Ask a Writer: Villains vs. Antagonists vs. Antiheroes – What’s the Difference and Does it Matter?

Villains vs Antagonists vs Antiheroes

Copyright – Walt Disney
(More of an Essay than a Blog Post, so be Warned, :P)

As I’ve been rereading The Last Coffee Shop for the first time since I finished the initial draft, I quickly realized something interesting: There is no outright/major villain character in TLCS. Instead, it’s about the heroine dealing with lots of ambiguous antagonists and a hostile world. This is a first for me, as I usually have a distinct villain character, and I love to write them.

And speaking of writing great villains, I read several excellent posts on the subject a month ago, and it set the mental wheels turning. Tracey @ Adventure Awaits had a guest blog post on the 4 Elements of a Good Villain, Victoria Grace @ Wanderer’s Pen wrote two great posts – one on writing good Antiheroes and one on the importance of writing Good Vs Evil. Also, I recently read V. E. Schwab’s Vicious!

All of these posts made for great reading and discussions, and set me thinking – Antihero, Villain, Antagonist – all of those terms are used, sometimes interchangeably, out on the internet. And there are endless debates on the actually “villainy” of plenty of characters, from Loki (Marvel Universe) to Hannibal Lecter (Hannibal) to Saruman the White (Lord of the Rings). And in all of these discussions, there is a lot of confusion. So what’s a writer to do? Well, the best place to start is the dictionary!

I love words and definitions, so we’ll let Merriam Webster take this. According to the dictionary:

Villain:

1:  villein

2:  an uncouth person :  boor

3:  a deliberate scoundrel or criminal

4:  a character in a story or play who opposes the hero

5:  one blamed for a particular evil or difficulty

It’s actually not the most precise word, is it? Going on our modern definition of “villain,” or someone who does “wrong” things and opposes the story’s hero, a better word might be “malefactor.”

Malefactor:

1:  one who commits an offense against the law; especially :  felon

2:  one who does ill toward another

Middle English malefactour, from Latin malefactor, from malefacere- to do evil

A Malefactor – or someone who intentionally causes harm or evil, is what we’re usually meaning when we use the word “villain.”

Examples would be Sauron (LOTR), Emperor Palpatine (Star Wars), Voldemort (HP), Iago (Othello), or the Joker (Batman). These characters may or may not be nuanced, they may be tragic and even sympathetic, but at their root, they cause intentional evil to those around them. In other words, a true villain is a god unto themselves, a person who believes in no higher or more moral/spiritual authority than themselves and their own desires.

And I don’t mean believe in the “I believe chairs are real,” sense. I mean believe in the “believe/am convicted that this entity or idea outside of myself is greater/higher than me, and should be regarded when I make decisions.”

So what is an antagonist?

Antagonist:

one that contends with or opposes another :  adversary, opponent

From antagonize – Greek antagōnizesthai, from anti- +agōnizesthai to struggle, from agōn contest — more at agony

Rather different from a “villain,” isn’t it? Basically, an antagonist is someone who struggles against or opposes someone.

If we’re rewriting Star Wars with Darth Vader as the main character, then Luke and Obi Wan Kenobi are both antagonists. They contend with Vader, and directly oppose his point of view. So while an antagonist can be a villain, not every antagonist is evil.

Which brings us to antiheroes.

Antihero:

a protagonist or notable figure who is conspicuously lacking in heroic qualities

That’s a little vague, so let’s look at the root words – anti, or “against” from Middle English < Latin < Greek, prefix meaning “opposite”

Add this to hero – “man of superhuman strength or physical courage,” from Greek heros demi-god”, originally defender, protector,” from PIE root *ser- to watch over,protect (cf. Latin servare “to save, deliver, preserve, protect;” see observe).

So an antihero would basically be anyone who does the opposite of the “heroic” actions, or who (like our definition above), lacks the classical attributes of a hero (such as courage, selflessness, integrity, honesty, etc.)

