There is nothing in the world of writing that can beat good-old-fashion brainstorming session with another writer when it comes to creating ideas for a new book.
Take for example the next subject we are working on for our Dottie series of teaching books. Villains. That’s right. Villains. How to create them, how to give them interesting personalities and how to kill them off.
But, and isn’t there always a but, we were stymied on how to explain the differences between a full-blown, really nasty villain such as a psychopath and a run-of-the-mill villain, such as a petty criminal. Then there are the antagonists and the anti-heroes who might play a role as villain. How does one tell the difference between all these levels of villains?
The answer: we brainstormed the problem over a tasty breakfast at our favorite working/eating restaurant.
First we stated the problem which was how to explain the different types of villains and how they were created. Of course that is two problems, but they are interconnected or at least they seemed to be.
SUE: I think we should divide the villains into two groups. Start with the classic villains such as sociopaths, mentally unstable folks and throw in the witches, aliens and monsters. Then we can put the lesser villains such as the antagonists into their own group.
SUE: Hmm. Interest point. We should start at the beginning. Ah, I’ve got it. Let’s start with a lump of clay.
BECKY: Clay? You’ve got to be kidding.
SUE: No. Clay. Let’s take this lump of moldable clay and see what we can do with it. Okay?
Here we go. Clay is clay right? So we can safely say that some villains are like clay. They are simply born or create that way from the get-go.
BECKY: Got it. This would include aliens, beasts, witches… all those villains that can NOT changed or those where NO change is possible. And let’s throw good old mother nature into this category. She does what she does because she is born that way.
SUE: Right. But now we take that lump and put it into a nasty or evil environment and what happens. The clay turns into a nasty or evil villain.
BECKY: But there are other factors that influence our formation of a villain. Science and technology and other people. Environment, it seems to me, is only one factor in molding this villain into what he/she will become.
SUE: Right! Some villains are born evil, while others, may be born with evil tendencies, it depends on their surroundings, which include both environment and people to nourish these minds and turn them into villains
BECKY: And depending on the level of rage or hate thrust upon our lump of clay, this will determine their level of evilness.
SUE: By George, I think we’ve got it.
And we did. That's how we'll be working on categorizing our villains. Brainstorming depends on the give and take of the writers and the ability to change directions, open their minds to new ideas and in general, to simply go with the flow.
Look for our next book in the Let’s Write a Story series, Creating the Villain, which will be out in the winter of 2017.