Don’t Make Me Come Back There!

There is nothing like a minivan to bring out the best in people. Just think of it, seven warm bodies crammed in the space of two elevators for hours on end. Sounds like bliss, right? Not.

There are days I’d rather have another root canal than make a six hour drive to relatives, if you know what I mean. Before it is all over I utter those all too familiar words at least a gazillion times, “Don’t make me come back there!”

Talk about an empty threat. Like I’m going to prolong the agony any longer by stopping the car to deal with the mayhem. Well, once in a while I do, but my kids know that line has a limited threat potential. Especially since I’m dying to get out of the van as much as they are.

Do your villains make the same kind of threats? The kind of threats that feel like they are full of hot air?

It is so easy sometimes to just make a threat at the end of a scene to add danger, or mood. But if our threats are full of hot air the reader won’t really need to read to the end to feel like the hero/heroine are okay.

How To Hot Air Proof The Danger In Your Novel:

*Make your villain bad enough to fear. If the villain doesn’t feel dangerous, then who cares. They didn’t have a bunny chase after Little Red Riding Hood, why should we? Make your villain do evil things, show that s/he has the power to be that dangerous, and give them a dose of arrogance.

*Make the threat count. If your villain is threatening your hero with a paper cut no one will care. If they are threatening their life, we will have a greater fear for the character. Have the villain go after the heroine’s loved ones. Think of what your character values most in the world, that is what a villain should threaten.

*Create a fear mood in threatening scenes. Walking through the tulip garden and smelling the flowers with the sun kissing the freckles on your nose won’t create a sense of fear. If you want your readers to fear the villain, you must create the mood. Shadows, darkness, location of threat, etc.

*Up the probability of the threat. Show the villain getting closer and closer to the character. Show the character going deeper and deeper into dangerous territory with their discoveries. Foreshadow the coming danger.

*Up the threat stakes. At the beginning of the story, maybe the villain is only threatening the hero/heroine. By the end of the story, they are threatening the people close to the lead. When others in their world are being hurt by the threat it makes it seem more real and likely they will be hurt as well.

Who is the most unbelievable villain that you can think of? Why?

(For more tips on villains, check out Susan May Warren’s book Deep and Wide. http://www.mybooktherapy.com/magento/  Her teaching inspired some of the ideas in this blog.)

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About Michelle Lim

Author Michelle Lim is the Brainstorming/Huddle Coach with My Book Therapy Press and the Midwest Zone Director for American Christian Fiction Writers. Michelle’s romantic suspense is represented by Karen Solem of Spencillhill Associates and has gained contest recognition in the Frasier, the Genesis, and the Phoenix Rattler, winning the Genesis in 2015 for her genre. Michelle writes devotionals for The Christian Pulse Online Magazine and Putting On The New. Since her nonfiction book release, Idea Sparking: How To Brainstorm Conflict In Your Novel, through public speaking and online chats Michelle helps writers discover the revolutionary power of brainstorming to bring new life to their stories.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Make Me Come Back There!

  1. I can’t think of an unbelievable villain right now, but I do remember once trying to create a dark scene and writing something like: shadows danced in the moonlight. Pairing a happy activity and trying to create tension…NOT. lol Great post. Who is your most unbelievable villain, Michelle?

  2. Michelle Lim says:

    You know, I can’t think of one off the top of my head too much right now. One I don’t like is the one on Lazytown. He is unbelieveable to me, but I suppose in the process of trying to make him less scary for kids, they had to do that.

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