Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Winter Break Update

Pretty much.

Right peeps, so here's an update on basically the past few months. I'm nearly done with finals. I'll be going home for Christmas break, before I start the madness all over again next semester. Here's a list of writing projects I've made progress on:

1. Finished Negation. In the middle of editing it. A couple of peer editors would be nice if I have any volunteers out there.

2. Started Evolution, the final book in my Subversion Trilogy. I hope to have it finished by next fall semester, and perhaps by then, I can get a few edits from professionals and perhaps start publishing.

3. Finished the first 13-part sequence of the Ghost Rebellion short story series. I'm planning on continuing that with at least two more 13-part sequences. If you'd like to read what I already have, just ask.

4. Got onto Figment! Figment is a website for aspiring writers. As with all self-publishing websites, it suffers from the curse of amateur writers putting up not-so-pretty work, but of the self-publishing websites out there, it's one of the better ones. I've written up a few stories solely for Figment and posted them, along with stories I've previously written. If any of you are interested, google Figment and then search Striate Straknum once you're on the site. You'll find me.

5. Began my first foray into creating a story in an illustrated format! It's going to be a very short little manga western that spans no more than eight pages. It's like flash fiction for manga. Currently I'm working on the fourth page, and I hope to have it finished by the end of next semester. Here's one of the pages from what I have so far.

And that's me. Funny thing about being a full time college student: it actually does take up your time, which is why I've posted far less instructionals than I did last year. Maybe I'll have the time to churn out something over Christmas break.

Ah, who am I kidding. See you peeps later.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Battlecry of Hygiene

Some of you may be unaware of my living situation at present. To sum up, I feel like I'm living in a slum in India, and my efforts to make the apartment into a civilized place with basic hygiene have been foiled by a brainlessly persisting duo we shall refer to only as 'the J-Team', who lack any sense of clean living. As a result, depending on how things turn out over the next few days, I may be moving to a different apartment. Before I go, I would like to post a monologue/lament that I wrote for the only roommate capable of enforcing some degree of cleanliness in our apartment. He has departed our apartment, where to I know not, only that it was the rising tide of filth that likely drove him out. So without further ado, I present 'Lament For Javan/Call to Defend Basic Hygiene'.

Please imagine me dressed in a toga giving this address at the Acropolis in front of legions Roman soldiers. Got that image in your mind? Great. Let's go.

"No, Javan. Why did you have to leave? We needed you the way a steaming apple pie needs a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Without you, disarray is beginning to take over again. The horrors are once more beginning; the odor of foul things spreads once more through the apartment, forcing all but those responsible to the rooms wherein they, the innocent, remain besieged by olfactory offense. And the perpetrators wander the halls guiltlessly, tormenting the rest of us with their absent hygiene. Foul things spring once again from the buried kitchen sink, while a vain war is being fought against the bugs of litter entrenched in the living room. Oh Javan, glorious champion of civilized living! Finals are swift approaching, but to study amid this degenerate debacle is an abomination! Why did you leave us in this our time of greatest need?

These impassioned cries cannot bring you back, gone as you are from us. I weep for your absence, and bemoan the fact that I have not your great girth to intimidate the putrid defilers into compliance. But I cannot permit our fragile gains to be lost, cannot allow our apartment to slide back into the degeneracy of days past. You left us a legacy of what a civilized dwelling place should look like, and I will not allow that to be sullied.

To arms, Daniel! Arise, Naoki! Raise the banner of hygiene on high. Summon the vacuum forth from its ancient resting place; bring forth the sacred twin reliquaries, Broom and Dustpan! Send emissaries to Wal-mart, send messengers to Febreze and call their aerosol-propelled combatants to our cause! An evil relentless in perseverance and odious in nature rises from the dungeon we consigned it to in ages past. The one who guarded the gate with an air freshener in each hand is gone now, passed on to greener and cleaner pastures, and a scourge of pestilential proportions now roams unchecked through the halls of our apartment. Arise, children of cleanliness! Remember the name of Javan, bear up the standard of hygiene, and beat back the filthy miasma that seeks to claim our apartment!"

