The Voice of the Villain

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Anyone who’s ever watched The Incredibles knows that monologuing is a bad idea. But I have finally found the voice of Animus, the third in my 2-book series, and it’s the bad guy’s. Well, nominally bad. A series of interviews with a high-ranking prisoner of war, where the reader only gets his answers. I’m not sure such a conceit can be comfortably stretched to a full novel but it’s certainly fun to play with for a novella.

By making the protagonist a prisoner of war, I have also found a way for the inner monologue to come wholly external. This guy has nothing left to lose except his life, which he isn’t overly fussed about, so he’s got no compunction about saying aloud whatever crosses his mind. He’s arrogant, rude, flippant, crippled by regret and grief, filled with hate towards his captors, and fantastic fun to write. Also sarcastic, which I’ve discovered is quite hard to do with a character who is physically incapable of lying.

The style does pose some unique challenges though. How do you include dialogue in what is essentially already speech? How do you imply the other unheard half of the conversation without making it very clunky? And how do you build in a character arc for someone who starts at the end of his story and is recounting it to another person? This has been done before – Moby Dick springs immediately to mind and I’m sure there’s more contemporary examples – but it’s new to me. Still, I like a challenge.

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