January 15th, 2009


Inviting the World to Dinner

This is a fascinating idea. I wouldn't want to do it in a private home, but it could be great fun in a common building at an intentional community or a university or some other semi-public place.

Inviting The World To Dinner
Every week for the past 30 years, I've hosted a Sunday dinner in my home in Paris. People, including total strangers, call or e-mail to book a spot. I hold the salon in my atelier, which used to be a sculpture studio. The first 50 or 60 people who call may come, and twice that many when the weather is nice and we can overflow into the garden.

Suave actor Ricardo Montalban dies

I remember watching The Wrath of Khan at a drive-in theatre when I was young. Khan was scary in a way that horror-movie monsters weren't. He was, essentially, a human being gone berserk. Montalban was such a good actor, he really made you believe there was a whacked-out madman running around up there. For me, as a writer, that drove home the point that if you want to truly terrify your audience, you have to make them empathize with the villain ... put them into a space where they could imagine feeling what he feels. Then you've got 'em. If a door slams in that story, they'll jump.

Suave actor Ricardo Montalban dies
Ricardo Montalban, the suave leading man who was one of the first Mexican-born actors to make it big in Hollywood and who was best known for his roles as Mr. Roarke on ABC's "Fantasy Island" and the villainous Khan of the "Star Trek" franchise, died Wednesday. He was 88.

What makes a villain work?

Okay, the conversation about Khan, sparked by the recent death of actor Ricardo Montalban, got me thinking this would make a good post in its own right...

  • What makes a villain really scary or disturbing?

  • What makes a villain sympathetic?

  • What kind of motivations do you find most potent in a villain?

  • What kind of villainous actions do you find most exciting or unsettling?

  • Are female villains and male villains different in their evil, and if so, how?
  • Once you've hooked the reader into caring about the hero(es) and the villain, how do you use that to heighten story tension?

  • Which of the many villain motifs do you most enjoy?

  • Here are some other resources you might find helpful:

    10 Types of Movie Villains
    Top Evil Women on Film
    Villain -- the Wikipedia entry
    Villains -- types, elements, tools, & uses in a campaign
    Character Building: Good vs. Evil
    Character Motivations -- a good basic list
    A Character Motivation Primer -- more detailed exposition
    The Evil Character or the Evil in the Character? -- a conference paper, scroll down to find the excerpt
    Villains Wiki
    Peter's Evil Overlord List