Muhahaha, Petty Thieves, Savage Beasts, and Maniacal Megalomaniacs!
Now we just add a pinch of hate, a cup of revenge, a dash of ill intent…What am I doing, you ask? Well…
This week’s Writing Group prompt is:
The Making of a Villain
RULES AND GUIDELINES BELOW!
Make sure you scroll down and read them if you haven’t! You may not be eligible if you don’t!
This prompt is a wonderful one for our group. Each week we get stories of heroes, of normal people, of morally grey characters…and, while villains sometimes get the spotlight, often they are in the background—always lurking, popping up from time to time for a good fight, or a nice monologue.
The first place my mind goes to with this prompt is a villain’s origin. This is the Joker falling into the acid, Doc Ock’s arms malfunctioning, Dracula’s wife being murdered. This prompt could easily be used to show your readers the moment your villain became a villain. Does this scene make us feel bad for them? Or only make us hate them more?
But, something I love about this prompt is that it is not “The Origin of a Villain.” It’s the “making.” And making—while it can be a single incident—often takes place over the course of many weeks, months, years. For immortal characters, it could even take place over the course of lifetimes. Like baking a good cake, people aren’t made instantly. Maybe someone is slowly molded into the form of a villain by their abusive parent, by their cruel society, by an uncaring spouse, or even by the demons in their own head (literal or figurative). You could write a story about a child crying, just wishing their father loved them. About the teenager bullied at school. About the adult trying so hard to fight their own head. Each of these stories could be how a villain is made in one way or another (just be sure to give us some hint at their later villainy). Stories like these could be a great way to show how complex becoming a villain is, and how villains are often humans just like heroes.
Or…maybe your villain isn’t sympathetic at all. Maybe you want to show just how evil your villain is. Voldemort didn’t really have a moment in his life that turned him evil. He was born through a love potion, and thus incapable of love. If you were to write about his making, you could write about his mother using the love potion long before he’s born. Or you could write about another character wondering why he became evil, and failing to find an answer. You can easily write a story about your hero demanding “Why are you so cruel? What made you this way?” only for the villain to laugh and say “No one made me. I made me.”
But villains aren’t always people. They can be beasts and monsters…or even corporations, societies, governments. This is perhaps a more challenging use of the prompt. You could write a story about how a group started out with a noble goal, but slowly became more corrupt. What was it that started the descent? A corrupt CEO? A single rule change? Someone sitting in their office playing basketball with their garbage can? What made them what they are? Or perhaps you want to write the beasts in the fog. How did they become what they are? Is there something in the fog that made them go mad? Are they simply driven by hunger? You could even write about an evil alien race. What makes them evil? Is it nature or nurture? Are they just trying to protect themselves?
Because that’s another thing about “making” a villain. Someone can be made into a villain when they’re not truly a villain. This is where “history is written by the victors” comes into play. You could write a story about your character realizing the person they thought was the villain all along was actually the hero, and vice versa. This is also where things like propaganda come in. Propaganda can make someone out to be the villain who isn’t, all the while hiding the true villainy behind the posters. There are plenty of stories you could write about how someone was carefully crafted into a villain—your character speaking with their cellmate in jail, hearing them say they were wrongly accused; the supposed “villain” pleading “Please, I’m trying to save you!”; the main character trying to fight the horrible rumors going around. You could make it even simpler than that: the hungry wolf could be a sympathetic hero, or a horrible villain, depending on who’s telling the story.
You could take the prompt more literally. Sometimes characters have need of a villain, and manufacture them in some way. This is Morgoth taking the elves and breaking them so far that even their children are monsters. This is Megamind giving an ordinary man superpowers, trying to create a hero, and instead creating a villain. Does your villain need a henchman? Does your hero need someone to fight? Why might someone force another into the mold of a villain?
I have three challenges for you this week.
My first challenge is one you might expect: this prompt is a very dark one, and I challenge you to make your story more silly or lighthearted! This is the time to bring out the recipes for evil overlords, and the cheesy monologues. Show me the silly villains in amongst the seriousness of the prompt.
