Inexperienced Evil: “Will the Real Bad Guy Please Stand Up?”

canstockphoto18799595Hey JC,

I read your post about Seven Archetypes to Create a ViIlain and I want to ask you a question.

One of my antagonists is not quite out there evil, unlike a lot of antagonists in books where you know right off they’re evil (e.g. Cruella de Vil. Darth Vader. Hannibal Lector. It was obvious that they were evil from the very beginning) but I want the reader to think, “I don’t know what it is, however I don’t quite trust her”.

Any suggestions on how to write such a character?

Just to give an example of what I’m talking about, if anyone saw the original Friday The 13th, when you first see Mrs. Voorhees she does not seem like an antagonist until she talks about her son, Jason.

Inexperienced Evil

Dear Inexperienced,

What genre are you writing? I’m guessing it’s more in the suspense-thriller category rather than a mystery. Either way, the best villains are those who think they’re the hero. They believe their cause is just, and maybe in the beginning of the story it is. However, as the plot moves forward, the villain continues to take his actions to the next level and loses sight of who he is hurting in the pursuit of his goal.

I’d start with the Protagonist and Antagonist possibly being on the same side, maybe even being friends. As the plot forces the two apart, the Antagonist will take a stronger, more aggressive approach to the situation. This approach will conflict with the Protagonist’s principals and ideals, creating conflict. I read a story once about two environmentalists who were trying to protect a forest from loggers.

In a mystery, the Antagonist’s identity is a secret until the very end. Several genuine clues will be dropped here and there that a perceptive reader may pick-up. Referring to your example, the original Friday the 13th was a mystery to some degree, in that the audience thought Jason was committing the murders. The mother explains that he drowned, giving the audience the impression the teens were being pursued by his ghost. Then in the end it is revealed that the mother was actually dressing up as her son and killing the teens. That type of story requires a red herring (who the reader/audience believes is the killer) and a hidden murderer revealed in the end of the book..

Good luck and keep writing.



Got a question for me? Hit the contact button at the top and send me an email. Or do you disagree with my advice? Let me know in the comments. How would you respond to Inexperienced Evil’s problem?

Knowledge is Power: GoodReads for Authors

Goodreads-For-Authors-How-To-Use-Goodreads-To-Promote-Your-BooksWith the job of marketing falling square on the author’s shoulders nowadays, it seems like most of us are spending more time peddling our books and less time writing new ones. That’s why Good Reads is such an important tool.

Michelle Campbell Scott’s Goodreads For Authors: How To Use Goodreads To Promote Your Books is a comprehensive guide to the social networking site. The book is clear, concise and easy to read. It’s got a logical order that’s invaluable to beginners, giving a soup to nuts crash course to get you up and running. Intermediate users will find a wealth of details that will raise your understanding to the next level. And, the end of chapter summaries will allow the no-time-to-read browser a quick study and immediate answers.

I’d been poking around on Goodreads for about  year, and was somewhat familiar with the website. Yet I didn’t yet understand how best to use groups or giveaways to promote my books. There were a lot of features that I was completely unaware even existed. The book walks you through everything from signup to reviews to widgets in meticulous detail. I spent a couple of weeks studying this book—not because of any problem with the content, but because I kept jumping over to Goodreads to implement the book’s suggestions. To cap it all off, there’s an outline on how to accomplish and prioritize these tasks, which can seem overwhelming if viewed all at once.

This is a must have for any author serious about taking his or her career to the next level.

Build Your Author Platform: “100 Small Fires To Make Your Book Sales BLAZE!”

100smallfireswithflamecover23One can learn a lot from this book. On the other hand, one can read a few chapters and say – “I knew all that already!”

The second was my original reaction after I’ve read the opening paragraphs. There are literally hundreds of “How-To” books for self-publishing on Amazon alone so, if you’ve read a few of them, you most likely already know some of the material included. Not to mention that some of the books cover the basic topics in much more detail.

However, as I kept reading, I realized that this book is not actually written by a typical writer. This is more of the “Ideas on how to increase sales of your book from a point of view of a professional marketer.”

Just a couple of examples – “Gamification” and “Antic Advertisement”, that are described in some detail in this book, are probably worth a price of admission here by themselves. The chapters on “Creating a marketing plan” for different budgets is also a dead giveaway that this book was written by a marketing pro.

This is like an “All-you can eat” buffet where the authors can pick and choose what strategies might work the best for them. Sometimes it’s not that difficult – a good friend of mine, a philosopher, translator of ancient texts, and a writer of a considerable talent, just emailed me today that one of his books became a “Bestseller” in its category. He concentrated on the basics – cover, description, editing, and submitted his book for reviews. He sounded somewhat surprised when he told me how many copies of his book he sells a day now.

But it’s not really a surprise. One needs to pick a strategy, persist in it, and with a bit of luck it is possible to move some units.

However, if that is a no go for you, this book might have some ideas not usually found in other “How-To’s” for authors. If you already read some of the more mainstream books on the topic and are looking for a fresh perspective, this book just might be it.

— Oleg Medvedkov (Sacremento, CA)

Build your Author Platform: Kindle Marketing Gold

51UD+rFB6dL._SL500_AA300_PIaudible,BottomRight,13,73_AA300_If you’re building an author platform, Kindle Marketing Gold: 5 Keys to Boost Your eBook Sales is a great book to read. It covers all the basics: Facebook, Twitter, review sites, book trailers, press releases, writing a blog, and Amazon categories and keywords.

This is a book for beginners, though. It goes over the basics, and it’s primary theme is: If you’re serious about becoming a serious author, you need to put theses five keys in place. It gives tips on getting started, and could benefit from a few visuals and real world examples. I also wish that it had introduced Good Reads. However, it succeeds in telling you what you need to do to start building your author platform.

To further develop any of these keys, you’ll have to find books that really delve into each specific subject.



Build Your Author Platform: “How I made $42,000 in 1 month selling my Kindle ebooks”

How-I-Made-Over-42k-Selling-My-Kindle-Books-by-Cheryl-Kaye-Tardif-200x300I downloaded this book over a year and a half ago, and not because I thought I’d really make $42,000 in one month. I was looking for direction on how to establish an author platform.

Since I was familiar with mystery author Cheryl Tardif I started with her book, How I Made Over $42,000 in 1 Month. There’s good advice here for launching an author platform. She touches on maintaining a blog, using Twitter and setting up a Facebook author page. However, the focus of the book is on Amazon’s KDP Select. She describes her experiences and successes with the system. The books excels at explaining how the program works and understanding how to utilize it.

Unfortunately, this is an established author with a following describing her experiences. I appreciate the candor that Tardif puts forth, describing her sales as “modest” until she used KDP Select back in 2012. Today, things have changed on Amazon. I wouldn’t expect authors just starting out to experience the same results.

I still believe it’s a great starting point though. And I also believe it would be worth a reread some 18 months later, as I’ve implemented many of the suggestions in her book. With some experience under my belt, I’ll probably discover some tips that went over my head when I was just starting out.