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Fall Agenda

Aight. So Sparkfly's been off the radar for a few months. Well, I'm a college student juggling 17 credit hours, two blogs, a book, two term projects, neverending papers, 4 hours of reading every night, crappy roommates, and crappy wifi. The list could go on, but I'll keep it to that. Even as I write, I'm avoiding assignments I'm supposed to be doing.

Dr. Ryski Katnei, aka Kat, member of the Collective.

This is a character from a trilogy of books I'm writing (I'm on the second of three and I'm currently getting the first peer edited by as many are willing to edit it). I think a number of my future posts are going to be on the things I've had to do to write these books, basically the form I use and the way I've had to reinvent the way I look at books and the way stories and characters are written. So there's that.

Also, I've heard a number of good things about a series of short stories I'm writing under the series title of Ghost Rebellion. The Management has recommended that I list them on Amazon as ebooks for $.99 each and it sounds like a good idea to get my work out there. So if there are any recommendations on publishing, it'd be nice to get those in the comments.

Alright. That's my agenda for the fall. Gotta go write papers now. Ciao!

Friday, September 7, 2012

Rules of Resurrection

Resurrection! There are rules for resurrecting characters, you know. You can't just fling around resurrection powers carelessly. Depending on the genre you're writing for, the rules of resurrection vary.

Science Fiction - Dead? Not A Problem

In science fiction, characters are allowed to physically die. Also, depending on the type of technology in the book, their dead bodies may also suffer varying degrees of damage, from superficial (burns, lacerations, limb detachment) to severe (total disintegration or erasure from the time-space continuum). Our two examples for the science fiction genre come from Fringe, my favorite sci-fi show for the past four years.

Fringe is amazing. Never let anyone tell you otherwise.

Olivia Dunham, the main protagonist, gets killed in the season finale of Fringe's fourth season. But due to childhood exposure to Cortexiphan, and more recent doses of the same drug, you can just pop that bullet out of her head and wait for it to seal up because of Cortexiphan's regenerative properties. That's our favorite little FBI agent, always cheating death!

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Complete erasure from the time-space continuum? Psh. Whatever. Ain't stopping me from coming back.

Peter Bishop, the second of Fringe's three main protagonists, was wiped from the time-space continuum at the end of the third season in his effort to join the two universes and prevent the two sides from destroying each other. But we all know that you can't just get rid of one of the show's main characters, so Peter eventually resurfaced in the new timeline that he was erased from. We're not entirely sure how, but we think it had something to do with love and the Olivia's Cortexiphan dosing. According to September. Go figure.

Fantasy Fiction - He's Only Halfway Dead

In fantasy fiction, characters may also die, but with less frequency than science fiction. If a character should die and be revived in fantasy fiction, necromancy, magic, light magic, or godly interventions are all permissible. The power of love, without any technical explanation whatsoever, is also allowed.

I was at a loss for movies or fantasy books that had such resurrections, so I just looked through my movie library till I came across Tangled. I love that movie, and it sums up fantasy fiction resurrections so well.

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Happily ever after!

As it happens, we can mostly agree that Flynn's healing was a combination of both love and magic, a beautiful combination, if there ever was one. However, should you need other examples of resurrection in fantasy fiction, I would direct you to The Princess Bride, the more recent ABC TV show Once Upon A Time, or Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke.

Any Other Fiction Not Involving Supernatural or Scientific Elements/Themes

Any resurrections outside of those two genres generally involves the characters feigning death. Of course, there are exceptions; a dead character's body may be possessed by some spirit or another and the character is technically 'resurrected' or in the case of steampunk literature, a character could be brought back to life after they patch up the character's wounds and then jolt him back to life Frankenstein-style. But even those are variants of science fiction and fantasy genres. In the end, resurrecting a character goes one of three ways:

1. They're dead and we brought them back with science. (Science Fiction)

2. They're dead and we brought them back through supernatural means. (Fantasy)

3. They weren't really dead in the first place; they were just faking it. (Everything other genre outside of Science Fiction and Fantasy)

So. There's your rules of resurrection. As someone once famously said, write a romance! Kill all the characters. And then bring them back to life with these rules!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Why We Need Editors

As I would anticipate many of you know, I help maintain the Mage Knights story blog, which link you can find above right next to the Home button. Silver and I draw great enjoyment from maintaining Mage Knights, but on the odd occasion, our writing expertise fails us. Which is why we have readers to correct us, and our unofficial copyeditor Josh to set us straight at times.

