Optimism is NOT Arrogance

Arrogance is the belief that you are BETTER than others. Optimism is the belief that you have the same CHANCE as others. We all have the chance to achieve our dreams. Don't ever let anyone tell you differently.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So...The Bad Guy

Again...now see, for those who have been following me, you may have heard me talk about the antagonist and how to balance making him too evil versus making him somewhat relatable.  It seems that's a little different for middle grade books, which is the genre I'm writing for.

In my book, the bad guy, towards the end, wants the children following him dead.  Just flat out, dead.  He's even willing to shoot one (and does, in the leg) to get what he wants.

Too violent, my agent says.

And she's probably right - and here's why.  When your antagonist is an alien, a monster, a wizard or any other kind of fantastic creature, they can be as bad as you need them to be.  Why?  Because they're NOT REAL.

My bad guy is a human guy.  A regular guy.  A professor.  So if he's really really bad, that could be TOO realistic and scary.  See, the fantasy realm, especially for middle grade and YA, allows the bad guys to have no morals, to be truly evil, because they're not real people.  But to have a real person display those characteristics to modern day eleven year-old boys, well, that's just a little close to home.

So, instead of wanting them to die, and shooting the one in the leg, my agent suggested the shot be accidental (which is fine because I make that into a suspenseful but still funny scene) and later on to leave them tied to a tree so that they'll be arrested as spies, rather than killed in the war.

Subtle differences, neither of which I think diminishes the bad guy's bad-guyness, but not so harsh as to make teachers and parents gasp when they read it to their class or their kids so them what they're reading.

Tomorrow I'll talk about the subplot changes...that's gonna be tricky...


  1. Interesting take on MG antagonists. I think she's probably right, though. I have a MG project that's on hold...I'll have to come back to all your notes when I work on it again. The YA project I'm working on now, though, has a truly evil (and I mean EEEEEEVILLLLL) antagonist. He kills people. Shoot. Hope I didn't give too much away.

  2. Yeah, after reviewing the potential changes it will actually add to the humor between the two protagonists. As for YA - if your bad guy isn't REALLLLLY evil, I mean so bad you would say they are the FUI-ITS of the DEV-EEL, it's probably not a YA book. Man, they're really going all out with the baddies in that genre, aren't they?


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