Shapeshifter vs Shapeshifter

December 19, 2008 at 2:58 am (General)

eternalmoon-3001With my Berkley Moon books, I want my readers to fall in love with my werewolf heroes. They have to be sexy and appealing.  Not necessarily wildly handsome.  But they’ve got to have that alpha male sensibility that make them larger than life.  And they live by a code that’s outside the human norm. I love writing these guys because they represent my ideal fantasy men.

I’ve got more problems with the other major male characters in my stories– the villains.  Even though I’ve got more leeway with them.  They can be handsome or downright ugly. They  can be charming or grating.  They can be outwardly friendly to the h/h or outwardly hostile.

But you’re walking a fine line with these guys.  If you make them pure evil, then they’re going to be less interesting to the reader.  Still, you want the reader to be rooting for their downfall.

In the book I’m writing now, DRAGON MOON, the bad guy is a shapeshifting dragon who lives in a parallel universe and wants to invade our world.  And I want the reader to understand how he developed into a menace to humanity.   When he was weak and powerless, humans took advantage of him, giving him valid  reasons to strike out against the human race.  And things got much worse for him about a hundred years ago when the people who live in his universe developed paranormal powers.

But it’s not so simple.  Because–um–how can I say this without giving away the secret of this book?  He’s going to be the hero of another book.  So he has to be bad enough to make a formidable enemy now.  Then the reader has to understand how he gets rehabilitated. It’s an interesting challenge.  And an unusual one, because I can’t tell you the exact situation.  You’ll have to wait for DRAGON MOON (coming in November 2009) to find out what I’m dealing with.

Which brings me to the question–what do you want to see in a villain?  And how do you feel about a villain ending up being the hero of another book?




  1. Lindsey Ekland said,

    Villians can be mean and plan the downfall of the hero/heroine without becoming creepy/chilly. When it becomes nasty I do not want to read the story. There is enough ready made horror in the world why would I want to poisen my mind with filth.

    When a villian is not evil to the core but is instead created by circumstances and so not truly evil then can be rehabilitated. I can root for him after he is defeated and shown the error of his ways. Then there is the redemption by a good woman and her love to add another layer to the story.

  2. Gini said,

    I have no problem with a villain becoming the hero in another book.
    It doesn’t work when the reasons for their reversal in behaviour is too rushed or simplistic and not enough pages in the book are given to allow full development and explanation of the how and why this character has changed. It’s a tall order in a 300+ page book I would imagine. I’ve read series of books when it’s worked really well from my readers point of view. e.g. Adam Black in Karen Marie Moning’s Highlander Series and other times when it doesn’t work at all well. e.g. Tristan in Maggie Shayne’s Forever Enchanted – there was not only plot anomalies between this book and the one where he was the bad guy “Fairytale” but the poor explanation of his changes didn’t work for me, having said that I did enjoy the book although it would have been better if I hadn’t already read Fairytale.
    He can be as evil as you like in other books, that won’t put me off reading about him becoming the hero in another book, if anything I’d be more inclined to read it as I’ll be intrigued to see how you are going to explain his change and win me over into wanting to see him have a happy ending. Also interesting would be how the heroine deals with him and his evil past.
    You’ve set yourself a great challenge, good luck!

  3. Karin said,

    I don’t enjoy those purely evil villains unless that evil is hidden behind a mask so it isn’t readily apparent. A villain who at first appears as someone likely to help the h/h is usually the most villainous for me. I also enjoy villains who show flashes of kindness, in some form or other, toward the other characters. It just makes their villainous activities seem even more so in comparison.

    I actually enjoy villains who can be redeemed in other books. I think the reason for that is that it shows that there are people who aren’t all evil and can turn their lives around for the right incentives. Of course, it has to be well written to be believable and there has to be a valid reason for the change.

  4. Deidre said,

    Well, even bad guys deserve to be loved. I like a sexy villain, someone that you just love to hate. LOL


  5. Jennifer St. Giles said,

    LOL Rebecca, Can’t wait for Dragon Moon and love heroes who were kinda of on the dark side just a little. Reminds me of Spike on buffy

  6. Michele said,

    I like to read a series where the villian isn’t completely dark and later becomes the hero. Adds more spice to the book. Cynthia Eden’s next book and last book in her series is about the “villian” turned hero. Can’t wait to read his story.

  7. Janet H said,

    If the villian is going to be the hero in another book, he can’t be unredeemable. He can be ruthless and singleminded, but he has to be able to give up his agenda in the end. That is what gives me the ability to believe in his new hero status. I always find the villian of one book who is made the hero of a later book very interesting reading.

  8. Maude said,

    I love reading stories where the supposed villain is redeemed. My only concern is when the writer forces the character to act uncharacteristically. I love dragons so I would love to read this story.

  9. Alaina said,

    i agree.. i prefer the villains to have redeemable qualities… or die outright..

  10. L2 said,

    If a villain is redeemable in a believing way, I have no problem with that happening and seeing him get his true love in another book.

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