Creating A Lovable Villain


Check out the blog writersinthestorm for some wonderful tips in a short, well-written article about creating a lovable villain by award-winning author Shannon Donnelly (Under The Kissing Bough) as she speaks of “villains we love to hate and how to keep them from becoming a cardboard stereotype whose every action is predictable and boring.”

“Nothing marks a writer as a beginner as clearly as the cliché bad guy.

This is the bad guy who is ugly inside and out with no redeeming qualities—this is the “boo-hiss” melodrama mustache twirling villain. And this is an easy fix in any story.

What’s that easy fix? Lots of things can help, but here are five quick fixes:

5 Quick Fixes to Make Readers Love Your Villains” –Shannon Donnelly

The article is definitely worth the read and I found myself thinking of one of my villains as I read Shannon’s advice.

I won’t say the assassin in “The Mystery of the Death Hearth” is exactly a lovable creature. Parzifal is, after all, a person who makes a living by killing. But he does have depth; that is to say as the story progresses, more is revealed about his background, his parents, his past and the horrid conditions among the less-than-honorable slave owners that helped create his inevitable destiny as a professional killer. He also has present-day motives that go beyond the daily, murderous tasks given him by criminal bosses. Parzifal has plans, high hopes for a new life, and a mental image of possibilities beyond his current circumstances having nothing at all to do with underworld crime. Does he manage to accomplish those personal goals? Can he successfully break away and fulfill his dreams? No spoilers here but I almost found myself rooting for this man even though he can and does make my protagonist’s life miserable to the brink of death.

I encourage a visit to writersinthestorm and read the rest of the Shannon’s article. Very interesting and informative.

Your next villain will appreciate it, too.

Quirkiness Traveled, A Poem



One of my many ongoing projects is compiling and sorting my poetry for publication. I came across this one recently in an old three-ring binder that also contained my homework from a writing course at McMurry University in Texas. Written (scribbled in pencil on faded, lined notebook paper, actually) in 1984, it is a rather tongue-in-cheek, simple doodle and not meant for anything but a smile, really. Prior to posting it on this blog, I made two changes. The original presentation was all text alignment left with no breaks between verses so I tweaked it a bit for visual interest to give it movement as you move from destination to destination as if actually traveling. Secondly, I changed the old city name of Bombay to the current Mumbai and altered the verse slightly to accommodate the name change. Without a great deal of editing and rewrite, this work will not (in all probability) make the final cut for inclusion in the poetry book so I thought I’d put it here in its current state. Why not? As someone before me so famously said, what’s life without a little whimsy?


Quirkiness Traveled

Does whimsy bounce at Wimbledon?

Shall we have that spot of tea?

No mad hatters haunting me.

What cold gremlins occupy the Kremlin?

Swig a shot of vodka down.

Laughter comes before a frown.

Do bells ring in old Belfast?

Can we hear them chime?

Their silence isn’t worth a dime.

How many rows to get to Cairo?

Paddle the blue Nile River.

Mummies make me shiver.

Do toucans fly high above Tucumcari?

Is there often pouring rain?

Praying for it’s all in vain.

How many girls named Lulu in Honolulu?

Grass skirts sway and wiggle.

Shaved ice makes me giggle.

How many tokes abound in Tokyo?

Crowded city’s sushi bars,

Anime and compact cars.

Is there good vanilla out in Manila?

John the Baptist, patron saint

Frequents bordellos do you think?

How many bays shimmer in Beijing?

Not many ‘round with poodles

Feasting on delicious noodles.

Is there mumbling in Mumbai?

Saffron colored serving stalls;

Hear the vendor’s barking calls.

Can we marry in Marrakesh?

Yes, certainly among the red halls

Just inside the ancient Ochre Walls.

How united is United Airlines?

Wonder if I will be fed?

Can’t wait to sleep in my own bed

And end my quirky travel.

Where do your poem ideas originate?

Easy answer: Any source that inspires a poem.

The writing process for me is the same be it poem, short story or novel. When ideas come, I scribble down a line or two capturing the essence of my initial thought then work it until complete. Capture the idea. Write the first draft. Rewrite and edit until satisfied.

In The Mystery Of The Death Hearth the poem ideas come from the story line. Each chapter opens with a poem or short narrative serving as a clue or mood-setter for not only that chapter but for the entire story.

In Chapter 24 for example, a key character—a hired assassin—reluctantly accepts a new target given by his employer. The opening poem sets the tone. After completing the chapter, the idea for the poem appeared and I jotted it down on my notepad. Here’s a rendition of the original idea.

 Death knocked upon the door.

The workman stood most weary;

Tired and spent without rest from labor dark and dreary.

Time he felt to quit this job, his muscles knotted, tired and sore.

Just one more thing he had to do:

Answer the knock upon his door.