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Manor Lakes Specialist College: 4. Heroes and Villains

Thursday, August 19, 2010 , Posted by Sandy Fussell at 11:39 PM

A good story needs a protagonist (hero) and an antagonist (villain) although sometimes it can be hard to work out which one is the good guy and which is the bad guy. Conflict comes from characters and the struggle between good and evil is a plot classic. In a series like Samurai Kids where the heroes stay the same, in each new book, the plot is driven by a combination of changing setting and new villains.

So what makes a good hero? Does he/she/it have to be good looking? Or do they even have to be completely good? Most writers would agree that a hero needs likeable characteristics and to be proactive and take action rather than wait for things to happen. The hero is a positive influence and the reader wants to align with him (or her!) and take her (or his!) side.

Villains need to be a believable adversary, they have to have as much at stake as the hero. They most often represent negatives such as greed, jealousy and all sorts of criminal activity.

The greatest heroes always have a flaw and the greatest villains have redeeming features. I think that might be because as readers we want to empathise with both.

When I was writing Jaguar Warrior I wanted readers to get to know the villain really well so I wrote a number of alternating chapters told from the perspective of the Captain of the Temple Guard, Huemac. He is bloodthirsty, cold killer tracking the hero, a fourteen-year-old slave boy called Atl. However, Huemac also has some redeeming features (sorry, can’t give the story away *grin*). As I gradually allowed the reader into his life I wanted them to change how they felt about Huemac – to move from intense dislike to understanding why he behaved the way he did. I am not sure if I succeeded so if anyone reads the book, let me know.

I wonder if there are nay books written totally from the viewpoint of the villain. I might try that!

Some heroes and villains are inseparable – Sherlock Holmes and Moriarity, Harry Potter and Voldemort, Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker, Gandalf and Sauron, Peter Pan and Captain Hook. Can you think of any more pairings? Strangely enough, I found it was easy to think of villains - Dracula, Frankenstein and the White Witch quickly sprang to mind - whereas I had to struggle to think of heroes!

Was there are a hero and villain in the last books you read? What were they like – were they all good or all bad? Which one did you like best?

History is a wonderfully rich source of heroes and villains. I am thinking of writing about Attila the Hun although I can’t quite decide if he whether he is a hero or a villain. The BBC did a great series on Heroes and Villains and each is loaded on You Tube in 6 parts. Check them out by searching for “Heroes and Villains” “BBC series” and to get you started here is Attila the Hun 1/6 [Warning: A bit gory!]

Currently have 18 comments:

  1. Anonymous says:

    Review on Breaking Dawn

    Breaking Dawn is my second favorite book that i’ve ever read. My favorite is Eclipse anyway getting back to the point. In the book it has so many different genres it has supernatural, romance, spine-chilling horror and fantasy. My favorite part in the book was when Jacob told Charlie that he was a werewolf, another is when Edward and Bella got married.

    Stephenie Meyer is a great author and she did very good in these books just to bring joy to the people who love it.

    The bad things in the book there was none really the only one thing I didn’t like was how it had Jacob’s point of view it just wanted to know what happened in Bella’s side and everything that was happening to her it was so interesting. But I suppose that would make sense to get the reader to read on to see what happens to Bella.

    Breaking Dawn is a fantastic book to read and my rating out of 10 is 9/10 it was awesome!

    The age appropriate for JUST Breaking Dawn is I think 12 or older. For the whole Twilight Saga would be 12 too, because if 11 year olds read Twilight they wouldn’t know half of the words in it. They would have to have a dictionary next to them all the time.

    Breaking Dawn one of the best books i’ve ever read its was the best book I have ever read it had so much description and lots of things I loved and hope the person I motivated to read this will enjoy it as much as I did.

    Book Review By Stacey Lower 7Rohan

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hiya Sandy
    Today we had the children's book council awards and I did a short speech that Tye wrote. I met Tim Pegler again and met Robyn Bovarti, she wrote Dancing in the Dark. It was great to be part of something important.

    I have finished Linger, and it was AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    I totally recommend to you, after you read Shiver that is.


  1. STACEY, It was interesting to hear that you thought the second book in the Twilight series was the best. A lot of people have the same pattern when it comes to reading series. I am always very nervous that when someone reads my next series book they will say "it is not as good as the last one". I suppose that eventually will happen but as long as no-one says "that was awful"... *grin*

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sandy!

    The book i'm about to finished, Mortlock is a surprising book when it comes to heroes and villains. For example the whole book a character is 'supposedly' a hero but towards the end you find the truth which they are actually a villain which makes you WANT to read it to the end. Like in some other books i've read they persuade a character to believe they're good and when they lure them into the right position they unveil the truth. I can't wait to finish the book review on it!

    Lohgan =D

  1. TANAYA, The CBCA awards are always exciting (really exciting for me last year!) and I was especially pleased to see my good friend Sally Murphy win Younger Readers Honour Book for PEARL VERSES THE WORLD. It is a verse novel and one of those special books that truly is for readers 8 to 80.

    I have a review copy of Tim Pegler's FIVE PARTS DEAD on my desk and can't wait to read it! Might start this weekend.

