As a writer, I think it is pretty safe to say that, at some level, I love all of my characters. Most writers would probably agree with me. I mean, here are these individuals that we’ve given birth to. We’ve watched them grow, succeed and fail. We nurse them through heartache and high-five their victories.
How can you not love someone you’re so intimately acquainted with?
Every now and then, however, a particular character stands out from the rest and truly steals your heart. Sometimes that character happens to be the villain of the tale.
This happened to me recently as I wrote Reflection, my follow up novel to Awakening. In this story, Bridget, the heroine, must overcome a devastating trauma in her past and her life is infinitely complicated by Dale Whittier, the villain of the piece.
Dale is obsessed with bending Bridget to his will. An arrogant, conceited man, Dale is used to women fawning over his looks and money. Bridget’s refusal of him is like a magnet. He can’t resist her. He needs her to want him as much as he’s needs to control her. For Dale, sex and love are synonymous with control.
I can’t speak for other authors, but I write detailed character sketches for every character who has a point of view scene in my books. I do this to get inside their heads so that every character I write doesn’t speak with the same inflections and tone. The side-effect of this is that I know all my characters’ psychologies.
I know that Dale is in love with Bridget, but doesn’t know how to relate to her as an equal. That he’s become obsessed with having her because he can’t deal with her rejection and how it reminds him of his secret feelings of inadequacy.
Despite the fact that he is a horrid person and completely irredeemable in my book, I want to take him in my arms and hug him. I want to soothe away his pain and help him see that love and harm aren’t synonymous.
Who knows, maybe I’ll write his book sometime in the future. Maybe there’s redemption for him yet.