Tuesday, July 8, 2014
MAKE YOUR FEMALE VILLAIN STRONGER THAN HER GUN BY RITA KARNOPP
One of today’s hottest plots is the female villain. Really? The killer is always the jilted male, the psychotic male, the bomber male, the fired male, etc. Now we are introducing the really bad villain female. She is cunning, touch, intelligent, and twisted.
There’s nothing typical about the female villain, yet she’s believable in every way. Don’t make her the male version of a ‘bad guy.’ Once you get past that - you have liberty to create her however you want.
The reader hasn’t had a lot of experience with the really bad woman. We (the writer) have an opportunity to use that lack-of-experience and allow – even manipulate our readers to underestimate what she’s capable of. Make her believable and the reader is in for a lesson in ‘bad.’
You should make your female villain stronger than her gun. Keep this in mind and it’ll affect how you present your female villains.
You could easily make your female villain seem weak and vulnerable, yet underneath she’s intelligent, savvy, and coy; fooling everyone. I would refrain from making her the female Hannibal Lecter unless you can make her believable.
Your female villain can be tough, as threatening as any man, but don’t let the reader forget she’s a real woman. You can allow her to be hard on the exterior, but when she’s alone show her vulnerability. Readers identify with a character that cries in the shadows of her closet or under the sheets at night when she’s totally alone.
Like any male villain, the reader wants to know what makes your female villain tick. Was she a victim of rape? Did she feel responsible for killing her mother at birth? Was she blamed for a sibling’s drowning? Victimizing the female villain lends realism that the reader can relate to.
One last way to make your female villain real is by giving her a fear. What? Yep, think about it. Indiana Jones hated snakes and we all got off on seeing him squirm every time he had to face one or a pit of them. Relatable fears or phobias make characters seem real and give you an opportunity to use them to present obstacles and the human side of your female villain.