The Character Supporting the Villain
Hello again friends, readers, and authors. Thank you for taking time to read my contribution to this month’s Soul Mates Publishing blog. We have discussed, examined, and looked behind the scenes of writing a novel. I have written about scene setting, goal setting, the heroine’s role, the hero’s part in the story, the supporting characters, and the villain.
Today, I am dissecting the evil secondary character, the bad guy supporting the villain. Someone with a low moral character, usually a secondary citizen, in appearance, in standing with society, and in personal confidence in himself or herself, easily swayed, and willing to follow a downward path. He/she is contemptuous of others and considers himself/herself superior to those around him/her.
Case in point: #1 A Lady’s Vanishing Choices excerpt
On the seedy edge of London, Freddy ambled into the Red Rooster Tavern and headed for the taproom. Peeking around the door into the dim interior of the building, he glanced at the only patron in sight. The customer leaned against the bar with a glass in his hand, staring down into the content.
Freddy hated the odor of strong whisky mixed with ale permeating the place. He gulped in a breath of air, lowered his lids, and peered further into the room to locate the Frenchman. He headed toward the gentleman sprawled nonchalantly in a chair in the shadowy corner. Glasses and a bottle sat on the table before him. Freddy picked his way to the back of the taproom through the empty, scuffed tables with up-ended chairs atop them. Flopping down in a chair across from the Frenchman, he grabbed a glass. The Frenchman poured a measure of whiskey into the tumbler and settled back in his chair.
“Never mind politeness,” Freddy sneered.
“I’m warning you,” the Frenchman hissed. His cold, dark eyes held a deadly glint. “My patience is nearly at an end, Agent.”
Freddy held up one hand. “No sense in getting into a pucker, Gentleman—if you will.” He continued in a lowered voice. “I searched the entire place, every drawer, everything. I was nearly caught too.”
“A parlor maid came looking for me. I flirted with her earlier, and she was most obliging,” Freddy finished with a grin. “I dropped a hint in the housekeeper’s ear, so likely the maid will be turned off.” He sniggered. “She’ll probably be blamed for everything.”
“Get to the point,” the Frenchman demanded with an exasperated sigh.
“I found his papers. No names were mentioned and the memorandum wasn’t there either. Never expected it to be, so no loss.” Freddy swallowed a sip of whiskey and coughed, wiping his mouth with a linen handkerchief. “A warning, if you please. Officials are searching high and low for your sister.”
The Frenchman gave a cold laugh. “My half-sister, to be exact, but let ‘em search. The authorities will never find her. I’m above half too clever for those blokes. I buried her name with a body. Joliet is no more. She now has another.”
“I say, that is clever.”
“Enough of that.” The Frenchman waved dismissively. “You need to make another attempt to locate that memorandum. It’s vitally important.”
“I realize that. Gentleman, since that is what you prefer to be called. Don’t be concerned. I plan to make another trip to the Horse Guards while I’m in town.”
“Don’t try to antagonize me.” The Frenchman flung his head back and shot a withering stare at Freddy. “Be very cautious when next you appear at the Horse Guards.”
“Posh. I’ve been running tame at their headquarters for the last ten years. Nobody thinks anything of it.” He thinks he’s so superior. Still, perhaps I should heed him. Freddy forced out a chuckle. “I have always admired their jack-o-dandy uniforms, you know. Nothing is going to happen.” He lowered his voice and glanced around. “Even if I snag that memorandum, what’s to stop the military from changing plans?”
The Frenchman smiled with a grimace of his lips. “Changing the launch site and date of thousands of troops would be close to impossible—and costly. Wellington won’t risk it.”
After thinking on it for a moment, Freddy gave a curt nod. “Consider it done. I have an idea where the memorandum is kept. Probably somewhere in the same location I collected the list of the half English, half French agents undercover for the crown.”
“Don’t be too cocksure. Be cautious.” A heated expression flared in the Frenchman’s eyes. “That damn list of traitors. Half English, half French. Half foolish is my take on the blighters. At any rate, it is in code. I have someone decoding it even now. I hope this memorandum we’re searching for isn’t in the same condition.”
“Waste of precious time. When I have the thing, I’ll leave it in our usual hiding place.” Freddy stood to his feet. “I’ll let you know when we meet in a week or perhaps a little longer.”
