Things that go bump in the night. The kinda things that the heroine or hero wouldn’t do. It’s the personality of that other character, the character that will teach your heroine and hero to find their better selves, to work together to defeat that villain and make Happily Ever After come true.
But first… that villain.
It’s your supernatural bad guy and he’s got to be believable. If he’s not believable, not three dimensional, then how will he ever give the good guys a reason to fight back?
I never set out to be a thriller/paranormal writer. I always thought I leaned toward romance with an edge…romance with a body count. I don‘t mind it all that I ended up where I did.
- Romance means a character meets a character and fireworks fly across the page.
- Action/adventure is the idea that somewhere in that story these characters are going to go somewhere where an escapade begins. I think it’s safe to say action will insure.
- Adding paranormal means that things introduced in plot, will not follow the same train as thought as reality wants to dictate.
Whatever your characters are facing, whatever bad guy has come for them, what happens in the story is an experience that is the hero and the heroine’s alone.
That is a valuable quality in a relationship between them. It pulls them closer, makes them realize this person is experiencing this event with me. They will turn to each other for support. They may have doubt and blame the other, if only for a moment … “If you had turned left instead of right, we wouldn’t be facing this disaster … “ It doesn’t last as they come to realize they need each other to get to the other side of normal.
But the bad guy, how do we get close to him? Knowing what part of the supernatural world he comes from will help define which way he goes. Their species might have laws dictating their direction to add to his own wants and desires.
Creating a decent villain is the same process as creating your hero. You plan, you plot and you get to know them in order to know how far they will go and what are the key points.
For Dead Men Play the Game I plotted out villain/vampire Walter Bennett’s background to a point of before he was even turned. I knew what he was like as a human. And those writers labeling their villain with “Ah, he’s just a psychopath, that’s why he does it…” is not the most well rounded way to go–too common and easy to use.
SPOILER: Walter was a psychopath.
I didn’t know that when I started. I knew that after I became afraid of the dark again.
MORE SPOILERS: When I was done fleshing him into existence, I knew his back-story: he had killed six people in the area where he was raised -– including his younger sister – before the vampire who turned him offered Walter the chance to kill forever. Walter didn’t even try to decline. Walter was psychotic.
I recommend knowing your villain enough to be cautions at night when you walk into that room before you turn the light on. If you use a formula to know your other characters, use it for the villain, too.
And you need to know what will work to stop him.
Examine the myths around your supernatural being to determine if you can explain why it’s that way, or perhaps figure out how to alter the rules to fit your universe. Example: a vampire cannot see his refection or be caught on film. Why is that? Because it was thought that the vampire’s essence would be repealed by the silver in the mirror or the camera. Only silver hasn’t been used in photography or furniture making for decades. There is a rule that can be altered with the story’s needs.
The placement of events: you do want to stay with odd numbers verses even numbers of events. Presenting an even number creates the feeling of balance, even when you are not aware the mind is filing. Odd numbers force your brain to seek interest, it makes your thoughts move in an unexpected patterns. It keeps you on your toes. Makes you just a little closer to “What was that noise?”
Writing paranormals is a bit more work than writing a straight romance. I am half-panster/half-plotter but when working on a thriller with a supernatural bad guy, I do have to have that minimum of planning of what event happens where, where does it take us, and finally, place them in position of the plot. Once that is done, I work around grid to create the rest of the story.
Seeing these stories unfold with comments from readers of “I couldn’t put it down …” makes it worth every moment of aggravation I might face putting a story together.
Jacqui is presenting her workshop, Things that Go Bump in the Night: Writing the Paranormal, starting on August 14th.
Award-winning author, Jacqui Jacoby lives and writes in the beauty of Northern Arizona. Currently adjusting to being an empty nester with her first grandchild to draw her pictures, Jacqui is a self-defense hobbyist. Having studied martial arts for numerous years she retired in 2006 from the sport, yet still brings strength she learned from the discipline to her characters. She is a working writer, whose career includes writing books, novellas & short stories, teaching online & live workshops and penning short nonfiction.