I love writing villains.
Not the mustache-twirling villains of old that modern readers find laughable. Multi-faceted characters that I can exploit for good and evil, and in the process, surprise the reader. At his best, a villain will make the hero stop and take stock.
If the reader does too, all the better.
One trick writing books suggest for humanizing villains is to look at them through the eyes of someone who loves them.
In Deep Cover, the reader sees Emile Laud through the hero’s eyes as someone who would torch buildings for the insurance money without concern for who might be hurt as a result. We also see Laud through his niece’s eyes as someone who is generous and supportive.
The reader, of course, is left wondering who is right.
Laud is driven by ambition. He wants people to believe he’s wealthy and altruistic so they’ll admire him, because as a child he was scoffed at for being poor and unpopular.
By the end of the book, we see the consequences of his obsession. (no spoiler!)
Witnessing firsthand the villain that lurks inside each of us, the hero finds himself evaluating his own decisions.
Your turn: Is ambition a bad thing? Why or why not?
Food for Thought: Do you unconsciously try to fill a deep-rooted need in ways that might lead to unwelcome consequences?