Now back to the regularly-scheduled blog topic:
Villains: do you need them? When do you use them, and what is the most diabolical type of villain to you?
Villains aren't always necessary to plots. In my contemporary romances there might be annoying or mean people, but no real villains. But in my romantic suspense novels there are villains.
What is a villain? Someone who lives for schadenfreude: taking pleasure in the misfortune of others. This kind of person can be male or female, but the one thing that identifies villains is their delight in seeing others in pain, especially if they caused the pain. Every villain wants someone else to be suffering, and they want to watch. Empathy isn't something they ever learned, so they don't care how badly their actions make someone else feel--in fact, the worse the reaction, the better.
This helps explain why I can't get into BDSM as a genre. I can't imagine enjoying pain, though I've read that many people do. (Did you hear the old joke about the sadist and the masochist? The masochist says, "Beat me, please!" The sadist smirks and says, "No!") When I read about one person hitting another, I imagine the agony that the victim, or I guess, the "hittee" must be feeling, because that's how I'd feel. There's a couple of scenes in one of my books that involve a side of violence along with the main course of sex, but the one doing the violent acts turns out to be the villain. Violence is scary, not sexy to me.
There are murderous villains in a couple of my books. In Secret Love, the IRA (Irish Republican Army) guys are heavily into violence of all kinds. Their idea of entertainment is to pick fights in bars, and they will cheat to be the winners. They work to raise money to buy guns to send back to Ireland, to perpetuate the violence in the streets because they think their cause is right, which justifies any level of violence and cruelty. And in Undercover Lovers, there is a serial killer who enjoys torturing and murdering female agents...he's certifiably insane.
In my Mayan alien vampires books, Prophecy of the Undead, and Mayan Prophecy Fulfilled, the villains are the vampires and their minions who are playing the long-game, by preparing the people of earth to become slaves to the alien vampires who visited here before, and promised to return again. Not all vampires are involved with the plotting, and many are shocked to find out what has been going on for thousands of years. In these books, the acts of villainy aren't so much violent, as controlling. They seek to keep humans multiplying, but dumb, so they won't be able to fight off the return of the aliens. Since I see education as a life-long, enjoyable exercise increasing intelligence for the sheer pleasure of it, the idea that some would be plotting to dumb-down humanity is appalling...the epitome of villainy.
What about you? Do you agree with me about villains?
To find out what the next author in the Round Robin thinks about villains, head to: Ginger Simpson at http://mizging.blogspot.com