Villain Motives

I am currently plotting my next book and it’s mostly going pretty well. I have my characters figured out, the arc for my main character, a couple subplots and minor characters that will pepper the story. I know the setting, a general sense of demographic and the overarching themes. I even have the challenge that I’m going to put in place for this book! There’s just one thing left that I’m avoiding.

You’d think that the motivations of your villains would be easy, but I always leave it to the end and then over think it. The villain should be opposite in many ways to the theme and lead character in ideology, but not in a way that’s alienating. There should be something familiar about the villain, like someone you could actually know, and they should have motives that make sense, even if they are being set up in a way that implies the audience should disagree with them. Adjust how sympathetic they are based on how sympathetic the lead is.

It’s a lot easier when I have a singular person to work against the protagonist and the villain is the antagonist, but that’s not really the case for this one. The villain is just the means by which the awful things happen and where the aggression is coming from and directed at, while the actual antagonist exists more theoretically.1 And I really want to do a story with end of the world stakes, so I need this villain, though I am agonizing over just what to make out of them.

I could pants2 it, but I do love me a good plan, even if I don’t stick to it. There’s a nice security to it and knowing that I know how everything in this world works, not to mention why everything is happening, before I go in. I am a planner and a plotter at heart, no matter how much I deviate from my notes during the writing process.

In the end, the villain takes on a life of its own while I’m writing and becomes much less of a list of traits and things to represent. The motives shift and change to make more sense in the context of the story, or the villain changes to someone else entirely who makes more sense with how the story actually ended up.

  1. It’s a Woman vs Self story in the end with an antagonist to give the whole thing a bit more direction []
  2. Pants: Making it up as you go []

Books as Babies

It’s something I have heard a lot of times before. “My book is my baby.” Some people disagree with this statement. I am one of them. Still, I am willing to figure out a way to make this analogy work.1

The initial idea for a book is like a baby. It’s new and just sprang out of nowhere2 into your lap. It has so much potential and you have no idea what it’s going to become, but it’s yours and you are going to try your hardest to do right by this little adorable thing that you have created. It will be fun to raise and to figure out how to make it into something you can be proud of. You know you can nurture it just right. You might even make a complicated plan to make sure of it.

Childhood is the first draft. You get to play and have fun with your little idea and watch it grow in unexpected ways. All those carefully laid plans you made during infancy are being put to the test as it takes on a life of its own. You talk about it with other parents3 and sometimes go on related blogs and forums when you’re having trouble, but all in all you are still happy with and proud of your little creation. And when it finally graduates elementary school, you take a look back and realize maybe you shouldn’t have had quite so much fun and let it go off wandering quite so often.

And then the teenage years hit with the rewrite.4 At first it seems fine. It’s not so bad. And then you realize that some of the things your poor little idea is doing makes no sense. It doesn’t realize what the implication of its actions are. You start arguing, trying to straighten out as many of these bad habits that it’s developed as you can. Your book resists, of course. But that shirt looks great on me, look how nicely it’s written! That character totally has a place – you always need a musician! You just don’t understand how to use a comma splice anymore, author.

Somehow, your book has graduated and gotten into a nice school where it will live on the campus. This is where your editor(s) come in. You get a break away from your demon creation while someone else helps smooth out the rough edges, you just having to deal with it on breaks, though it seems that the breaks are too long and the time away is too short. You still love the thing, but these new ideas it brings back can be hard to get your head around. You work with it as best you can and try to be supportive. You’re getting tired and really want to see it on its own two feet. You are enjoying the quiet that comes with it no longer being in your hands.

And then it comes back from college, diploma in hand, and you realize just how much you missed it. It’s all done, ready to go. Or so you think. It makes a home in the basement. It doesn’t want to go out and do something with that degree. Do you know how hard it is out there? It could just stay home and play video games and have you take care of it for the rest of its life. It never has to come out again.

That’s when you have to get tough. You pick up your book, you go over every possible thing it could still do and you force it to go out and get a job. You have taken care of it for long enough. You raised it from when it was a little idea and you are proud of it. You do love it. And you know it can do it. It just has to do it somewhere other than your house because it is time, dammit.

