by Madelle MorganThe secret is two words: character quirks.
And what better source for inspiration than extended family? Sit back at gatherings, observe, and use their strengths and weaknesses, unique idiosyncrasies and passions to humanize your villains. Change the names and appearances, of course!
My widowed mother suffered a health crisis in January and could no longer safely live alone, shop or cook. Two of my sisters and I lived with Mom in her apartment on a rotating basis until we were able to move her into a seniors residence on March 2.
I’d soon discover that aspects of my sisters’ characters were in fact villainous under those specific circumstances.
Sister One is hyper-vigilant about every substance that goes on or in her body: no tuna, mussels or most other seafood (mercury), only organic vegetables and greens (pesticides), no drinking out of lead crystal glasses (lead poisoning), and on and on. The rest of the family ignores her, being of the “everything in moderation” camp. I eat seafood and non-organic veggies. I drink from Mom’s beautiful 1950s lead crystal glasses on special occasions. I apparently live dangerously.
I had no idea Sister One would strong-arm a dependent person into compliance with her views. Mom wanted a new lipstick. Mom had to rely on Sister One to take her to the drugstore, who nixed the lipstick. The toxic chemicals! You’d think Mom wanted to smear cyanide on her lips! Sister One insisted Mom buy a natural lip balm instead. And she made Mom PAY for the expensive lip balm she didn’t want.
When Sister One moved her mother-in-law into a seniors’ home, she and her husband denied the woman the opportunity to choose what items to take, because “it was easier”. She wanted to do the same to our Mom. Both elderly women have all their marbles. They’re just in the unfortunate position of being at the mercy of their family.
The Iron Fist in the Velvet Glove
Sister Two calmly and rationally organizes Mom’s life under the guise of “this is what is best for you”, ignoring her protests and never asking for input or feedback. I witnessed Mom grow increasingly angry and frustrated under the gentle tyranny. “Always Right” Sister Two never listens to anyone, including me. But when she doesn’t listen to a powerless person and “makes it happen” anyway, it becomes bullying.
The Villain or the Victim?
Both sisters blithely took away Mom’s ability to make her own choices. Over time, don’t you think it’s enough to drive a person to murderous rage?
Such emotional abuse can escalate to physical and financial elder abuse. As co-executor of my grandmother’s estate a few years ago, I discovered that my bookkeeper aunt manipulated Grandma into paying for house renovations and utility bills in return for room and board. My partially blind grandmother signed post-dated checks to cover my aunt’s mortgage payments. God help my aunt’s larcenous soul. It was like taking candy from a baby. Would it then be an easy next step to bilk clients?
God help all dependent, powerless people, young and old, who are victims of abuse. Can you blame the victims for retaliating? Who then is the villain—the abuser or the victim in unbearable circumstances who lashes back?
Not all villains are evil. They could be your friends or family members. Under the right circumstances, the villain could be me. Or you. Sobering thought.
Madelle (who wears lipstick)
Madelle Morgan writes romance set in Canada.
Petra’s buddy Carter in Madelle's romantic thriller Diamond Hunter on Amazon is a good guy gone bad—a secondary villain. Read it for free in Kindle Unlimited.
5 stars! This Romantic Dramedy is wonderfully written. Catrina is both beautiful and flawed, strong in spite of the past horrors. While not as lighthearted as Caught on Camera, it still manages to to read like your favorite movie you keep in your DVD collection. —Goodreads review
Last Chance to buy at $0.99! Seduced by the Screenwriter is available on Amazon free in KU and for $0.99 to buy until the end of March. After that, it will go wide (Kobo, iBooks) and revert to the permanent price of $3.99.
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