The following is a fine example of why every writer needs a copy editor.

On Jun 14, 2012, at 9:54 AM, Joshua wrote:


Of what were you thinking when you actually decided to put a interrogative's preposition at the beginning of the phrase? I mean, I know that "what are you thinking of" or the more colloquial "what are you thinking about" are forbidden by highschool english teachers but, let's be honest, we all know that the rule about not ending sentences with prepositions was made up by John Dryden in 1672.  (He did, by the way, give no explanation or defense of this rule.)  I appreciate Myrrdin's attempt to sound more archaic by avoiding colloquialisms, but with all due respect, fronting prepositions is not and never has been a real rule.  So, i respectfully suggest that you replace the phrase with "What are you thinking of/about" or even with the alternatives such as "What's on your mind" or "what are you pondering?"
Having read your story at 8ish in the morning,

On Jun 14, 2012, at 11:02 AM, Emil wrote:

I appreciate your attention to linguistic detail, Josh, and normally I would defer to your expertise. However, seeing as I, as a generally knowledgeable writer, was not aware of that rule, and that it was apparently made up without reason, and that most readers will not care one way or another aside from the fact that it sounds like Yodaspeak, I will claim creative license to trample the aforementioned rule into the dust in the name of preserving the archiac feel and integrity of the Mage Knights universe. I do, however, appreciate you pointing this out to me, and would pray that you continue to show such extensive expertise far into the future of the blog.

Having eaten Raisin Bran at 8ish your time,


The world of writing rules is a hazy one, especially nowadays in the internet age. Copy editors are needed more than ever to render corrections on a world rife with incorrections. People like Josh keep the world from degrading into an amalgam of unintelligible gibberish and general nonsense; without them, our communications, articles, and novels would be more a trial than a joy to read. So today's post goes out to editors: thank you for the work you do.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Thoughts On War In the Real World

Memorial Day was yesterday. I spent it working, but I did some thinking.

I am not necessarily an isolationist so much as I am anti-war. I have an opposition to just about every war that is waged, and my personal view is that if you must go to war, you take the war and all its fury right to the root of the conflict. In most wars that America wages, the root of the conflict is usually the oppressor or dictator. For my Mormon readers, I would direct you to the first book of Nephi, when Nephi killed Laban. It was better that one man should die than the entire nation fall into sin under his example. Likewise, I would postulate that by finishing a war at the start, most likely through the assassination of the oppressor or dictator in question, a great many lives would be saved from torment and eventual death in a drawn-out campaign.

War has a debilitating and blinding effect on those who are waging it: each side views the other as 'the bad guys'. The citizens of a nation tend to view the opposing nation itself as the enemy. The fact that the 'enemy' is just like us escapes us during wartime; it is a subconscious, psychological armor we don to prevent us from feeling empathy for the suffering of the other side. We never speak of how their mothers cook dinners for their children, how their families send their sons and brothers off to war, and we never attend the funerals of every soldier slain by our side. I can assure you that with America's level of technological advances, every nation pitted against us will bury more soldiers than we will ever have to.

As far as history goes, war is necessary. The suffering caused by war promotes philosophical growth, and the fear that results from vulnerability provides the motivation for technological innovation. If it were not so, we would not be where we are now. Much of our technology and philosophical learnings nowadays are drawn from the years of war.