However, in modern literature, this term also encompasses any nonstandard hero (including some characters that might be more properly categorized as villains). An antihero is always the hero/protagonist of their own story, which makes them the exact opposite of an antagonist. However, like antagonists, antiheroes are not necessarily evil.

Okay, now that we’ve looked at the technical differences between these terms, what makes a good villain, antagonist, or antihero? Let’s look at some examples.

In Star Wars, Emperor Palpatine may “believe” in the Jedi, the “Light Side of the Force,” and that those things are real – but he sees them as invalid. For him, whether the Jedi’s morals are right or wrong is unimportant – he is ruled only by himself and his perception of The Force. This makes him a classic villain, or malefactor – someone who sets himself up as the only right, and tramples others in his path.

Granted, Palpatine isn’t the most memorable or chilling villain, so here’s a second example. Wilson Fisk (Netflix Daredevil series) is one of the most terrifying and effective villains I’ve ever encountered. But what makes him such a good villain? Well, for starters, he’s a character, and his story is extremely important to the overall narrative.

(Disclaimer: the scene below is appropriate for all ages, but note that Daredevil is a mature show that isn’t suitable for all audiences)

The voiceover is from an article that reporter Ben Urich was writing about Fisk, challenging Fisk to “step into the light,” and answer for his crimes. But there are a few serious problems.

For starters, Fisk has left no clues behind that will point to him. The atrocities he’s committed, and the terrible people he’s worked with, can’t be traced to him. Also, Fisk believes 100% that he’s right at this part in the narrative. He views himself as a hero, and Matt Murdock (Daredevil) as a villain who would destroy Hell’s Kitchen.

Fisk is convicted about the crime and decay of the city, he loves his girlfriend Vanessa deeply, he has an artistic soul, and his backstory is both tragic and sympathetic. But none of this excuses his behavior. He uses all sorts of criminals and gangs to do his work, keeping his hands “clean,” and there is no moral line he will not cross in his pursuit of his goal. To Fisk, as long as he wins, and reshapes Hell’s Kitchen in his own fashion, he will do anything.

That becomes a major difference between him and Matt, and a defining characteristic of the series. While Daredevil has doubts, trials, moral lines, and dilemmas, Fisk does not. He is a self-proclaimed deity in all but name, and he answers to no one but himself, regardless of who suffers the consequences. By the end of the series, Fisk is a true malefactor – or one who both commits crimes against and hurts others, in pursuit of his own desires.

When you’re writing a villain, whether he/she is the protagonist of your novel, or opposing the hero, you need to make sure that they’re as completely developed as the main character.

If you watched the Daredevil clip above, you’ll notice something very important to a truly terrifying villain: Fisk twists the truth and speaks it back, with an uncanny resemblance to what Ben (the reporter) was saying about him. Fisk is an “angel of light” villain, or someone who sounds/looks/seems good, but has depths of depravity/wickedness that aren’t visible at first. Fisk says all the right things, and in the public eye, does all the right things. He seems like a good man. But there’s a lot more to his character.

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you’re developing your villain’s character:

  1. What do they want most, and how far will they go to get it?
  2. Why do they want it?
  3. How do they view the people around them?
  4. How do their goals influence how they treat the people around them?
  5. What truly puts them in conflict with the hero/protagonist?
  6. Does your character masquerade as (or believe he/she is) one of the good guys? Did they start with good intentions?
  7. Who is their ultimate authority?

Let’s move on to antagonists.

Antagonists are supporting characters that oppose the protagonist and move the story along, usually prodding the main character into action with their alternate viewpoints.

All of the villains mentioned above are antagonists as well, because they oppose the protagonists. Still, there are plenty of antagonists that are either morally superior to the protagonist, or at the very least, not evil. Some examples include the detective L (Death Note), the fairies in the Artemis Fowl series, both Captain America and Iron Man in the Civil War comic arc (Marvel), or Buzz Lightyear in the movie Toy Story.

