When I think of the “fantasy” genre, I think of imagination.
Nothing’s too big for the world you make up.
I grew up in the foothills of Yosemite, and my neighbors were the wildlife. I would come home from school, having already finished my homework, so I could venture into our backyard and let my imagination run wild.
Were there orcs behind a tree, waiting to attack me?
I was ready.
I had my “swords,” my “wands”, my “armor,” and everything I needed to survive in my fictional world.
The three biggest inspirations I’ve had, throughout both my life and the writing of Immortality Awaits, have been The Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and The Chronicles of Narnia series. To me, those stories capture fantasy. They’re not the only ones that do, of course, but these were the first three that introduced me, personally, to this genre.
In reading the above-mentioned series, as well as countless other novels in the genre, there is often one thing that I, as the reader, always question:
What about the other side of this story?
What about Voldemort’s thought process?
What is Sauron thinking while this is all happening?
What if the White Witch just wants to be understood?
It’s more than a little cliche to say there are two sides to every story.
Yet, in fiction, nonfiction, movies, anything with a story, we follow the hero.
We meet the villains throughout as they pose the challenges the hero must overcome, but what makes one character a “hero” and one a “villain”?
If you’ve read my post On Character Traits, you’ll notice I at least attempted to make full, well-rounded characters, because “heroes” are not perfect, and “villains” are not necessarily as evil as they are misunderstood.
This book has been through many revisions, as any book should.
But in one piece of feedback, I was told to cut the “villain’s” perspective — which, in this case, would be considered Druin.
I was told that if Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings were my primary sources of inspiration, I should “note they predominately follow the protagonist, and if I want to be like them, I need to write my story like that.”
This is probably the worst professional advice I’ve ever gotten.
I don’t wish to be like anyone.
My name is Andrew J. Stillman, not J.R.R. Tolkien.
My book is called Immortality Awaits, not Harry Potter.
I intentionally chose to focus on the “protagonist” and the “antagonist”, because they are one in the same. (From this point forward, I’m going to have spoilers from my book. If you haven’t read it and want to, stop now.)
First, let’s examine the differences between the two characteristics.
What is a hero?
The same definition would ring true for a “heroine.”
What is a villain?
“A cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime; scoundrel.” (Dictionary.com)
The Objects of Inwit, the series that Immortality Awaits revolves around, focuses on the Powers of Inwit.
From the third chapter,
“The Powers of Inwit know only one meaning: War. The manifestations of anger from all creatures have, at last, resulted in the Ultimate Powers becoming one. The elements of the world, in their most natural form, are the flames from the inferno, the water from the tears of our mother, the earth which we utilize to survive, and the air which keeps us alive. Each element shall find its way into two separate souls, and bind them together in a force yet unseen. The enemies shall find common ground within each other, as the Powers pick those of like mind. Each element only has the option of removing one other element, and once the Powers have settled into their vessels, the strength and cunning of the individual will determine the winner of this most ill fated war. Immortality awaits those without mercy.”
The intent of Donovan (the “hero”) and Druin (the “villain”) may be misconstrued.
Donovan is not the hero, nor is Druin the villain.
They are merely the vessels chosen by the Powers.
The story, the series, the everything revolves around the Powers.
The Powers of Inwit are metaphorical representations of sin, temptation, power, greed, lust, anger — every negative thought that will destroy us if we do not control it. The “villain” is the Powers, in their essence.
The “hero” is the person who conquers them.
From chapter fifteen,
“They view themselves as one unit, split into two contenders for ultimate domination. There’s a connection between all of you. And the Powers heavily influence each other. If the others continue to turn against each other and allow their Powers to destroy their bond, the influence will be strong for your Powers to do the same. Because there’s such a finite and unbreakable connection between you and your counterpart, you also have to maintain control and remember your own beliefs, your own self. That is vitally important. Your battles will be just as internal as they will be physical.”
If you have a hard copy of Immortality Awaits, and you check the back, you’ll see Never forget who the enemy is in huge gold letters at the top (this is also the general tagline of the book).
This acts as one of the main themes, as our worst enemies lie within ourselves.
Druin is his own worst enemy.
Donovan is his own worst enemy.
Everyone is their own worst enemy, because we all so often ignore our own selves in examination of others.
That’s what, in my opinion, creates a villain.
A lack of self-awareness.
A lack of compassion.
A lack of empathy.
A lack of ability to see things through another’s perspective.
In that way, we are all villains.
Yet we are also all heroes.
We have our own abilities to weave between “good” and “evil”, and it is what we make of our challenges, temptations, and sins that form us into the people we are.
That, in essence, is what I’m trying to capture not only with this book, but with this entire series.
I mean to examine the consequences of our actions, to show the similarities and differences between the characters, and to reach out to the broken-hearted.
For we are all broken.
We are all villains in our own sense.
But our negative tendencies do not make us “evil”, the same for Druin.
All of the “evil” characters in my book are merely broken spirits, desperate to find something to put them back together and seeing these Powers as a way to do so.
And my heroes are in the exact same boat.
So, if you haven’t read yet, even if you have, I hope you find a way to relate to at least one character, one situation, one idea that we are not alone, and despite any amount of negative traits we carry, we are not evil.
These characters are on a quest to find their salvation, as we all are, and who they are will change over the course of the series.
THE VILLAIN WITH A THOUSAND FACES – PART ONE: CARDBOARD CUT-OUTS
Have you ever felt like you were perceived to be a villain when you were trying to be a hero? Tell me about your experience in the comments!