As a pastime, war games are entertaining. I am a great fan of strategy and conquering, as my siblings will tell you should you ask them to play a game of Risk or chess. In writing, war can be controlled. You can determine which elements to show your reader, whether or not you will portray it realistically, and decide whether or not you will humanize the forces opposing your protagonist. War, in novels, can be neat and tidy if you so desire it, and most writers do desire it that way.

But in reality, war is a thing no sane person would engage in. It takes a tremendous toll on economy and on the generations required to participate. War, in every sense, is a void; the void of the dead missing among the living; the void of a grave accepting a casket; a void into which resources, both human and economic, are poured, in the hope of forcing change or ideology on others. As to the justification for war, nothing short of self-defense against a life-threatening attack warrants going to war. Yet even this can be taken too far; the Iraq War, a fool's war if there ever was one, was a war fought over something that was not there.

This morning I wrote a poem while reflecting on the futility of war. It states, in not more than three lines, that war has been since the days of kings, and in spite of our technological and philosophical advances, will continue to be. In all of our human history, two things never change: love and war.

The rich pay the poor to fight their war,
And the widows weep while the children sleep,
Forever dreaming of a better tomorrow. . .

A tomorrow, I may add, that never seems to come. To close today's post, I leave you all with an excerpt from Heartless, a book I'm writing and will hopefully find time to finish.

M looked down. "I can't afford to let myself into battle, Bella. My power isn't something to bandy around."

Bella took him at his word and continued to watch the soldiers below. After a moment, Bella turned back to M. "M? How does soldiers killing each other fix the world's problems?"

Ayae stopped editing verse in her head and looked down at M. "That's a good question." she said, asking for an answer without saying as much. M, looking at Bella, was at a loss for an answer.

M blinked and looked away, to the horizon. Why was it that children always had the most difficult questions?

Monday, May 21, 2012

Make War, Not Love!

Star Wars memes!

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So this post's topic is on conflict. Very important! Conflict is what drives a story and hopefully carries it through to its conclusion. Every story contains conflict, and necessarily so. Nobody likes reading a story about how everything goes perfectly and is just fine.

There are several types of conflict that can drive a story, but what is most essential is that there is always a conflict. In this post, I'll detail for you some of the different kinds of conflict seen in stories.

1. Good vs. Evil

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Yeah, I think it's going to be a Star Wars post.

Good vs. evil is, as mentioned a couple of posts back, is the most common conflict seen in most known stories. It's the form of story that everyone likes to read: good, moral people struggling against powerful bad guys seeking power, world domination, whatever. The theme of good vs. evil is popular and often used because it's simple; readers can easily invest in the characters, and with the bad guy, they can often keep him/her at a comfortable arm's distance and assign him the vague evil aura.*

*I make these statements assuming that the writer's skill is such that he can draw empathy with his audience.

Books like Harry Potter and movies like Star Wars make the distinction between good and evil very clear. In Star Wars, the Sith were seeking galactic domination (surprise, surprise). In Harry Potter, Voldemort's like the Hitler of the magical world, with his supremacist ideology and devout followers. 

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2. I Really, Really Want Something

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Inception. Best movie in existence. No really, it is.

When it's not a matter of good vs. evil, it's a matter of someone really wanting something that's hard to get. This is the case with Inception, where there isn't precisely good vs. evil, but rather the main character vs things getting in the way of what he wants.

Inception was an excellent movie, which considering the popularity of stories without a good-evil conflict, is saying something. It was excellent because it had a premise that wasn't so far removed from reality, it addressed concepts and ideas that a lot of people were familiar with (dream within a dream, waking with the sensation of falling), and had characters that were real and believable. All of this created a story that could suspend our disbelief quite well. And then there's the fact that Inception accomplished what few movies nowadays can accomplish - it brought a truly original premise to the silver screen and set fire to the imaginations of the masses.

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But I've gotten sidetracked. To wrap up, Inception was an awesome movie without the stereotypical good vs evil theme. It was awesome because the conflict was something that others could connect to, and it was strong and encompassing enough to drive the action and link the different story threads of the disparate characters together.

