Reality T.V. as fuel for character development

How do I develop a villain without making him, or her, a cliché bad guy? Tips I’ve read say to try to make him less one dimensional by giving him quirks and something about him that could be loveable, if he hadn’t gone so wrong. Yes, these tips are good, but why was my villain behaving so badly, if he was a loveable guy with fun quirks? How could my reader relate to behaviors that seemed so strange to me? I wasn’t finding examples for my villain in my own life, or in the faces of my acquaintances and friends, so where could I look? My villain in progress was a sociopath who was able to live a double life with no remorse. At first I didn’t have a feel for what he was feeling, or how to understand his motivations, but then I stumbled upon the show Hard Core Pawn. I watched it because the inexplicably erratic behaviors of the pawn store customers made me laugh, but after watching a marathon of episodes, it dawned on me that the hysterical people the bouncers were walking, and sometimes carrying, out the door all had something in common: a sense of entitlement that I could not wrap my head around. Who would walk into a store and demand money for worthless objects and then throw a fit and threaten the owner when he said no?  From the show, I got the impression: everyone in Detroit. But then I started thinking, someone like my character; someone who felt that the world owed him and he was going to demand his due. This overreaching sense of entitlement brought a new dimension to my villain. I recently thought about adding a disillusioned young adult whose mom  put her in pageants as a child (Toddlers & Tiaras), or a hoarder who won’t let anyone come to her house because she lives in piles of possessions and piles of debt (Hoarding: Buried Alive). I am not recommending focusing on any one reality persona (for example Si Robertson (Duck Dynasty), or any one of the Kardashians), too closely, but when looking for inspiration for your characters with bad behavior, a dose of scripted reality can be inspiring.

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Welcome to my writing life.

On this site, I will be sharing what inspires my writing and what I am learning through the process of getting my words on paper. I look forward to many lively discussions about technique, motivation and creativity.