On a related note, I’m kicking White Noise out of the house on Saturday. He needs to get a damn job.

White Noise (Kindle Edition)

By (author): Tanya Lisle

Kindle Edition: Check Amazon for Pricing Digital Only
Release date October 22, 2014.
  1. Mostly because I am in desperate need of a break from editing. []
  2. We’re going the immaculate conception route on this analogy []
  3. Writers []
  4. Skipping middle school because I have never been and cannot speak for what is surely an awful experience []

Editing Burnout

So after the last update, I do what I usually do when I try to promise a vlogging schedule. I dove head first into work and completely forgot that vlogging is a thing.

Since then, I’ve completely rewritten two books: The Jabberwocky’s Book1 and White Noise. Jabberwocky’s Book is now completely done and ready to go for Jukepop for December, with White Noise on the last couple edits before it will also be ready for whatever I plan to do with it.

And I am exhausted. As many of you know, rewriting is a lot harder than writing. Editing is harder than rewriting. Working on two books at the same time doing these things has been the opposite of a good idea, as it turns out. I thought I’d cut down on the time, since I could work on the rewrite or edit of one while my editor took a look at the draft and then it could just be swapped back and forth. There would always be something to do, which is great!

Except it really isn’t. Writing with the intent to be good at writing takes a lot more out of you than writing to tell a story. Add in the fact that there is no down time while you wait for the other person2 and the fact that White Noise is both heavier and in need of more work and it’s left both of us not wanting to look at anything after this is done for a while.

I thought I could do this. No problem. I’ve been doing so well this year getting things done and being generally far too productive for my own good in getting things written and done. I figured two more would be fine. I’ve been writing while my editor had my stuff. It was just editing two novels at once and it wouldn’t be that bad.

This is never happening again if I can help it because I am not going to be able to bring myself to edit anything for a few months after this. I don’t even want to think about thematic appropriateness and whether characters belong in this scene and whether this even follows character motivations or rules of the universe anymore. I need a break and some fun writing again. I think my editor just needs a break, period.

White Noise is almost done, and when it is I am going to sleep until November. Because in November, Nanowrimo happens and I’ll have new things to edit by the end of it.

  1. The next in the Looking Glass Saga []
  2. I know my editor’s a little burnt out from all this too, so it goes both ways []

Trying out Patreon

I know a lot of people doing the Patreon thing lately and it just got too tempting to go without at least giving it a shot. It seems like just the motivation I’ll need to get everything moving and finished at last instead of just staring at these projects and leaving them in various states of almost completion.

So explaining things.

What is Patreon and why am I using it?

Patreon is a site for folks like me who make creative projects and the fans who want to support those creative projects. It’s a bit like Kickstarter, except that it’s ongoing. You’d donate per book once it comes out and still get access to whatever bonus content that I put up. You’d also get rewards based on donation amount, much like Kickstarter.

I plan to use it to fund novels that I’ve written and really need to get on editing. The promise that there will be people who want to read them when they’re done is enough to get me focused on finishing existing ones instead of starting yet another new one. Not only that, but the tiers would give people a chance to have a little control over what’s to come – whether that’s which book I work on next or the names of a couple characters.

After trying out Jukepop Serials, I’ve pretty much decided that I like serialized fiction but want to do a true serial instead of just a novel released slowly. One of the projects listed on there is a serial where I’d release each episode free and collect the book once it’s done.

Then there’s the book I’m actually releasing on Jukepop and the whole series that comes after Return to Wonderland. And all the novels I’ve written for Nanowrimo that I need to edit. And the novels that I have plans to write but haven’t actually gotten around to writing yet.

If you want to give me a hand with all of this be sure to check me out on Patreon.

I;m going to leave the page up for a week to see if I get any patrons. If anyone ends up being interested, I’ll keep going with it. I kind of hope it works out, though. It seems like it would be a fun way to get all these books written.

The Reading Edit

One of the last rounds of editing: Reading it out loud. It’s horrifically embarrassing if you do it too early on in the writing process, but as I’m just about done, it didn’t turn out too bad. Just a few more tweaks left and off it goes!

You can find the guidelines for the Sword and Laser Anthology here: