Author Guest Post: Ellis Weiner

 
  
 
 
The Book Monsters is proud to be a part of the Templeton Twins Have an Idea blog tour, in which the author shares with us how he created his villains.
 
Creating Villains 

We’re talking about two kinds of villains, aren’t we? Because the villainy necessary for a comic novel is different from that necessary for an adventure or drama. 

In non-comic literature, villains can—and should—be as bad as one can make them, and by “bad” I mean “lethal.” Sauron, Voldemort, Darth Vader—these are the embodiments of absolute evil, and will literally kill your protagonist if at all possible. It’s not only their role, it’s their life’s work. (Which is why Return of the Jedi’s attempt to redeem Luke’s father was such an insult and so ill-conceived. Why? Because he had destroyed billions of lives by blowing up a planet, that’s why. Or am I the only one who finds this to be an objectionable mode of behavior?) 

In a comic universe—and especially in a children’s comic universe—you can have villainy. In fact, you have to–every story, novel, movie, etc. needs an antagonist. But these villains cannot be completely competent. They must be seen to be imperfectly evil. Not only must the protagonist not be allowed to die (as, indeed, they don’t die in children’s adventure stories like Lord of the Rings, the Harry Potter books, or Star Wars), but the atmosphere must be such that we know the hero is going to be fine. Only then can we feel relaxed enough to laugh. 

The taxonomy of villainy might be described thus: 

COMEDY is when the hero wins and his friends are okay. 

ADVENTURE is when the hero wins but one of his friends dies. 

TRAGEDY is when the hero dies. 

These are the rules of fictional genres. “Real life” may consist of a blend of the comical and the tragical, and adults may be able to make the shift from hilarity to horror as seen in such movies as Bonnie and Clyde or Pulp Fiction. But kids can’t. To be a child (even a smart child) is, by definition, to still be learning the rules. You cannot expect a child (by which I probably mean a reader up to the age of around 15) to be available to laugh if he or she doesn’t feel safely grounded within the rules of comedy. 

So the villains in The Templeton Twins Have an Idea are capable of being threatening, but are also—noticeably, from the start–buffoons. It would be interesting to stop reading once John and Abigail are imprisoned in the Deans’ basement, and ask the young listener what he/she thinks will happen next. I doubt that any one would say, “They’re going to die.” They sense, even if they don’t know it, that that would violate the rules.

More Information: 

Pester the Narrator

Chapter Excerpt

Other Stops on the Tour:

 

Blog Name
Tour Date
Featured Content
Blog URL
Mundie Kids
10-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
The Children's Book Review
11-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
There's A Book
12-Sep
Q&A with The Narrator
Watch.Connect.Read
13-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Stiletto Storytime
14-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Middle Grade Mafioso
15-Sep
Q&A with The Narrator
sharpread
16-Sep
Q&A with The Narrator
The Book Cellar
17-Sep
Q&A with author Ellis Weiner
Mother Daughter Book Club.com
18-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Media Darlings
19-Sep
Q&A with author Ellis Weiner
The Book Monsters
20-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Karin's Book Nook
21-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
The O.W.L.
22-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
The Children's and Teens' Book Connection
23-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Pink Me
24-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner
Book Dreaming
25-Sep
Guest post from author Ellis Weiner

 

 
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4 responses to “Author Guest Post: Ellis Weiner

  1. I am putting this on the running list for my daughter right now. Winning it would be awesome, though! I think she’d love this book.

    dogwoodlane (at) suddenlink (dot) net

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