One of the things I love about writing is the sense of self-revelation you often get by diving into the manuscript feet-first. This past week, I had to introduce my “bad guy,” and I don’t think the introduction itself was totally successful. I used to be able to visit a very dark place in my own psyche when it came to villains.
Writing villains, for me, was almost like becoming a character actor. I could live in the bad guy’s head for days or weeks, depending on how long the piece I was working on took. I often identified more with my antagonists than protagonists, and they kind of … crackled, I suppose, with this sort of manic intensity.
So what’s different about this time? Where’s the villain who walks with heavy feet, making deep impressions across the landscape of my manuscript? It hit me last night: I’m in a different place in my life than I’ve ever been. I’m married. A homeowner. Secure in my job. I don’t have that sense of desperation in my writing that I once had — and it’s certainly affecting how I write.
Understand this: it doesn’t affect my desire to write. I still feel the need to move that cursor across the screen, to tell the stories that are filling up my head. But in order to tell this one effectively, I have to be able to find that sense of anger/desperation/entitlement for my villain. And one thing that’s keeping me from it is knowing that in my mind I have to revert back to that mindset — and not wanting my wife to see it.
Now that’s hard. But I’ll get there somehow. Don’t want to leave this guy lifeless and two-dimensional on the page. He deserves better — and my prospective readers do, too.