Post-Nano and Worldbuilding: Out of Context Villains

Part of what’s making Seeds of Blood a bit sticky to pull off is,  I’m trying to do a smart bad guy. And that means said Bad Guy has to have an intelligent plan. Which he does – in part by bringing in cat’s-paws that local good guys have no idea how to face off with.

(Well, most of the good guys don’t. But there is the Internet….)

In short, the Bad Guy brings in an Out of Context Villain. This is a horrible thing for our heroes.

The real trick is not having it be a horrible thing to the reader, too.

You have to play fair with readers. You have to. If there’s a zombie outbreak in chapter three, there damn well better be rumors of weird plagues or curses or something in chapter one. And if there’s an out of context villain….

Well. It may well be a surprise to your heroes, but your readers need to get to see it coming.

So as I’m writing this rough, I’m trying to also make a lot of notes, because there’s going to be a heck of a lot of rewriting. So that all the Weird that turns up by the final battle is at least hinted at beforehand!

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16 thoughts on “Post-Nano and Worldbuilding: Out of Context Villains

  1. My version of an out-of-context villain is having a Wendigo/Valkyrie show up and behead the lizard-looking thing about to eat the hero and then steal the thing the hero was trying to get. Respect to you for trying to write an intelligent bad guy. *Salutes!*

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      1. Indeed, ’tis a fearsome mix. ;D Glad to hear my creation ranks up there with the zombies in terms of scariness! I wish you the best of luck on your writing!

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  2. Intelligent bad guys are trickier to write, especially if you don’t want them to go into God Mode. They are also trickier for the heroes to fight because they do stuff like throw the heroes a ringer. And don’t make the same kind of mistakes as the stupid bad guys.

    Through sometimes it is their intelligence that trips them up. Because intelligent bad guys forget that simple doesn’t mean stupid or complex plans aren’t always better plans.

    It’s also a tricky balancing act to both play fair with the reader without giving away the bad guy’s surprise.

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  3. Given how long some of the good guys have been around I’m thinking the bad guy must have spent a while doing some research into “where would this person have plausibly been at this point in history” in order to find his Out of Context help. Or maybe not “plausibly” and more like “possibly”… Myrrh seems like the kind of person to go check out rumors of bad guys in non-plausible locations if simply to get information on what to do the next time another of the same type of bad guy turns up again…

    Dropping hints is one of those things that I pick up on really easily and so sometimes I find authors to be a little too transparent for my liking. Although that might have to do with me being fully aware of The Law of Conservation of Detail and therefore usually cataloging lots of details as being potential weapons in the Chekhov’s Gun Depot. I’ve noticed that works that included lots of world-building are better at dropping hints without it being too obvious as I don’t stop and wonder why the author included a detail when their usual writing style doesn’t make use of them all that often.

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  4. If it’s the guy from the first one, I thought the scenes where you got to hear them plotting– but not have them doing the Villain Speech thing– was effective.

    Plus I love where you get a hint, but it may not make sense until the guy actually SHOWS UP!

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  5. Or you can do what some authors do and write from your villain’s perspective. I think the way I like this best is the way Timothy Zahn does it- his schtick is the Smart Imperial, and it’s a good way to flesh out antagonists that aren’t Chaotic Evil. So both sides have some -but not all!- of the necessary puzzle pieces.

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  6. If you want an example of a really good Out of Context (Solution) in professional and well known authors, look no further then David Weber’s Out of the Dark. I haven’t gotten around to reading all of it yet, but my dad did and I got to hear all about it. Given the fact that Weber is a well known science fiction author, the vampiric solution caught him by surprise and was initially thought to be a total Dues ex Machina by him. Then he started laying out clues, and he gave me a a strange look when I started laughing at the first one. He hadn’t even told me the conclusion of the book and I got vampires from the first clue, which was the main characters need to head to Transylvania.

    …He was sort of torn in how to take that I think.

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  7. Good book! (spoiler is on the us library genre in the first page of the book!) I was Evil Laughing at the revealing! I’m the wrong gender for witch cackling(can’t even spell it correctly)

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