3. Do It For Love!

Love, the great motivator!

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. . .let the Twilight bashing begin.

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Actually, I might just use memes for this section of the post. Here's my favorite romance novel method:

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For those of us that watch The Office:

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And finally, this is how I have, and probably will for the rest of eternity, spend my Valentine's Days:

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I'm such a killjoy when it comes to love. Now for the promised Twilight bashing.

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And fact:

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That being said, I leave you all to your Mondays. May the meme be with you.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Location, Location

Alright, I've been busy these last few months with college, and I've neglected my writing blog. If any of you were hinging your budding writing careers on that, I'm sorry. However, school was the higher priority. Now that it's summer and I'm looking for a job, I have a lot more time on my hands, and it's back to blogging. If you have any suggestions for subjects I should cover in the summer, let me know in the comments below.

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It is the scene where your story takes place, a montage of locations and areas into which the characters venture at least once. Setting is the world of the story, the fabric through which the characters sift in search of their goals. As one of the basic elements of writing, setting is vitally important to any story.

It may surprise you, but there's a lot to setting. There are certain components that always crop up in novels, constants that are vital to the story. We'll run through a list of the basics that make up the setting in a novel, and how they affect the story.

1. There's No Place Like Home

In most stories, there's a certain place that the main cast of characters call home, a place they always return to. It can be an actual home, a base, a headquarters, a ship they're traveling on, but whatever it is, it's the thing they always return to. They have emotional and physical ties to the place, so they always go back there.

One example of the home area of a setting can be found in Fablehaven, where the grandparents' house is the area that the main characters frequently return to, and spend a lot of time there. In dangerous situations, the house is a safe place (at least in the first three books; I think the place gets thrashed a few times in the later books) that the characters can go to and find refuge. It also serves a prep and launch pad into more dangerous areas of the story.

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The Atlantean ship Destiny from Stargate Universe. (It's a wee bit bigger than it looks, trust me)

Another example of the home area can be found in sci-fi shows like Stargate Universe and pretty much all of the canonical Star Trek series. In these shows, the home area is the ship the cast is traveling on. This setup is unique because it allows the cast and characters to go looking for trouble without leaving the safety of their home areas. The audience naturally gets familiar with the ship itself, since the characters' day to day interactions take place in them. And in an area like this, characters that would normally avoid each other in real life are forced to interact with each other, since you can only get so far from a person on a ship traveling through space.

2. "One Does Not Simply Walk Into Mordor"

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Don't ask me how long I spent looking for this.

In most stories, you also have, for lack of a better term, 'Mordor places': the region where the bad guy/bad guys call home or headquarters or whatever. Because, let's face it, even bad guys get the longing for home every now and then. 

Mordor places are generally places one simply cannot walk into (unless, of course, you are the bad guy). They're filled with booby traps and ferocious beasts and the mounted heads of heroes that were defeated by the bad guy. There's also this perception that all sorts of dark, mysterious secrets abound in a villain's evil lair. Whether or not these perceptions are true is irrelevant, since the purpose of Mordor places is to present a challenge to the heroes and offer them an environment that isn't cozy and warm. Mordor places also make for a nice change of scene.

3. Detail

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Consider this description:

There were several items on the table, not the least of which was a bowl of fruit, and for some reason, Christmas ribbon stored in a mason jar. Sunlight streaked through the window, falling across a worn spray bottle on the edge of the table; a placemat hung limply over the corner of the table, a set of retainers and a glass keeping it from slipping all the way off. 

The same paragraph, without description:

There were several items on the table: a bowl of fruit, a mason jar, a spray bottle, retainers, a placemat, a glass. Sun was coming through the window.

I get daily prompts from a writing website, and today's advice was that when you write a setting, you could almost imagine it as a person. Settings, after all, do have personalities, and often reflect the people that inhabit them. Mordor obviously reflects Sauron and evil in general; it's a wasteland of blackened rock and poisonous air. Lothlorien had an enchanting and mysterious air because it was home to the elves. The Shire was pleasant and lively because it was an idyllic place with people far removed from the reality of war and darkness.