He saluted the Frenchman with his glass, gulped another swallow, and strode to the exit.
The villain always has a motive and justification for his deeds, however monstrous in the world’s opinion, as does the supporting evil-doer. As depicted in the excerpt, Freddy is contemptuous of the Frenchman but is afraid to cross the villain. The supporting character doesn’t care for the title of Agent, but he acquiesces to the use of the name to placate the arch villain. Although Freddy assures the Frenchman he can secure the memorandum, his confidence comes from his contempt for society in general and defiance of his father’s opinion of him, not stated in this excerpt but implied in his visit to a seedy tavern, drinking and running with a low-life crowd.
Case in Point: #2 excerpt: An Enduring Love
Even with her back turned to the room, the deep, menacing growl in Beau’s throat rumbled in her ears. Rebecca froze for a moment and the hairs at the nape of her neck stood on end. A chill raced down her spine as she reached for her pistol. Having no intentions of watching the dog suffer a grievous wound trying to protect her when she had a perfectly lethal weapon at the ready, she placed a restraining hand on his head. She whirled around with her gun in her hand at the same moment a quick tap sounded before the door opened.
Her worst nightmare stood in the doorway. Gorgi Weister and he had a quilt thrown over his arm. The glimmer of his golden hair in the lamp light added dimension to his handsome features and the diabolical grin sent another shiver down her spine. An angel of light, such was Satan. She shook the fanciful thought away.
“Well, well, well,” he drawled, his voice soft and low.
Rebecca’s gaze locked with his and he stood perfectly still, smug in his arrogance, knowing fear of him would come. She knew from the past, he loved power and control. Forcing her expression to remain as blank as possible, she leveled her pistol straight at his heart. “Stay where you are and raise your hands.”
He grinned. “How very female of you, my dear. I mean no harm.”
Her voice quivered, but she forced the gun barrel to remain level. “Where is my Johnny?”
He shrugged. “Now Rebecca. How would I know?”
“Then, what are you doing here?”
He motioned to the coverlet he held out. “I thought to bring this quilt back to the boy.” Weister raised a brow. “He hid when my men were by here. I’m afraid bad manners allowed them to borrow this covering. May I at least rid myself of the thing?” Without waiting for her approval, he eased the quilt on a nearby chair. Weister failed to lift his hands completely, almost complying with her former command, but not quite. “The boy shouldn’t suffer for its loss and, lo and behold, my good deed is rewarded.” He extended both arms. “Look what I found.”
Rebecca held her hand steady, but she trembled on the inside, afraid her pounding heart might burst. The low rumble coming from Beau reassured her. She could always set him to attack. “Tommy isn’t about at the moment.”
“No, I’m aware. Neither is that rather neglectful Lord Sudduth.” He smirked and shook his head. “Alone again with no protection.”
She waved her gun at him. “I have my pistol. That’s all the protection I need.”
With a condescending twist of his lips, he stared at her. “Rebecca, Rebecca, my dear. How brave, but foolish you are.”
At that moment, Beau gave a vicious growl followed by a snarling bark and jerked away from her hand. Rebecca rounded to observe Bruno in the act of slamming the butt of his rifle towards Beau’s head. She shot immediately, but the gun stock still hit Beau a glancing blow and he went down with a yelp. Bruno grabbed his chest and crumpled to his knees before he toppled completely over. He lay without moving, his features frozen in fixed horror.
Rebecca didn’t regret killing him, but taking a life made her stomach roil with revulsion. She swallowed to keep the bile from choking her.
Weister gazed down at his fallen minion before glancing at Rebecca. “That is a shame. My best man too.” He grimaced. “Still, he failed to shoot your husband. Shot the horse instead.” Stepping towards her, he continued in a mocking tone. “Your weapon is no longer loaded and all for a dog. Tch! Tch! What will you do now?”
In contrast, this minion was willing to commit murder, and to kill a dog, the dirty coward. He followed orders, using his vicious tendencies and proclivities for evil in the service of his master.
The secondary villain also has a reason for his bad behavior, not always revealed, except to assume he did his evil deeds for money. That can certainly be assumed by the reader.
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