First, a sad little announcement—I might not be able to keep up with my twice-a-week blogging schedule in the coming few months, due to some unforeseen events, such as the brain surgery my pet cockroach performed on himself, and which turned him into an evil mastermind out for world domination. Thus I’m regretfully announcing I will probably only find the time & energy to post once a week, which unfortunately also means I won’t be able to join my beloved A to Z challenge in April this year.
*chorus of heartbroken, wailing virgins crying in the background*
But even though taking some time out to get my rampant minions in line and restore order to the galaxy is really tempting, I will not just stick my hands in my pockets and forsake you. I’ve sworn an oath (I think…) and I will always keep this blog alive in the mighty spirit of Cthulhu. I mean the mighty spirit of fiction. I live and breathe fiction. 🙂
So. Where was I?
I love a good villain, especially when he’s as well rounded as the protagonist. It gives me a special, almost perverse kind of satisfaction to follow him through the story and get exclusive glimpses into his evil plans. It’s so delicious, knowing beforehand what he’s got in store for my dear protagonist, or even knowing to what lengths the villain is willing to know, thus understanding how deeply screwed the protagonist really is.
But what happens after the climax? Does he live or die?
What do you do with your villains in your stories? Do you kill them off in a grand finale, so your protagonist can emerge the victor? Or do you just teach them a lesson and plunge them into their own version of post-defeat hell? Or maybe… neither. Maybe you transform them, convert them to ethics and morals and goodness. Do you allow them to redeem themselves?
We’ve probably all encountered all of these versions and more. And I’m sure most of you have tried more than one way to end the conflict between protagonist and antagonist. But regardless of the many awesome techniques to bring a conflict to its satisfactory conclusion, we all have our favorites.
My favorite ending for a villain is the demise of his own making (any form of death: physical, psychological, social, whatever). Demise of his own making, meaning that all of his actions to thwart the protagonist have built this phenomenal construction that only becomes apparent toward the end of the story, and that requires one last action—an action performed at the climax, by the unknowing protagonist who tries to bring her own arc of growth to a satisfactory conclusion—to turn it all into the villain’s tomb. Demise of his own making, not of the protagonist’s making. Not a linear fight-to-the-death kind of story, but a puzzle.
I love this ending the most. It’s mind-wreckingly hard to construct, but it’s very much worth it.
What do you do with your villains at the end? Do you kill them off (if so, how) or do you let them live (if so, why)?
Which kind of ending have you enjoyed most reading?
I’d love to hear your thoughts! My thought-stealing nanobots are still in their design phase, so you gotta tell me the old fashion way.
*pries Mastermind Cockroach away from the miniature 3D printer*
Brian, I told you, no weapon printing in my house, okay? Now go think about what you did.
*flicks him back into his corner*