Antagonists on WIP Wednesday

maxresdefaultI do enjoy writing a good villain. Not all of my books have one. Sometimes, the only obstacles to the hero and heroine come from within, or from their life circumstances. Overcoming those can be hard and the journey can be satisfying, but for a true hiss-boo moment, with rotten tomatoes flying from the audience and ladies fainting in the gallery, we need a moustache-twirling, hand-rubbing, snickering,  wicked villain.

So what does your WIP hold? Is your antagonistic force a person, and is that person a villain? Share an excerpt that shows him or her in all their dreadful glory! (And if you don’t have a villain, share your antagonist anyway.)

Here are two of my villains, from A Raging Madness. Ella is escaping from the window of her bed chamber, and stops at the bottom of the climb for a rest.

Inside, a very long way away on the other side of the gentle fog that embraced her, two people were talking. Constance and Edwin. It did not matter. They were silly people, anyway. Gervais had not admired his older half-brother; a matter in which he and Ella were in rare accord. The two men shared a mother, but little of that kind, gentle woman showed in either son: the one a bullying, often violent rake; the other a sanctimonious Puritan—but another bully for all that. Not as much so as his wife.

The bully was bullied. Ella suppressed her giggle. Sssshhh. Mustn’t make a sound. She was running away. Soon. First she would have a little sleep.

But as she closed her eyes, her own name caught her attention. Constance and Edwin were talking about her? She forced herself to concentrate, to listen.

“No, Mrs Braxton. Ella will not convince them she is sane. I have chosen with care, I tell you. I visited six asylums before this one, and this is perfect for our purposes. The doctor in charge has promised to keep her dosed, and even if he does not, the place itself will drive her insane. If you saw it, heard the noise… Yes, my dear, I can assure you, our plans are sound.”

Constance answered, the whine in her voice grating against Ella’s eardrums. “But what if you are wrong, Edwin? If she convinces someone in authority that she is sane, prison will be the least…”

“No, my dove. Not at all. No one at the asylum will listen to her ravings, and if they did, what of it? Who will they tell? Even in the worse case, all we need do is say her mind was turned after mother’s death, and how glad we are that she is well again.”

“I do not know.” The frown was heavy in Constance’s voice. “But we cannot keep her here. I trust Kingsford, but the other servants may start to murmur. It will drive her insane, you say?”

“It will. I guarantee it. I hesitate to mention it, Mrs Braxton, it not being a topic for a lady’s delicate ears…”

“Spit it out, Edwin. What?”

“My own treasure, I am given to understand that the attendants avail themselves of the, er, charms of the patients, and even do a, er, trade with the nearby town. Not, of course, with the approval of the medical staff. No, of course. That would be most unprofessional. But it is most enterprising of them, and serves our purposes rather well, dear sister being a comely woman.”

Ella puzzled this out. Surely Edwin did not mean that the attendants forced the women, and prostituted them?

“Ah. Very good,” Constance said. “The woman is horribly resilient. Any decent gentlewoman would have succumbed to madness long since with all your brother put her through, and what has happened since. But surely even she is not coarse enough to withstand multiple rapes.”

“The doctor will be here tomorrow,” Edwin said, with enormous satisfaction. “And she will be safely tucked away where she can do no harm.”

Their voices faded as they moved away, clearly leaving the room since the window went dark.

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14 thoughts on “Antagonists on WIP Wednesday

  1. As I said elsewhere, I haven’t exactly got a villain, but I do have an antagonist. The main conflict in “The Long Shadow” occurs between the main character, Lord Chatham, and his brother, William Pitt (yes, the prime minister). The following scene occurs after one of the pivotal scenes in the novel, in which William strikes John a devastating blow at his weakest point: his insecurity. This is probably the only scene in the whole book where John doesn’t appear, but I’m sure you’ll be glad to see his wife Mary instead. 🙂

    (And now I’m slightly worried I’ve shared this scene before, but it fits well here, so what the heck… And as usual it’s a bit overlong…)

    “‘Mr Pitt. I must ask a favour.’

