A Fork in the Road 102-12

III. Crisis, Epiphany, and Resolution

In the beginning the crises are small, but over time they build in magnitude, pushing the character closer to a breaking point. Eventually there comes a moment when the stakes are high, and the character is uncertain. Whether through anger, fear, despair, or desire, the character is torn between the call to be a hero, and the temptation to be a villain.

Then, in a moment of clarity, the uncertainty is resolved, the character makes their choice, and formally becomes either a hero or a villain. Of course characters are always changing, gradually. A villain can be redeemed, and a hero can be corrupted, but it requires another chain of crises, building up to another moment of intense emotion, and doubt.

IV. Corruption-Types of Villain

Every character starts out as either an adventurer, an achiever, a victim, or a leader. In turn these characters can transform into a glutton, a masochist, an avenger, an egotist, or a tyrant.

An adventurer seeks out new experiences, but a glutton is never satisfied. They achieve their goal only to realize that they want more. Like a drug addict they embark on ever more ambitious experiences, struggling to achieve some level of satisfaction.

An achiever focuses on self-improvement, but for an egotist self-improvement is not enough. They have to be the best. They may be part of group of elite few, or they may be the lone superior being in the world, but whatever they believe they have to prove it. Their entire sense of identity and self-worth is founded on the belief that they are inherently superior in all the ways that matter. The Riddler, a Batman villain, is an egotist who values intelligence.

A victim is someone who suffered and struggles to escape. As a hero they may become a protector, but as a villain they may become a masochist, someone who comes to enjoy the pain, or an avenger, someone who hurts others in a vain attempt to diminish their own pain. Like the glutton, it’s never enough. The villain is driven to ever greater acts of cruelty to appease needs.

A leader helps guide others to a better way, while a tyrant forces others to conform to the villain’s order. A tyrant is usually either motivated by selfishness, or a misguided belief that they can “fix” the world, when they are actually making things worse. A leader is always willing to step down (if it is the will of the people), while a tyrant must be overthrown by the people.

Next Time…
Bringing Them Together

Use Writing Fiction to see past writing posts, or use the Writing Index to browse by topic.

4 thoughts on “A Fork in the Road 102-12

  1. You’ve just inspired a character study I’ve been mulling over the last few days. Relatable villains (another blog topic) are much more popular than force of nature villains or “black hats.” Understanding what CAUSED them, is a great story arch. Solid post. Looking forward to seeing where you go with it.

    • Thank you.
      It’s funny, these three posts: The Journey, Fork in the Road, and Bringing Them Together, were inspired by two panels I saw at a convention. One was “how to create a hero” and the other was “how to create a villain”, and I was struck by the similarities, and it made me wonder about how every character starts out at roughly the same place, and only gradually becomes a hero or villain. I started thinking about strong heroes and villains, and for me it all came back to that moment of crisis, where things are really at their worst, and the character is sorely tested.
      I look forward to reading your character study as well.
      I hope Bringing Them Together doesn’t disappoint.

  2. Pingback: The Journey: How All Characters Begin 102-09 | Write Thoughts

  3. Pingback: A Fall From Grace: When Characters Devolve Into Villains – M.L.S. Weech

Leave a Reply