– & something on how to conjure one
Without antagonists, what would stories be? For one, much less interesting to read. A good (or great) antagonist tends to stick in your mind a long time after the book is finished, because the antagonist(s) moves the story forward, keeps the reader on his or her toes and puts the protagonist(s) through sheer, utter Hell.
If that’s not a recipe for a good time, I don’t know what is.
But there’s a bit more to a villain than simply being the Bad Guy, especially if you’re conjuring him from scratch.
The thing is, it’s all too easy to write a villain. Simply write him bad….with few to no redeeming features and less motivation, and there you have it – fodder for countless Marvel superhero comics.
Except to this discerning reader, villains of that ilk are dead boring to read about, never mind to write.
Back when Lilith Queen of the Succubi popped up out of the ether and gate-crashed my story (It’s not as if I actually invited her along for the ride), I pulled out every single rabbit in the hat to make her as thoroughly evil as possible. But at the same time, I worried that maybe I, too, had fallen in the Marvel trap and made her too one-dimensional, too cartoonish to be entirely convincing. In fact, I felt so bad about it as time went on that I vowed to make Lilith the subject of a prequel (how did she get that way?) just to explicate her. But as I came to discover, Lilith as a character had a definite impact on the readers I had at the time. In other words, maybe I somehow managed to add a few extra shades and layers so she wasn’t all… Evil with a capital E, but more complex than that.
Meanwhile, I have a sequel to Quantum Demonology to write. Another villain to conjure. Only now, we’re dealing with what is technically a monster of a particular – and nasty – kind, so nasty in fact, that there really isn’t much in the way of occult literature on these creatures to go by, and that’s surprising. Or is it?
It’s almost as if my source material has clammed up by unstated agreement.
‘We won’t go there, not mention this creature, simply pretend he doesn’t exist.’
Could it be because an incubus – supposedly the epitome of all a woman could possibly desire – cuts far too close to those harrowing masculine nightmares of insufficiency?
In which case, I’m rather obligated to explore just what an incubus is… and does!
Are you curious?
Illustration: ‘Burning’ by Boris Vallejo. With thanks to Tiger Powers.