So all told, setting is important. Nuffsaid.

And your weekly dose of Twilight-bashing. . .

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I never got what the deal was with Naruto, but I guess killing rogue ninjas is cool. I'd definitely stick with anime over Twilight (unless it was Twilight anime).

Additionally, I would like to add that I'm cowriting a fantasy story blog with a fellow blogger of mine named Silver Sico (Silversico? silversico? silverSico? It's some combination of silver and sico). Feel free to check it out; it updates every Monday and Thursday. The website address is below: 

UPDATE: I stand corrected. They have Twilight anime. Take me now, Lord. This sphere has grown too cruel.

Monday, January 16, 2012

A General Guide To Creating A Good Villain

Okay, so we have the main character and his buddies, and we have the relationships that tie them together. That's good, but the fact remains: we still need a bad guy. Otherwise, you've got nothing.

Someone may ask, 'Well, what's wrong with a story about good people?' The answer is that while we hate having opposition and evil in our own lives, we love reading about it in books. Reading stories about people that have perfect lives isn't entertaining, so if you're looking to draw in an audience, you need a bad guy.

Vader has been one of the most iconic villains in recent history.

1. Welcome to the Dark Side

Okay, you definitely don't hear about it a lot, but villains go back as far as heroes. Ever since Lucifer pulled the first failed coup d'etat, there's been a dark side to fight against the light. 

The narrative of good vs. evil continues with Cain and Abel, with God giving Cain the mother of all groundings after he killed Abel. The entire back and forth of good vs. evil continues throughout the entire Bible, though it's worth pointing out that the biggest problems come from within the Israelite nation itself.

Other religious texts will invariably turn up the same formula: good, in one form or another, fighting against evil. Good vs. evil is so prevalent that it seems ingrained into the human psyche, forming the foundation of all our stories. For as far back as humanity can remember, evil has been part of the equation, to balance out good.

2. What Makes a Villain? Sugar, Spice, A Bad Childhood. . .

In villainous circles, the saying goes, "Villains are made, not born." This is most certainly true if we operate on the principle that everyone is born with the light of Christ (if you're not religious, substitute basic human morality for the 'light of Christ').

Nowhere is this more evident than in Megamind. From his humble beginnings, Megamind's villainy was clearly a case of nurture over nature. Raised in a prison and outshone by his rival, Megamind turned to the only thing he could apparently do well, which was wreak chaos.

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Both Metro Man and Megamind were the sole survivors of their respective species. However, Metro Man landed in a privileged home, while Megamind landed in a prison. The stage was set for their roles in life.

(By now you've probably noticed how much I've referenced this movie. In addition to being a favorite of mine, it demonstrates a wide plethora of story elements, which makes it a great reference source.)

3. "Oh, You're A Villain, Alright. . . Just Not A Super Villain"

Essentially, there is a villain for every hero. In some cases (Batman, the poor guy) there are legions of villains for a hero. As such, we've got a pretty big catalog of villains to draw from. Some are brilliantly evil and charismatic, and have their own fan followings. Others are pathetic, and we can't help but think the writer was running out of ideas. Between those two opposites is the rest of the spectrum, which is pretty broad. So you understand, it takes a lot to stick out in the world of villainy.

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Graaarg! Anybody got the munchies for fear?

Let's begin with the traits of a bad villain. 

What we have above is Parallax, a giant space entity that feeds off fear. Granted, Parallax from the Green Lantern has been given the glossed CGI massive bad guy treatment, but when it comes to it, he's not the best villain. Why? Simple. It took me five minutes to remember he even existed.

The mark of a good villain is their memorability. If you don't remember a villain, it's obviously because that villain didn't make that much of an impression of you. When it comes down to it, the hero is only as good as the villain he's fighting. The recent Green Lantern movie was okay, but it was an extended metaphor for overcoming your fears (plus a small side lesson on the dangers of hubris), and not much more than that.

