Note: It's safe to assume that everything in this journal is not a scientific fact, but personal advice from an artistically opinionated person.
Somehow I wasn't able to word that title correctly. "Making the villain right." "How to make the bad guy agreeable." Ultimately what I mean is, "How to side with the villain and desire to see their victory."
I'm not talking about the Megamind
story where the villain turns into the hero and vice versa, no, I'm talking about justifying immoral actions.
It's sort of a jumbled goal I'm having right now with my comic and maybe some other writers' curiosity has been piqued. The majority of this brainstorm is for my own organization but if you're interested then by all means don't click that dial.
I'm trying to make this mechanic perfect and realized that it's possible my biased love for the main character could undermine the story's logic. My story is called, "The Rise of Dr. Numbers" and it's basic premise is that a 24-year-old mathematician genius wants to "take over the world by any means." Simple villain motivation. I'm not spoiling absolutely everything when I say that she does so in the end. The earth comes into her total possession but I won't say how exactly. The point is, how do I justify the villain's actions and ending success?
What could I possibly do to make world domination by an eccentric smart-ass feel satisfying?? Here are some options I thought up.1. Make the surrounding world much worse by comparison. Make it deserve its impending doom.
This is the biggest and most logical option that I'm already in the process of developing. A couple details need to be fixed first.
I think I've mentioned this before: a universe within any work of fiction will always be fake. Any world that isn't ours will always have a level of fictional weight. Even if city in a fictional story is real, like "Seattle" for example, who lives there and what events take place are still moldable. You could also still bend small scale details like street names and building names. If you use a real location you will be expected to include a particular amount of physical detail of the real location. The only work in which a location is completely non-fictional is in a documentary or biography.
However, using a nonfictional location usually indicates that it's being used for a reason. If instead you made a city based on Seattle (culturally or aesthetically) and applied your own name, BOOM
it's all yours! You can do whatever the hell you want with it. The Rise of Dr. Numbers
takes place in "Cherryrim City," a massive scientific metropolis full of crime and a reeking dreary vibe. My idea was that if I made the city threatening and terrible enough, it would be a major relief to see it gone. However,
the world isn't worth destroying over one city. It's not balanced enough so that relief won't exactly be won. How do I fix this?
- Well one, the characters never travel outside Cherryrim, making it seem as if that is
their world. I was even considering in an establishing comic panel making the whole planet appear as if it's covered in city lights. However based on the nature of the story this would seem a little unrealistic, but still possible.
- Two, I could make the entirety of the world in a similar suffering condition. I constantly go back to thinking of the Noah's Ark story. If the human race really is displayed to be as hopeless and cruel as Numbers claims it is, she will be in the right (for the most part). This particular point brings me to my next idea.2. Create a desire to see the other supporting characters dominated. Give them a suitable punishment.
Take the above point and replace "location" with "characters." I already know this will be less effective because the world probably isn't worth destroying over a few assholes. But they can reinforce the first point with their actions and words, expressing that their world is a cruel place and the characters are products of their cruel surroundings. As such, the villain could be perceived as a lesser of two evils.3. Make the villain even more likable the right way.
Don't misinterpret this; even if a villain is likable it doesn't make their evil any more right. I know this is a very difficult concept and goes against all character karma. That is, the character in the wrong gets consequences and the one in the right gets rewards; it's the basic yin yang of story telling and the same goes here.
However, the nature of my story is dark. The reader is introduced into a world of neutrality while being exposed to Dr. Numbers' eccentric behavior right away. This makes it seem like she's pure evil. When it seems she's just an ill-tempered scientist, more and more of the world's conditions are revealed until it's full hopelessness is exposed to the reader. With this technique, I'm trying to push the character from the gutter to the spotlight, perhaps showing that she's not senselessly evil after all in an "I told you so" sort of way...4. Show the positive effects and seal a promising future.
...Because Dr. Numbers doesn't want the world out of pure greed, insanity, evil, or what have you. In "The Rise of Dr. Numbers" she expresses her fascination with science, math, and the universe as a whole very clearly a few times. She is simply impatient and upset at the humans of the world for being intentionally cruel, thick, and unwise. If the facts (or very convincing opinions) are there, her reasoning is very clear when she wants to change the course of human history for the better in a simple and peaceful "reset" sort of mind set. In the end she makes it clear that a utopia of some kind will be in the works for god knows how long.
There is one very important thing that factors into her character throughout the story and that is the display of trust she puts in people. Which is none obviously. The two supporting characters who assist her throughout become very important to her development. They give her compassion and respect despite her abrasiveness and it's only until the end Numbers realizes that because of them, not all people are untrustworthy. Imagine that without these two reasonable supporting characters to give the mood a breath of fresh air within the city's nastiness, Dr. Numbers would most likely lose her mind and go too far in addition to learning little from her situations.
Honestly, sometimes I forget this is supposed to be a sci-fi comedy. Just think, Noah's Ark.
This is an unexpected story of optimism for the smart people and I look forward to finishing it someday. It's in it's fetal stage at the moment.