Tag Archives: Sympathetic Villain

Writing Excuses 9.25: Adjusting Character Sympathy

This podcast references episode 9.13 where we introduce a three-slider model for characters. Here we talk about character sympathy, or rather the sympathy that the reader will have for the character, and how we as writers go about adjusting that sympathy — moving the slider, if you will. We also talk about why we want to make that adjustment, whether we’re dealing with villains, side-characters, or protagonists.

Some of our tricks for moving the slider include changing the characters around them, controlling the distance between the reader and the character, showing character weaknesses, and using humor to mask the unsympathetic moments. We talk about how we’ve deployed these tools in our own work, and how we’ve seen it done well in the work of others.

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Take something that you’ve written recently. Swap out all of the dialog with completely different words (you can keep articles and pronouns) but retain the meaning.

The Butcher of Khardov: The Warcaster Chronicles Volume 2, by Dan Wells, narrated by Marc Vietor.

Writing Excuses Season 3 Episode 29: Antiheroes

What is an Antihero? There are lots of definitions of this word, so Dan boils it down to just three: The Frodo, The Punisher, and The Talented Mister Ripley. And that third definition is the one Brandon believes to be the most correct, at least in the strict literary sense.

This was a difficult ‘cast for Howard because he’s familiar with Frodo and The Punisher, but has no experience with The Talented Mister Ripley beyond movie trailers. He gets by, though. He’s seen a lot of movie trailers.

Have a listen, and learn a lot.

Writing Prompt: Write a true, classically-defined antihero in such a way that Howard will enjoy it.

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