More from Diana Wynne Jones: writing about ‘baddies’

Still reading Reflections on the Magic of Writing, by Diana Wynne Jones, and came across this advice to young writers, the vice versa to protagonists having a shadow side:

“You have to remember that villains are real people too. They have reasons for what they do . . . and they do not, as a rule, regard themselves as evil. They are acting for a cause, or out of deeply held convictions which have led them the wrong way. A lot of writers forget this. They make the baddie give evil laughs and rejoice in his/her wickedness — or worse, they wriggle out by making the villain mad. . . .The majority of bad people are not like this.

“And here is a tip, something I often do. Make your baddie someone you know and dislike. Use a real live person. Then there will be no trouble in making him/her convincing. You know them anyway. People are often shocked when I say this. But, since no bad person ever thinks of themselves as bad, these live people will always fail to recognize themselves and there is no harm done. Besides, they deserve it.”

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Quote from Diana Wynne Jones on happy endings

DownloadedFile“It is no accident that the majority of folktales . . . have a happy ending. Most of them are very deep-level blueprints of how to aim for the moon. The happy ending does not only give you gratification as you read it, but it also gives you hope that, just maybe, a fortunate outcome could be possible. Your brain likes that. It is built to want a solution.”

From Reflections: On the Magic of Writing, by Diana Wynne Jones, a collection of speeches, essays, and autobiography compiled before she died in 2011. She wrote forty-something books of fantasy, including Howl’s Moving Castle, Fire and Hemlock, the Chrestomanci series (about a magician with nine lives), The Dalemark Quartet, Dark Lord of Derkholm, The Game, etc., etc., and even a Tough Guide to FantasyLand, that asks the question: Why do the people in fantasies always eat stew?