Welcome to another Writer’s Wednesday
Last week I discussed villains. Today, I will discuss the necessary component to almost any villain—the bumbling henchman. Following that, I will begin a sub-series that I have entitled “Wednesday Word Tally” and that will continue every Wednesday for the remainder of 2012.
Before I begin, though, a tribute. Yesterday was the eleventh anniversary of a tragedy on American soil—9/11. That day called into action many new fears, sorrows, and questions for the United States. In the last eleven years, I’ve been asked many questions myself about how the attacks affected me. Where were you? How old were you? Did you know anyone who was killed in the attacks? What do you remember feeling when you found out? My answers are mine, but I have a feeling they are not unique.
I was sitting in my seventh grade history class. We were about to begin another class discussing an ancient civilization (which escapes me) when one of the librarians walked into the room. She exchanged words with our teacher, and then said teacher informed us that the Twin Towers had been hit. I was twelve. At first I thought the entire thing had been an accident—how quickly that reaction, born of childhood innocence, was taken from me.
Thirty seconds changed the world I knew and took for granted as safe. I didn’t fully understand. What twelve-year-old could? In the last eleven years I’ve grown to understand. I’ve learned that as much as I wanted to curl into a ball and hide from the world that day, I couldn’t because that was exactly what the terrorists wanted. And how can I justify curling up and pretending nothing happened when three thousand people are dead?
If there’s one lesson to take from 9/11 it is to never give in. Don’t stop living your life. Fear is crippling. Fear lives in all of us. But we need to fight. Not just for ourselves but for those who lost. We need to fight for 3000 people who woke up and went to work or got on a plane and who never dreamed they’d never see their loved ones again. Fight the fear. Fight for the hope.
Please join me in a moment of silence for the 9/11 victims and their families and loved ones.
All right, evil henchmen. Why are they there? I’ve discovered a couple of uses. I’ve seen them be comic relief, allow the villain’s presence to be in multiple places at once, mess up the villains plans, and annoy the villain.
Notice that I did not include “help the villain.” While this does happen occasionally, I’ve seen far more cases of just the opposite.
What does this mean for the creation of henchmen? It means that room should not be left within the story’s plot for the “henchman’s great discovery.” Odds are good, there isn’t one. To try and help this process, here are three qualities to give your characters to make them the best (or maybe worst) henchmen ever.
-“I’ve got the gold here, pa.” – The Outlaw Josie Wales
This is a common problem. Money is tantalizing, and henchmen often fall for the “I’ve got the gold/money/loot/gems/valuable cargo” line. And, just as often, there is no valuable cargo to speak of. In its place is usually a weapon that the good guy uses to shoot the henchman. But if the henchman didn’t fall for the gold line, then the villain might. What good would that be?
-“I want my own Robin Signal in the sky.” – Batman (1997)
Believe it or not, the side-kick of Gotham City’s caped crusader actually said this. Though Robin is not an evil henchman, the concept outlined here still applies. I will refer to another quote from my father to explain this. “All super heroes have a weakness. Superman had kryptonite. Batman had Robin.” And why was Robin a weakness? Aside from the obvious fact that Batman would have survived just fine without him, Robin’s ego grew from association with the disguised Bruce Wayne. It’s no good when henchmen’s egos get inflated. They start to think on their own and question the villain’s motives. “I do not like bright and ambitious people. You have to watch them all the time” (Hogan’s Heroes). Translation—smart people think, figure stuff out, and eventually want to be the villain rather than the stupid side man.
-“So you took care of him, huh? Dead as a doornail. Weren’t those your exact words?” – Disney’s Hercules
Henchman will lie to their boss to save their skin. While loyal (mainly because they don’t think about exactly why they’re working for a nut case who wants to blow up the world) they are also extremely into self-preservation. They know the villain will be furious when he discovers their mistake—might even find a new stupid henchman. So they do whatever they must to keep their job. This always backfires because, sooner or later, the cat gets out of the bag.
Keep these in mind when creating your own henchmen. They are kind of like puppies—incredibly loyal but not terribly smart. I mean this lovingly. I love puppies. All dogs are puppies, but the comparison here works.
Wednesday Word Tally
I announced on my Facebook author page about a week ago that I was making it my goal to finish two of the novels I have in progress by New Years. At the time, one was just under 20,000, and the other was (still is) sitting around 35,000 words. So I decided to take the one that was just under 20,000 and keep track of my words. I did some quick math and found out that to reach my total word goal of 80,000 by December 31, I would have to write 531 words a day.
Right. As any writer will tell you, that seems like nothing until you get that week where there’s no time whatsoever. All of a sudden, it’s a thousand words a day, then two thousand, and so on.
However I really really do want to finish this by December 31. So, to keep myself honest and to have a public record of my word count each week, I will be posting it here.
But that’s not all. To compliment my Wednesday Word Tally, I will give a little info about the book each week—character profiles, concept inspiration, excerpts. But never enough to give the story away.
I have mentioned this work in passing before. It is an urban fantasy set in New York City in a world where magic is a part of everyday life. So, it’s New York as we know it with wizards, fairies, vampires, werewolves, gargoyles, pixies, witches…all right. Maybe it’s not exactly how we know it. Oh and humans. There are plenty of humans walking around perfectly aware of their magical counterparts.
|Day||Start Count||Written||Final Count|
Total words this week: 3090
Average per day: 1030
Words remaining: 57,552