    The coldness in his eyes intensified, but he smiled. He was getting over his surprise at finding her in his house, and re-establishing control over himself. ‘Of course, dear Lady Chatham. Anything for you and yours.’

    Mary’s hands tightened into fists. If William thought he was going to sweep her aside as a woman petitioning for her family he would soon find the stakes had risen too high. ‘I do not know what happened between you and my husband last night. I am not certain I wish to find out. But I do know you have his reputation, his very self, in your hands.’

    ‘If wish me to keep your husband in office, you must know nothing would give me more pleasure, but it is impossible.’

    ‘I realise there have been engagements made.’ She forced herself to meet William’s steely gaze. ‘But to dismiss him now, without a defeat or scandal, without any apparent reason, is too cruel.’

    ‘The arrangement will be so discreet that—’ William began, but Mary was ready for him.

    ‘Your discretion will look like avoiding confrontation. My husband has been attacked for over a year now. You know how much he values his dignity and reputation.’ William looked at her. There was nothing for it; she would have to plead. She closed her eyes and threw all her love into the task. ‘I ask only that you wait, William. Three months; six. No more than that. But to remove him now, with no chance to defend himself, will destroy him.’

    He blinked at the use of his Christian name, but otherwise Mary felt she was talking to a statue. He said, in a strained voice, ‘Lady Chatham, I cannot.’

    William’s gaze was level and piercing, but there was something distant in it, something she could not touch. She realised she had her hands clasped before her as though begging. She unlinked them.

    Mary had known John and William since childhood. As much as they quarrelled, the brothers complemented each other perfectly. She did not fully comprehend their bond, but she respected it. But this went beyond a quarrel. This was a dagger in the heart of their brotherhood. She refused to believe William did not see it; she refused to believe his heart was so much cast into stone he did not care.

    She stepped forwards and saw a flicker of doubt in her brother-in-law’s grey eyes. ‘What I most love in my husband is his ability to set himself aside, to think only of his duty to others. But in this, Mr Pitt, you have thought only of yourself, and for that I will never forgive you.’

    She turned from him and left before the trembling of her hands gave her away.”

  2. From my WIP, A Midwinter Wind, for the Belles’ next box set, but this is also the primary (possibly underused) villain from La Déesse Noire: The Black Goddess.

    ***

    There was a certain poetic justice in the cards Lord Birchbright now held, and he couldn’t help chuckling at the opportunity that had arisen. He had been given another chance at the foiled blackmail attempt on Coventon, back then Fitzmarten, before he had ascended to his marquessate. Birchbright had arranged for Coventon’s lust for dark flesh to be satisfied, by serving up a half-caste courtesan to be the man’s mistress, then bided his time, gathered evidence, and waited until Fitzmarten was most vulnerable. When his father died in heavy debt, and everything rode on his upcoming marriage, Birchbright sprung his trap.

    Sadly, the young pup deflected the maneuver, maintaining his independence from Birchbright’s coalition, left with a tarnished name and a wife who would forever question her place in his life, but without lasting political impact. He had even gained support among Birchbright’s enemies, when it got about that Coventon was the target of a smear.

    And the courtesan in question was Birchbright’s illegitimate daughter. It was the first time he used her in a such a scheme, and the last time she took anything he said at face value. Coventon had come between Birchbright and his daughter before he set the girl aside, and made it that much more difficult to control her since then.

    Birchbright had been forced to more desperate measures than he could ever have imagined, now called back to London to meet with Hamish LaRue to make arrangements for the care and feeding of his four-year-old granddaughter, insurance against any future insurrection of his daughter.

    If not for Coventon, setting Birchbright’s daughter’s heart and mind against him years ago, it might never have come to this. The brat would still be with her, and she would be doing as she was told, like female offspring were designed to do. Especially female offspring without a legitimate claim to his fortune, who were, nonetheless, provided the equivalent of a dowry and a start to her chosen occupation with a man who treated her better than she deserved. If Coventon hadn’t poisoned her against him, he would not see a kidnapper in his looking glass every morning.

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