watching it, I was really disappointed, although now that I know what the movie is about, it’s one of my favorites. And Megamind highlights my point because it addresses the true reason for the existence of supervillains.

Megamind is not an evil person. You see that as a youth, despite his interesting upbringing, he still wants to do good. His goals were to fit in. And the hero of the story – the hero, people, the hero! – is the one leading those mindless drones in their refusal to accept Megamind. Ultimately, Megamind chooses to be the hero once Buttface McPreppyPants gets out of the way and lets him do anything good. Megamind is a good guy and was clearly playing evil because that was the way to accomplish his one goal: to fit in. He fit in as a villain. He didn’t want to take over the world, he just wanted to fit in and fitting in meant playing evil and playing evil meant trying to take over Metrocity. If you didn’t just pronounce that meh-trah-city, you’re dead to me, by the way.

Once he got Metrocity, Megamind left his blue mark, did some hilarious things, stole the Ark of the Covenant, and had an existential crisis because he was no longer playing evil. He was being evil, because at this point, evil wasn’t a tool for fitting in because he didn’t fit anymore. Megamind thought that he needed opposition because it was the yin to his yang. That wasn’t it. He needed opposition because that was how he fit – he was a villain made to fight the hero, never actually evil. Once his evil became a career rather than a coping mechanism, he didn’t want to do it anymore. Or, more specifically, he wanted to go back to when he was just playing evil, never actually able to harm anyone because of the opposition.

What’s the point of being bad when there’s no good to stop you? What’s the point of being bad when there’s no good to stop you!? DO YOU EVEN VILLAIN, BRO?

And that’s the thing, folks. Super villains are not independent from superheroes. When you have someone who is invincible equipped with lasers, X-rays, speed, and good looks (y’know, if he’s your type), you can’t have a story of him running around with a pair of extremely diversionary glasses getting news stories. Boring. Boriiing. And you can’t tell a story about him flying around breathing on bad guys to stop them. It would not serve to entertain the masses to see some villain like myself running around doing evil only to shriek and surrender, sobbing, when some man with spider qualities approaches, web-slinging device at the ready. (“Please put the spider web down. I’ll go quietly. Don’t touch me. I swear to Satan’s second cousin I’ll go quietly if you don’t touch me. Actually why don’t you just bring the police here, I’ll collapse into a nervous wreak at the thought that you almost slung a giant spider web at me and sob hysterically while you’re gone.“) No, no, you can’t put ordinary people with major arachnophobia against your superhero! That’s boring! You have to make someone suitable. And if your superheroes all team up, you’re going to have to make a villain more stupid ridiculously OP than My Only Weakness Is An Alien Rock Earth Has No Reason To Possess. Like maybe Death’s Boyfriend with Bling.

Bling-a bling bling

Hey, in that post I linked to about how your villains need to be separate from your heroes, I said that your villains can’t be pins you set up just for your hero to knock down. But guess what? That’s exactly what supervillains are. In a lot of superhero stories, no supervillains existed before the superhero showed up. Their creation, their birth, is just to fill a necessary role. The best supervillains are those who are not so stilted because of this birth defect.

The backstory, the goals, the actual character himself, all fleshed out beautifully. He is a villain I truly enjoy.

The worst…well, I learned in my research for this post that Lex Luthor isn’t bald just ’cause he is, and his sole reason for villainy is because he’s bald.

Forty

It won’t bring your hair back, Lex.

Either way, supervillains exist so that superheroes have someone to fight and therefore, you see, superheroes cause supervillains.

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