I wrote earlier that the villain is often more complex than the hero. He has to act in a way that is wrong. On the other hand, no man is a villain in his own eyes. How do I make this work?
As human beings we perceive the world through our own personal viewpoint. This includes all those things we believe to be true. Let me give you an example.
A 64-year-old man, Edgar Nernberg, was excavating a basement in March when he caught sight of black outlines of five fish in a block of sandstone. He contacted a paleontologist at the University of Calgary, Darla Zelenitsky. She reports the fossils were of a primitive fish, dating back 60 million years
Nernberg thinks the fish were most likely from the Great Flood in the Bible, about 4,300 years ago. Nernberg is a creationist who believes the Earth is roughly 6,000 years old.
Here we have two people living in the same city, working together on fossils, whose perception of the world is entirely different. You can bet neither of them will change their belief about the age of the universe.
We have all sorts of issues where people truly and passionately hold different beliefs. That’s why it’s a good rule to keep politics and religion out of the conversation. Other topics. Some people believe there is a relationship between childhood inoculations and autism. Some people believe there are aliens on other worlds in the universe. Other people believe the lunar landings were faked. And at the top of the list are the people who believe we are living in an enormous simulation inside some super computer.
It’s not the belief, but how it affects the person’s behavior. Nernberg and Zelenitsky can work together despite their different beliefs. When a person on drugs believes they can fly and tries to do so, the result can be fatal. Note the second part of the sentence. It’s acting on the belief that has the consequences.
Let’s put this all together in a story outline. A deeply religious man sees an alien spaceship landing. He believes that aliens must be the spawn of the devil so he kills the alien. If that story sounds familiar, catch an episode of ‘The Twilight Zone’ called ‘The Gift’.
Today the internet abounds with conspiracy theories, all with their adherents. Lizard People rule the world? Global Warming? Global cooling? The CERN Large Hadron Collider will create a black hole that will consume the earth?
Start with a belief. Then add an ego that won’t accept the possibility he/she is wrong. See where it goes because you have created the starting point for a truly horrific villain.
To see some of my short stories go to www.edwardmcdermott.net