This program is made possible through a generous gift from Ruth and Russell Bolton
in conjunction with the Eberly College of Arts & Sciences.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Getting Our Evil On

A few weeks ago as spring was dragging its feet and winter was overstaying its welcome, life felt a bit monstrous... I blame it on the seemingly ever-present swirling snow. Feeling a bit downcast and dejected, us Honors Hall Boltoneers decided to give in to our darker sides and create villains. Because all good villains have good backstories and even better outfits, we decided to have a villain mash-up. On a piece of paper, we each wrote down a certain identifying item about a villain and then switched-off. What is a quintessential part to your villain's outfit? Switch. What is his or her secret? Switch. What is his or her habit? Switch. Secret Pleasure? Switch. Pet Peeve? Switch. First and last name? Switch. From there, we drew our characters and wrote a short scene about them. The results were legendary:
A man loves cocktails and dancing and whale-bone corsets.
A woman with fabulously long fingernails and a fish-tank belt.
You get the picture.

But then we discussed why we love villains so. They speak to fears and insecurities we have. We get to live out darker impulses. Better yet, we discussed what makes a good villain, and we decided that the really good villains, the ones that stick with us, have wonderfully human habits (we looked at Wilkie Collins's Count personal all-time favorite villain). But they also are inexplicable. They scare us because we can't explain them away. And so, armed with our new sense of villain-wisdom, we wrote about our own. But taking Count Fosco's love for animals into account, we wrote a scene where our bully or villain is sympathetic, because good characters are complicated ones. The results were wonderful with everyone creating complicated backstory and paying attention to details and syntax. We realized that if we wanted to create really great villains, we had to give their time on the page as much attention and care as our protagonists, too.

Come join us on Sunday, April 14, for our Spring Semester Bolton reading at 4pm in the Honors Hall. Maybe a few of our villains will show up, too.

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