Normally I wouldn't wax longer than a few paragraphs on one subject, but villains are very important to a story, so I feel obliged add one more example: Iron Monger out of Iron Man (no, it isn't a coincidence that a lot of pathetic bad guys spring from comic-books-turned-movies).

My beef with the first Iron Man movie bad guy is purely a matter of creativity. Who better to fight a hero in a super-powered suit. . . than a bigger man, in the bigger super-powered suit ripped off of the hero's original design?


The second Iron Man movie had a chance to rectify this mistake of repetitious plot element, and to some degree, it did. The movie introduced a couple of non-suit characters, though the screenwriters couldn't help throwing in a small army of super-powered suits, this time purely mechanical, led by a guy in a. . . jacked up, super-powerful suit. Sound familiar? Yeah, thought so. . . at any rate, you can mark up a bad movie to the fact that it's setting up for another bad movie - this one involving more superheroes and superficially sensible plot lines.

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Next up? Christopher Nolan's Joker.

This particular incarnation of the Joker is classified as a true super villain. The beauty of the character is that he has no superpowers. Aside from carrying a truly excessive number of knives, he has no other defining characteristic aside from his ability to create arbitrary chaos and random destruction. And that, young writers, is evil in its purest form. No superpowers, no diabolical machines, just the human potential, switched into 'evil' mode.

Of course, Heath Ledger's Joker is also a super villain for a number of other reasons. If you go back and watch The Dark Knight again, you'll notice that the Joker, with practically nothing but his intellect, can take on Bruce Wayne, who has:

1. The financial backing of his parent's inheritance.
2. The support of Gotham's government and police force (at least for the first half of the movie).
3. A huge array of technology, advanced weaponry, and maxed-out gear.

This is a reversal of the classic one-against-many. Usually one-against-many is used in the pretext of a hero's struggle, but here it's been reworked - subtly so - so that it's now the Joker's struggle. Which takes us to the next defining trait of the Joker.

The Joker is a rare example of the bad guy that makes it on his own without the pre-existing aid of money or connections. Using his intelligence and cunning, he builds up his resource base so he can finance a crew and buy the tools of his trade (mostly explosives, matches, and lighters). He sets out with single-minded purpose, but doesn't forget to attend to the details. His solutions are brilliant in their simplicity, coldly efficient in execution. He's capable of thinking in complex ways, but he always brings things back to one clear-cut point.

Finally, and most significantly, the Joker is a philosopher. His motivation in The Dark Knight is something more unique, something purer than the aims of most other villains. In The Dark Knight, the Joker sets out to do one thing - to prove a point. He's not searching for power. He's not out for revenge. He's not looking for world domination, he's not trying to control something or someone, he's not doing it for love or infamy or recognition or to stroke his pride or show off what he's capable of. 

His sole purpose is to make a statement about the state of humanity. And that by itself is one of the most original motivations in the history of villainy. 

4. The Faces Of Evil


As you can see above, evil isn't always chaotic, super-powered, or diabolical. A fair amount of the time, it's subtle and humorous.

Evil comes in many forms. Most of the examples I've used in this post deal with super villains of some sort, but there are many instances where the villains are normal-looking people that would pass us on the street. One particular example is a new show called Once (as in Once Upon a Time, as a reference to).

Once does a beautiful and graceful job of translating ancient fairytales into modern interpretations. The arcane art of magic becomes the practice of law, the higher villains become selfish or manipulative misers in the upper echelons of society, and the good guys become hard-working and honest people in the middle or lower class, who have their aspirations and hopes to something more. 

The point is that no matter your story, whether it be high fantasy fiction or self-reflective teenage literature, it is always possible to have a villain.

So In Conclusion! Villains are necessary to a story, be they mundane or unearthly, unintentionally humorous or nefariously evil. A hero is only as good as the villain he's fighting, so don't forget to give your villain a little bit of love and attention to make sure they're fleshed out nice and proper.

Continuing the Inkfingers tradition of bashing Twilight, I leave you with this post's commentary on Twilight.

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