In The Last Coffee Shop, my protagonist Mads is taken hostage by Luc the bounty hunter, who is the primary antagonist of the book. However clouded Luc’s motives are, he means no harm to Mads – he just gets in the way of her plans. And that’s another major function of the antagonist. They often provide frustration of the MC’s plans or prospects (like Lady Catherine in Pride and Prejudice).

Still, whether an antagonist is an outright villain or not depends on the story.  In many books and movies, a character who is an antagonist or villain will have a redemptive, positive character arc that results in their joining the hero’s side/making the correct decision. Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender), Itachi Uchiha (Naruto), or the original T 101 Terminator (Terminator), are all examples of this type of character. And speaking of Naruto, Pain-Nagato is a classic antagonist that fulfills both of these definitions.

(SPOILER WARNING: Spoilers for Naruto Shippuden Season 8, or Chapters 413-453 of the manga from here on)

When you first meet Pain, he’s a godlike figure determined to fix the world by removing all ninja from it. This will kill a lot of people, but presumably stop all wars by doing so. Pain’s motives are good – he wants world peace – but his execution is terrible.

For those of you that are unfamiliar with Naruto, I’ll give you some context. Pain-Nagato has been the major antagonist (though the characters didn’t know this) for a loooong time now, sending people after Naruto and wreaking general havoc. However, the action finally comes to a head in a climactic confrontation between Pain-Nagato and the Konoha ninja. By this point in the story, Naruto has lost his mentor/father figure Jiraya (the Pervy Sage mentioned in the clip), and many of his friends to Pain-Nagato and his goons. So Naruto has reasons for revenge, but it’s very interesting how this plays out. Pain-Nagato and Naruto have a one-on-one conversation, and we see if all of Pain’s antagonism will cause Naruto to “fall” by choosing revenge and the normal “ninja route,”or will Naruto be able to find a different path?

Watch this pivotal scene from Naruto Shippuden, and you’ll see what I mean:

“Words of forgiveness come easy. Love does not.” Man, I love that line. But that’s beside the point – do you see how Pain-Nagato baits and plays Naruto, riling him (Naruto) up and egging him on?

(NARUTO SPOILERS END HERE :P)

A good antagonist always causes the Protagonist to move forward in the plot. Whether that means a “fall from grace” or a character progression really depends on the story. But a fully fledged antagonist has their own motives and complete character arc as well – and they are affected by the MC’s arc. (For example, in Naruto, Naruto’s final words and actions not only impact Pain-Nagato, but everyone around them).

For an antagonist to have impact – their choices have to be nearly equal or equal to the importance of those of the MC.

And this brings us to our last definition – The Antihero.

I won’t drone on as long about this character type (and you should definitely read Victoria’s excellent post), because most people are familiar with them. However, I will use two of my favorite examples: Light Yagami (Kira) from Death Note, and Dean Winchester from Supernatural.

These two young men couldn’t be more different, but they’re both antiheroes and (one of the) main protagonists of their respective series. We’ll start with Light.

Light is introduced as a morally upstanding, scholarly, brilliant student. He’s a model son, and he’s very sure of right and wrong. But when he finds the Death Note*, Light suddenly has power to change the world.

 *(The Death Note is a notebook that belongs to a "death god." If it falls into the human world, it belongs to the person who finds it, and any name they write in the note will cause the death of the named person)

Light, with his strong morals, feels that he is the perfect person to hold life and death in his hands, and he quickly begins to “execute” criminals by writing their names in the note.

Now you or I might see problems right off, but hang with me for a minute. Surprisingly, Light makes some very convincing arguments, and he has a lot of charisma. You find yourself hoping he won’t get caught almost as much as you hope he will get caught! However, this kind of godlike power quickly goes to Light’s head.

