NaNoCoDo #8 Baddies

I can’t think of anything more boring than a story where only good things happen to your Main Character. They set out on a quest, find the treasure, meet the love of their life and live happily ever after.


That may be a life to aspire to – but it’s never going to be a book worth reading.

Readers want conflict, difficulties, trauma, drama, suffering, blood – and that’s just for a light romantic read!

Seriously, your hero(ine) needs obstacles to overcome so the reader can see them at their best. This is your baddie. It may not be a person – it could be a group of people, fate, the weather, a computer, an alien civilisation – whatever you like. It could be the Sheriff, if your “good guys” are outlaws! The Opposition. But let’s refer to it as your baddie.

Baddies need motivation (I mentioned this in my previous entry). If it’s a person (or alien or computer) then it must be sentient enough to have its own wants and needs. Even the giant wolf that’s hunting your character has needs – DINNER.

Non-sentient baddies don’t have conscious needs, but they have set patterns of behaviour. If your characters are battling to build a shelter before the monsoon, they know roughly when it’s likely to start. It may come a week early and wash away their undried mortar, but there will be warning signs.

Natural disasters may appear to be random events – but they can trigger each other. In European history, the Black Death killed a large part of the population and the survivors were not up to preventing the Great Fire of London the following year. (Which was a good thing – fire really kills all those lingering germs!) Look at the Plagues of Egypt in the Bible (Exodus) and the Q’ran. Each plague could have caused the next – the plague of frogs die and then there’s a plague of insects, presumably springing from the frog carcasses. You need to think like this for your fiction, too. Cause and effect makes the sequence more acceptable to the reader of your book – and helps you structure a crescendo of danger for your characters to overcome.

So give some thought to the way your baddies will interact with your good guys. Think about how their actions will escalate, forcing your heroes to ever greater trials to win through. And make sure you understand their motivation, so they aren’t just a collection of random obstacles on the hero’s way to win the crown.