At long last, we come to the end. It’s been an interesting journey, that’s for certain. I’ve learned a lot–and I hope you all have too.
But without further ado, let’s tackle the last writing trope I’m going to talk about: the Evil King.
Before we begin, let’s make this a bit of a broader term. The Evil King trope isn’t just a king. It can be any person in authority who’s… Shall we say… A bad guy. Think Sauron or Melkor from LOTR or The Silmarillion by the same author. Or King Miraz from Prince Caspian by C.S. Lewis. While we’re at it, you might as well throw in the emperor from the early ages of Star Wars or Thanos from all those Marvel movies. Basically the same character. A big bad guy; has power of some sort; generally evil.
Reason why it’s a trope?
Well, because it’s a pretty popular trope in all genres, not just fantasy. *looks guiltily at Lady Nuith*
The only way to really pull it off, of course, is to write good villains. And to be honest, that’s easier said than done.
Now, I’m not the biggest expert when it comes to writing good villains–you should all know that by now–but I have been told some useful tips that might come in handy for other people.
The main thing is characterization and character arcs. Honestly. If you have a lame villain in your story, nobody’s going to really care if the bad royalty guy is __________________. You fill in that blank.
For instance, let’s look at Lady Nuith from my Princess of the Highlands Trilogy. Danish lady, enemy of the Scots. King of the Scots marries her to bring peace with the Scots’ adversaries because the Scots can’t defeat them. Scots, of course, are understandably irritated at this. Said king dies. Lady Nuith remarries and takes the throne for herself, throwing the last remaining Scottish heir, Fiona, into “palace arrest.” Now, in order for her to safely establish her claim on the throne, Lady Nuith must produce a legitimate heir. If she does so, Fiona is as good as toast. But even before said child is born, Lady Nuith is already planning Fiona’s demise.
Now, in the first draft of this story, Lady Nuith was your typical bad step-mother who wants to kill the threat to the throne. (A.K.A. evil royal villain) I realized this, and other people pointed it out as well. Granted, I still have to work more on that in future drafts, but that’s not the point right now.
The point is, I fixed this problem (at least according to my readers) mainly in the second book. The child, Henry, is born and is about two years old. Fiona has long since escaped Lady Nuith’s clutches and for the third time, the Scots (with help from their Welsh allies) flare up again in rebellion to overthrow the Danes and drive them out of the country. Due to uses of various POV’s in third omniscient person, I was able to showcase the circumstances from Lady Nuith’s perspective on it and it was radically different from the view the reader had in the first book. Why? Because instead of Lady Nuith being “the bad guy,” she was just a mother who wanted her child to succeed in life (in other words, rule on her throne) and was willing to do anything to guarantee her child’s survival.
Maybe it’s just me and those who’ve read that story, but it seemed to give Lady Nuith a lot more depth as a person. It made her relatable to the reader instead of a flat character who’s just a stereotypical baddie.
So, when writing royal villains, whether they’re kings or otherwise, make sure their character is relatable. Or if they’re just plain crazy (like Thanos from the Marvel movies), make sure that they are believable. One tip of advice I’ve heard was, “Remember, the villain always sees himself as the protagonist.” Make sure your character has depth. 🙂
It’s been fun to do all of these writing trope posts, but I’m eager to get back into writing other stuff. Anything you guys would like to see from me in future?
If you would like to read or reread the previous installments in this mini-series, click on the links below:
Writing Tropes Part 1: The Wise Old Mentor
Writing Tropes Part 2: The Chosen One
Writing Tropes Part 3: Mary Sues
Writing Tropes Part 4: Damsel in Distress
Writing Tropes Part 5: The Hero
Writing Tropes Part 6: Secret Princess
A long while back, I was tagged in this blog book-lovers tag. I never did it, so here goes. ;P
Thank the blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog. Include the Book-Lover Blog Tag graphic and rules in your post. Answer the questions. Nominate at least 5 new bloggers to do the tag.
Thanks for the tag, Allison! Click here to follow her blog!
1. What is your favorite thing about reading?
The ability to transport myself for a time in another world. The characters come alive and I get to share in their struggles and triumphs, almost like being one of them.
2. Which male character is your favorite?
Aiee, why are you making me choose this?
Um, probably Angus McKeith from the Crown and Covenant Series by Douglas Bond. He was/is my most serious book character crush ever and he was the starting point for the whole Princess of the Highlands Trilogy idea and so many other books of mine.
Either him or Aristodemos from The Spartan by Caroline Dale Snedeker. Talk about tragic characters that you love and who make you cry. T_T
And did I mention Aquila from The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff?
Oh wait, only one character… 😡
3. Which female character is your favorite?
Hmm. Surprisingly I don’t read that many books with female protagonists.
Probably Ness or Flavia from The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff. I love their personalities and depth and the sadness around them both.
Or better yet, Lisa from The Book Thief by Marcus Zuzak. I love her character and the way she sees the world and acts.
4. Who is your favorite villain of all time?
Synoki from The Binding of the Blade Series by L.B. Graham. Such a well-rounded character that makes you really want to scream and slit his throat or whatever just because he’s so sneaky and evil.
5. Who is your least favorite character of all time?
Elsie Dinsmore hands-down. Sorry, but I can’t stand perfect people that are trying to be more perfect. It just makes me so irritated because it’s so fake.
6. Which book do you think has the strongest plot?
Good question. Probably anything by Charles Dickens. Full of twists and turns and so many details that all come together in the end that you feel mind-blown at the brilliancy.
7. What gets on your nerves the most in a story?
Okay, but in published books, it’s when I can predict what’s going to happen. Seriously. It’s the worst thing ever. It makes me so mad. Urghhhhhh
And don’t get me started on badly-done character tropes.
8. Which book you own has the best cover?
Uhhhhh I have no idea. I have so many books all with amazing covers.
9. Do you let people borrow your books?
Usually no. Unless I know the person extremely well. Or because I want them to read the book so bad.
10. If a movie could be based on any book, what would it be?
The Binding of the Blade Series by L.B. Graham. Please. I don’t care if it would take 10 hours to watch the entire series. I WANT TO SEE IT IN FILM. (Also with the music I wrote for it haha?)
11. Which author has inspired you the most?
Hands-down, it’s Rosemary Sutcliff. Reading her stuff is what made me interested in writing in the first place and I’ve always been trying to imitate her style. I love all her stuff.
12. What single book would you be unable to live without?
The Bible. It changed my life, literally, and I honestly can’t go a day without reading from it. It is the most important book to me in the world–even above all my favorite books on my shelf.
1. Verity Buchanan (https://www.verityabuchanan.com/)
2. Ocean McAllister (https://oceanemcallister.com)
3. Aria Maher (https://ariaemaher.com/)
4. Grace Johnson (https://bookwormgj.wixsite.com)
5. Claire Banschbach (https://clairembanschbach.com/)
That’s all for now folks!
2 thoughts on “Writing Tropes Part 7: Evil King”
Ahhh, I’m sad the series is over! But your posts were all so good! I agree, character arcs are so important to villains. Anyway, thanks for taking up my suggestion. I liked hearing your advice!
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