The villain in Dividing Spirits is a demon named Axriel. An ancient, Christian-hating, apocalypse type demon.
When I first wrote the novel, I created Axriel to be hard-core, evil being. He had no redeeming qualities, he didn’t think nice thoughts, or show any weakness. He would foul, rude, arrogant…you know, pretty much what people think of when they think of a demon.
Then I ran the novel past a first set of critique partners. They thought Axriel was well-written, but that he was TOO evil. He creeped them out (which was good), but he was so evil, they just didn’t even like him as a villain. Okay, okay, I softened him up a tad bit. He didn’t curse so much, while he was still arrogant and rude, he wasn’t all the time in every single sentence.
In 2009, I went to the ACFW conference where Donald Maass was the early bird speaker. His big thing about villains was that they needed to have at least one redeemable quality. Even if he was never redeemed, the possibility needed to be there. Plus, how many villains are pure evil without that one thing, you know?
Okay, again, I went in a gave Axriel some humanistic qualities. Ten years ago, he was banished to Hell, and now he’s back for revenge and redemption. Redemption in the devil’s eyes, not God’s. He wants to prove himself the great demon he once was. He gets angry and frustrated when other demons have to keep an eye on him, when the only person he can “talk” to is a lowly human.
Fine, all of that is rewritten. Good to go.
On to the next round of critique partners…and they tell me he’s too soft! (insert image of me falling over)
What’s a woman to do?
I go one way and he’s too evil; I go another and he’s too soft.
There has to be a balance!
I’m sure there is. I’ll have to go over the novel and see what I can do to up the evilness without making him so unlikeable that people won’t want to read the book. I mean, there’s a balance in there somewhere, right?
Why is it when you have a villain that is more black and white, like a demon, it seems much more difficult to write than a more gray-area villain like a terrorist? Can someone explain this to me? Please?
Thank goodness for my critique partners, though. They love to help me brainstorm, so I’m sure I’ll be able to fix this little snag. One day. Maybe. For my future publisher’s sake. And my sanity.
Good thing the villain in my current WIP is a warlock bent on unleashing the next apocalypse. Yep. He’s human, I can give him more human qualities. He can care about his son. And his horse. Okay, maybe not the horse.
Now I’m off to crank out another 500 words or so. See what trouble Tristan and Karina can get into in a small village. Muahahaha…