My Favorite Villain: Sassy and Brassy
January 15, 2017
How does a character emerge from the mist of a writer’s brain and slowly crystallize into a living, breathing character? Some writers have a solid handle on their main character. Shaping and developing the character usually goes smoothly for this protagonist because the character is probably what sparked the need to tell the story.
When I wrote the first book of my series the main character was fixed firmly in my mind. I dreamed about her for years, visualized her clothes, her hair, her mannerisms. By the time I sat down to write the story, I knew her well.
I even knew what her love interest looked like, knew his personality, the way he thought about life, etc. The stories from my childhood fashioned these two characters.
But, I wrote these stories as fiction.
I wanted to create the world in which they lived. Armed with research of the era and the setting, I set about weaving tales of romance and suspense. That part came easy, but I was about to hit a snag.
HERO’S, VILLAINS, AND RUNNER’S UP
What of the other characters? The antagonist, the secondary characters, the villain? How does the writer develop the characters that drive each story?
I spent so much time on my main characters, that I didn’t have a clue about my villain, the anti-hero, or other supporting characters.
To me, these characters are as important or even more important than the main characters. Why? Because if they aren’t believable, chances are your main characters won’t come across as believable, either. You can’t skimp on these people! It’s like a chess game. All the pieces must be used strategically in order to reach the end goal.
So, I did more research, studied movies of the era, started to form a visual of who I wanted these characters to be.
I chose a birthday, looked up the zodiac signs for characteristics that would fit, good and bad. While I was doing this, they emerged out of the mist and found their place in my story.
I am four books into my series and am working on book five. I’ve found throughout the series; one character has elbowed their way to the front of the pack as my favorite character in the whole series. It’s not who you think it is.
SASSY, BRASSY, AND AMBITIOUS
Fanny Zapelli is a force of nature. Sister of the notorious gangster they call ‘The Nose’, she is raised up under his wing and groomed to do his bidding with little contact with the world outside of the mob. She’s a singer at The Blue Feather, wears flashy sequined, fringed costumes to attract the male clientele. But, underneath it all, she wants more, desires independence, and when she meets my main character in the first novel, An Unlikely Arrangement, she sees her chance.
Throughout the series, Fanny refuses to go away. Her character screams to be noticed, to be taken seriously, and I do! We also watch her evolve from a mob moll to a business woman. Even though, she doesn’t know how to integrate into the high society she desires, she doesn’t quit, never gives up.
Fanny has emerged as my favorite character in this series. At the end of An Unlikely Deception, Fanny is present at the train station ready to share her plan with Hattie and Cal, but is too late. The train fades into the distance.
Fanny will tell her story in Book Five.
Research your characters, build them carefully, breathe life into them, and they will stay with you forever.
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