Friday, November 17, 2017

Making the Setting: The Villains of the Piece (Part Four)

This week we're descending from meta-narrative to narrative. Of those two mastermind-level villains I described previously, I'm putting work in on Red Eyes, so I'm writing a story about space pirates. As Red Eyes is the Pirate Admiral, his chief henchmen are going to be his subordinates and staff. At this point< i have a choice to make, which is to decide on the scale of Red Eyes' fleet. It's quite tempting to go with something small, as that's a clear historical parallel, but equally tempting is to go large- very large, such that Red Eyes' immediate subordinates are Admirals themselves.

I'll let you find out what choice I made when the story is ready for purchase, but for now it's time to get down to more immediate narrative concerns.

The reader demands that you capture his attention right away, which is why you ought to start your story as close to the Inciting Incident as it gets. For this tale, I'm starting with a pirate attack that targets our Space Princess for abduction. Our pirate leader is one of the more colorful crooks in the fleet: Dashing Jack. This is one of my double-meaning names, as he's both charismatic and fleet of foot, but nonetheless a thoroughly despicable cad.

Everything about this opening sequence is open for use in establishing Jack as the antagonist, as well as displaying Red Eyes as the greater threat behind him. Exactly what ruse is used, how it is used, and those executing the attack are important characterization details. A brutal, bloody-minded pirate uses intimidation to demoralize targets prior to straight-forward assaults that pound targets into submission. Then get on with plundering the prize and butchering those he cannot justify as booty.

Jack isn't that. Jack prides himself on deceiving his targets, and then taunting them when his cunning gets what he wants before they can do anything about it. From women to warfare, he's all about showing off how clever he is to display his superiority; he's with Red Eyes because the notorious barbarian see Jack as akin to himself- a superior man, entitled to take what he wants because he can.

(And yes, Dashing Jack will be wearing a mask.)

When using a lesser villain, remember that he has to reflect whom he's the stand-in for in some manner. Readers will expect it, so make that expectation work for you. Jack's mask will have red eye lenses, and that's just the most obvious reflections of being a man under Red Eyes' banner. Key words and phrases, operational habits, attire, and more are all there to show symbolically how Jack is the stand-in for Red Eyes in this story. The question I need to answer is "What aspect of Red Eyes does Jack represent most?", and you will have to wait for that answer also.

That about does it here. Leave questions below and I'll get to them as I can. Next week will be something different.