Image not mine – quotes from Death Note – found here

As detectives close in (particularly the sketchy, eccentric “L”), Light gets more and more corrupted and indiscriminate about the people he kills. And every time he takes a life, he become more immune to his actions. After all, he doesn’t have to actually deal with doing the deed himself. It’s all very neat and removed. So ultimately, though Light believes in right and wrong, and that evil should be punished, he is the ultimate moral authority on his own actions. But he’s still the protagonist of the series, making him an antihero (or a non-conventional hero). You’ll have to read the manga or watch the anime to see what happens, but it’s a very cleverly constructed story that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Dean Winchester, on the other hand, could not be more different from Light. Dean is rough-edged, violent, under educated, and frequently boorish. He has low tastes, and he is perfectly happy with himself (at least early on). He’s as far from the classic “hero mold” as you can get without having an outright malefactor. So what makes him an antihero? Despite all of the above, Dean frequently makes the moral choice when the going gets tough.

Image not mine, found here

If there is a child in danger, Dean will risk his life for them. If saving his brother means losing his own life, he’ll do it in a heartbeat. If stopping innocent deaths means doing something horrible like crawling into a ghoul nest or luring monsters to himself, Dean will do it with little hesitation. Even if he makes bad choices, or does terrible things, he is usually driven by his love for his brother (or his friends), and his desire to save others.

In a nutshell: regardless of Dean’s inclinations or motives, when he has to choose between doing the right (non self-serving) thing or walking away, he eventually chooses the right (harder) choice. This is what makes him an antihero – a non-conventional hero who does the right thing when it counts.

The one thing that villains, antagonists, and antiheroes all have in common is a strong, driving motivation, and a completely developed character.

While they may cross over into the same thing, they are distinct, different words. And ultimately, when crafting any character, you have to ensure that they have a complete arc that is pivotal to the story.

This is probably redundant, but I believe you can’t ask it enough: what does your opposing side/force/character want from the world, and how does that put them in the way of your protagonist?

As long as your characters are well-rounded characters first, with motives, stories, and consistency, then it doesn’t matter which role they play. I’m sure you’ll pull them off well 🙂

So what do you think makes a good villain, antagonist, or antihero? Do you think it’s important that we use precise language, or do you not really care about definitions? What are some of your favorite examples of these types of characters?

TTT: Top 10 Books That Cracked Me Up

Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish
Copyright : The Broke and the Bookish

This week’s Top Ten Tuesday (hosted by The Broke and the Bookish) was too awesome to resist! I love to laugh, as I’ve mentioned before, and there is nothing better than a funny book. Well, except a book that is funny AND really well written. On the other hand, I tend to laugh at things that *shouldn’t* be funny. Morbid humor, parody, and sarcasm = me in a nutshell.

Top 10 Books That Cracked Me Up (with gifs, because, why not?)

1. Monstrous Regiment by Terry Pratchett

It goes without saying that any Terry Pratchett book is hilarious. And while Reaper Man made me laugh pretty hard, only Monstrous Regiment has made me laugh so hard I cried. If you have ever read a fantasy (or historical fiction) novel with the heroine disguised as a man, then at least part of this book will make you laugh. After all, it’s mainly about a group of women, disguised as men. Oh, and half of the women are also monsters, disguised as human. And there is one man, by the way, and he’s the only one who convinces anyone he’s a woman when they’re all, you guessed it, disguised as women later on. Confused yet?

2. Howl’s Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones

Howl’s drama was one thing that is consistent with both movie and book

Another obvious one – but it’s that funny. From Howl’s dramatic antics, to Sophie’s asides, there’s a reason I reread this one when I’m having a bad day. All of Jones’ novels are pretty funny, but the only one that comes close to HMC’s level of hilarity is The Dark Lord of Derkholm. If you haven’t read it – it’s a parody of fantasy novels, that is a fantasy novel, that manages to make some very good points along the way.

