aprilhenry (aprilhenry) wrote,

Riding the Robo-Badger

I was listening to a news story about the return of the black-footed ferret. They were thought to be extinct until a dog showed up at his owner's doorstep 25 years ago today with one in his mouth.

As part of the story, they described how biologists have tried to show the ferrets which predators they should fear. The approach has not always been effective.

"We had this thing called Robo-Badger. It was this mechanized badger that we would drive around the pens to try and scare the ferrets. When the ferrets started riding on the back of the badger, we kind of thought, 'Well, let's move to something else...'"

Sometimes when I create a villain, he becomes like the Robo-Badger. It's easy to pull your punches and have the villain not be as scary as he needs to be. Because in order to do that, he is going to have to do things that make you squirm. He is going to have to hurt someone. He may even need to kill somebody off - preferably a likeable character. Otherwise, readers might start believing that you would never let anything bad happen to your main characters. Show readers that you can do it and that you will do it. From that point on, readers will be jumpy at the first sign of a threat against one of the remaining characters.

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Tags: ferrets, robo-badger, villains
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