)4. Insanity Is Overrated

Mostly a writer will use 'insanity' as a shorthand way of saying he doesn't know what makes the villain tick. Avoid this particular shortcut at all costs.

There are a lot of 'insane' villains out there, but you can count the good ones on the fingers of one hand.

Insanity should not be 'avoided'. It should be researched. In fact, all characters need to be researched on some level. I dislike the use of blanket warnings, Elliot which is why I'm responding to your message. I understand your point but I think there is a more important message regarding 'shortcuts'. Beginners to the craft do not always do their homework and I can't stress the importance of a well-researched character (or plotline). Therefore, if your character's motivations stem from a personality disorder, that disorder should be researched and understood by the author. A poorly researched character is (IMHO) akin to fingernails screeching down a blackboard. *shivers*

Faralas <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/mage.gif" alt="" />


My Guide began really as a fanfic guide for writing about US comic characters, where 'Insanity' in used as a general excuse far too often and with no thought whatsoever, so I thought a blanket 'Do Not Use' was best. There are far too many poorly thought out comic villains as is <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

In general I would say that while it is less true for other writers, even a well-researched form of insanity is still in some ways a means of excusing the villain for their actions, or at the least making those actions more palatable to the reader.

After all, the reader can give a sigh of relief and tell themselves, "Great! He's insane! Normal people wouldn't do that!"

The truth is 'normal people' are guilty of some truly horrendous things, and any get out for the reader is in a sense a way of reducing the evil of the villain.

Sure, many forms of insanity can come across well and create a very chilling read - but the best villains are those who truly believe they are acting for the noblest motives, and will justify any atrocity because their goal is more important to them than the means used to get there.

They are the best because - with one tiny mental slip - they could be any of us... Our friends, our neighbours, even ourselves... Now that is scary <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

I may not have explained it well, Faralas, but I did think about it <img src="/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" />

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