The second is to make it Father’s Day related in some way. Villainy may not be the best way to show our father’s love this week, but Vader and Ozai have taught us that sometimes fathers make for great villains…
The third challenge is the most unique and, well, challenging. This challenge is to write what I call a “mirror story.” This is two scenes, with a break between them, that mirror each other. The easiest way to explain what this is is through examples: this means writing about a character being bullied, then having a time skip, and showing in your second scene how they have become a bully themselves. Writing about a child homeless on the street, then showing them in a dark castle, wealthy…and alone. Writing about how one character thinks they’re doing the right thing, and a second perspective on the same scene sees their villainy. You could even write the first scene as someone being a villain, and the second scene as them looking back and regretting that they made themselves a villain. (This story I read on the stream is a perfect example of what I would call a “mirror story”). I love stories that write about a time in a character’s life, and then either fast forward, or flashback, to show how things have changed…and yet stayed the same. Or stories that show the same scene from multiple perspectives. Show how your villain became who they are through different moments in their life. Show how your villain tried to fight for justice once, and now creates injustice. Show how they tried so hard to curb their darker impulses…and how they failed. It can be difficult to do two scenes and/or a time skip in these short stories; I definitely think this could be one of the more difficult challenges, yet one that could create quite profound stories.
You get extra brownie points if you do all three! It would be especially challenging to combine a mirror scene with something lighthearted, but I think you guys can do it!
Remember, these challenges aren’t mandatory! They are meant to be a fun bonus if you’d like to have a little extra challenge. But, if you don’t want to use them, please don’t feel obligated to!
Now, where was I? I was just about to add the motivation…Oh no. I think I made them too hot.
Remember, this is part of our weekly Writing Group stream! Submit a little piece following the rules and guidelines below, and there’s a chance your entry will be read live on stream! In addition, we’ll discuss it for a minute and give you some feedback.
The whole purpose of this is to show off the creativity of the community, while also helping each other to become better writers. Lean into that spirit! Get ready not just to share what you’ve got, but to give back to the other writers here as well.
Rules and Guidelines
We read at least five stories during each stream, two of which come from the public post, and three of which come from the much smaller private post. Submissions are randomly selected by a bot, but likes on your post will improve your chances of selection, so be sure to share your submission on social media!
Text and Formatting
- English only.
- Prose only, no poetry or lyrics.
- Use proper spelling, grammar, and syntax.
- Your piece must be between 250-350 words (you can use this website to see your wordcount).
- Use two paragraph breaks between each paragraph so that they have a proper space between them (press “enter” or “return” twice).
- Include a submission title and an author name (doesn’t have to be your real name). Do not include any additional symbols or flourishes in this part of your submission. Format them exactly as you see in this example, or your submission may not be eligible: Example Submission.
- No additional text styling (such as italics or bold text). Do not use asterisks, hyphens, or any other symbol to indicate whether text should be bold, italic, or styled in any other way. CAPS are okay, though.
What to Submit
- Keep submissions “safe-for-work”; be sparing with sexuality, violence, and profanity.
- Try to focus on making your submission a single meaningful moment rather than an entire story.
- Write something brand new; no re-submitting past entries or pieces written for other purposes
- No fan fiction whatsoever. Take inspiration from whatever you’d like, but be transformative and creative with it. By submitting, you also agree that your piece does not infringe on any existing copyrights or trademarks, and you have full license to use it.
- Submissions must be self-contained (everything essential to understanding the piece is contained within the context of the piece itself—no mandatory reading outside the piece required. e.g., if you want to write two different pieces in the same setting or larger narrative, you cannot rely on information from one piece to fill in for the other—they must both give that context independently).
- One submission per participant.
- Submit your entry in a comment on this post.
- Submissions close at 12:00pm CST each Friday.
- You must like and leave a review on two other submissions to be eligible. Your reviews must be at least 50 words long, and must be left directly on the submission you are reviewing, not on another comment. If you’re submitting to the private post, feel free to leave these reviews on either the private or the public post. The two submissions you like need not be the same as the submissions you review.
- Be constructive and uplifting. These submissions are not for a professional market, and shouldn’t be treated as such. We do this, first and foremost, for the joy of the craft. Help other writers to feel like their work is valuable, and be considerate and gentle with critique when you offer it. Authors who leave particularly abrasive or disheartening remarks on this post will be disqualified from selection for readings.
- Use the same e-mail for your posts, reviews, and likes, or you may be rendered ineligible (you may change your username or author name between posts without problem, however).
- You may submit to either or both the public/private groups if you have access, but if you decide to submit to both, only the private group submission will be eligible.
- Understand that by submitting here, you are giving us permission to read your submission aloud live on stream and upload public, archived recordings of said stream to our social media platforms. You will always be credited, but only by the author name you supply as per these rules. No other links or attributions are guaranteed.
Comments on this post that aren’t submissions will be deleted, except for replies/reviews left on existing submissions.