  1. PS TANAYA Congrats on the speech. It's never easy to stand up in front of people and speak - so well done you!

  1. LOHGAN (whose name I will never ever spell wrong again *grin*)

    I am so looking forward to reading MORTLOCK. I ordered it with SHIVER & LINGER which TANAYA has read. I already knew about SHIVER and it was on my 'to buy' list becuase I read a grest review of it but you are doing an even better sell for MORTLOCK and now that's the one I am going to read first

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hiya Sandy
    In the Keepers, there was a villain that was pretending to be good if you get what I mean. And there were plenty of heros who saved the day.

    Heroes and Villains are good to have in a story cause it brings the story to life. you can't have a story where its all perfect, but if you think about it, you can, but it would be boring.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sandy
    Tegan was gonna read, well she read fifty pages of Five Parts Dead and put it down because of the amount of swearing in it.

    just warnin' ya if you don't like swearing.


  1. Anonymous says:

    The last book I read was Breaking Dawn and it had Heros and villains. The Heros are Alice and Jasper who saved Renesme life. The villain was I cant remember her name but the one who told on Renesme for being half human and half vampire.


  1. TANAYA, Is that THE KEEPERS trilogy by Jackie French Koller? You are so right about the importance of heroes and villains. Once I was writing a story and it was, well, boring - and then I realised I had no villain. Certainly enlivened the action when I added a really nasty one!

    Thanks for the warning about the language in FIVE PARTS DEAD. I don't mind swearing in a book, as long as its not for younger kids! and as long as it fits the story. If the latter is true then I find I am soon not even conscious of it but if I keep being conscious of it to the point where it intrudes on the story - then I don't like it.

    Makes me think of a Billy Connolly concert. His language is terrible but he's so funny and after the first few jokes I don't notice the language!

  1. STACEY so in that case it takes two heroes to face off to the villain! *smil* Must be a particularly nasty one - there's so much scope for villainry in the paranormal genre.

    Interesting too is the fact the heroes and heroines of the paranormal genre are often supernatural types who are the villains in other genres!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sandy! Tegan here! Unfortunately, I was away on Friday! I had to go to the orthodontist! Tanaya and I was going to read out the thing-a-mo-bob with her as well, but remembered I had to go to the tooth mechanic. Rohan almost gave me a heart attack cause he said that Morris Gleastmen (or however you spell it) (my favourite author) was comming on Friaday. Thank goodness he didn't! But I was really upset that I missed out on meeting Robyn Bovarti, who wrote dancing in the dark (another of my most favourite books ever!) I AM SO JEALOUS OF YOU TANAYA!

    Also; Sam & Cane in GONE, Bryn & Wilson in RAISED BY WOLVES (re-read!) Hector & Gulliver Truepin in THE EYEBALL COLLECTOR (re-read!!!!) Em & Nikki in AIRHEAD (re-read)

  1. Anonymous says:

    How about this for a sad start to a story? Tegan

    A poacher, in a red leather jacket, and black jeans, watched the sky, gun cocked and ready. His two dogs sat waiting with him. One, a bull arab, with broad shoulders and a blocky head. The second was a labrador, his golden coat blended in with the yellow grass around him.
    After a moment, two large wedge tailed eagles swooped into view. A large female, and a male. They swerved in and out, dipping and gliding. They called to each other in absolute love, making the world around them more beautiful and dazzling then it was before. There was a loud crack, and the male fell out of the sky, hitting the ground with a thud.
    Blood poured out of a hole in his neck, covering his glimmering brown and gold feathers red. The last he heard was the anguish cry of his mate before he was picked up by a tattered wing and thrown into a sack.

    Please could you put it on RWZ Writers? Hope you like it!

  1. TEGAN, I heard saw on the Internet that Andy Griffiths is coming to your school for his VERY, VERY BAD BOOK tour! I wish I was there for that. I know Andy writes for younger people but he is sooo funny and a fabulous speaker.

    I really like wolves stories, What's that one you mentioned, RAISED BY WOLVES, about?

  1. TEGAN, It's very descriptive and really packs an emotional wallop. I can tell this is a theme close to your heart.

    If I could make one suggestion I would say - don't tell the reader he is a poacher. Your strong language already points the reader in that direction. And maybe if you added a sentence where he was nervous about being seen, that would confirm it for the reader.

    What do you think? Will I post it as is - or do you want to tweak just a little.

    You are such an excellent writer!

  1. Anonymous says:

    Hi Sandy! Tegan here! Guess what, I'm going to miss out on seeing ANDY GRIFFITHS! I'll be in Canada the day before, with my aunty & uncle! Sigh, aw well. RAISED BY WOLVES is a very good book about were-wolves! Re-read! Its not scary, just a bit gory!

    That is a good idea about the poacher thing Sandy, I think I will tweak it a little bit.

  1. TEGAN, Any good book with wolves in it is a definite add to my 'to-read' list so thanks for telling me about that one.

    It's a shame you will miss Andy Griffiths. I've heard him speak a number of times and he is excellent - funny and informative. But Canada, well, that's a pretty good alternative!! I went to Canada once and it has the most magical scenery. I remember a wonderful waterfall called Kicking Horse Falls (I also thought it was a great name).