*pathetic*

3. The Silver Linings Playbook by Matthew Quick

One of the parts in the movie that was accurate

While the movie was pretty funny (if rather foul-mouthed), the book is about 50 thousand times more hilarious (and heartbreaking – but equally foul-mouthed). Pat is one of the most interesting, sweet, silly, and unique narrators of any adult novel. He had me alternating between laughing and crying so many times that it was a testament to Matthew Quick’s skill as a writer. Never has Kenny G been so funny, yet so freaky . . .

Another pretty accurate part ;P

4. Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh

Despite the fact that Brosh is (also) sometimes a little foul-mouthed for me, there’s no denying that Hyperbole and a Half is hysterical. From the odd little drawings to the endless musings on the perfection of cake, these comics are relatable and laugh-out-loud funny.

And yes – Brosh is the source of this meme

5. The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

This might not be the obvious Gaiman pick, but it made me laugh the hardest. From the sly observations, to the cheeky prose, The Graveyard Book walks the fine line between hilarious and chilling. It’s also heartwarming, despite the fact that most of the characters are ghosts.

6. Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

-That feeling when you die before the save point-

Before there was Sword Art Online, there was a snide little book about a teenage girl who got stuck in a VR fantasy world. She also had to win to escape – but it was a lot less glamorous. Heir Apparent was another book I picked up on vacation when I was a teenager. It’s not the most profound or best written book ever, but it’s still just as funny. Look out for a hilarious parody of every fantasy character type ever. My particular favorite is Sister Mary Ursula – the mystic devotee of everything, who spends a lot of time yakking about becoming one with, uhm, everything. But there are warrior girls in impractical outfits, dangerous princes, deadly barbarians, and lots, and lots, of failures as the heroine tries to beat a ridiculous game.

7. Every book in the Squire’s Tales Series by Gerald Morris

I referenced The Savage Damsel and the Dwarf in a previous list – and while that book is hilarious, the rest of the series is also very funny. From trope trolling to much-needed sense in the King Arthur narrative, Morris does a fantastic job of retelling these stories. There are fairies, knights in disguise, knights who take vows of silence (which he talks about endlessly), and loads of fair (?) maidens. There are sword fights and romances, and lots of absurd lines. Why haven’t you read one yet?

It’s like if the funniest bits of Monty Python were collected in a less crude book

8. Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

I’ve mentioned how much I love this play before, so I’ll be brief: it’s really funny, and you should read it often. And the movie versions are all pretty good!

He isn’t in love – he has a toothache. Obviously.

9. The Rook by Daniel O’Malley

Imagine waking up with no memory, surrounded by bodies, with a strange letter telling you that you were a high-level supernatural operative, and someone wants you dead. That’s exactly what happens to Myfanwy Thomas. It doesn’t sound funny – but it’s the start of a hilarious yet suspenseful adventure yarn that is also one of the strangest books I’ve ever read. The part where they try to read the oracle – SO FUNNY! Better still, the sequel FINALLY comes out this June!!

10. Fruits Basket by Natsuki Takaya

Ohhhh Haru . . .

The anime is funny, but the manga is even better. The characters range from quirky to downright terrifying – but they’re all pretty hilarious. It’s amazing how mangas can jump from cute to terrifying to hilarious to crazy and back again in a matter of pages . . .

Honorable mentions – The Time Paradox, Piratica, Adulthood is a Myth, Naruto, The Thief, On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness . . .

Have you read any of these books, or do you plan to read them? What is one of the funniest books you’ve ever read?

A Brief Update on Knight of the Blue Surcoat

“Houston – we have a release date”(partially) . . .

Most of you probably know that I have a novel coming out this summer (screams inside every time she writes that)

Okay – maybe it’s not quite like winning an Oscar – BUT IT FEELS LIKE IT
Anyhow, I finally have a month – Knight of the Blue Surcoat is scheduled for release in AUGUST 2016. I’m still waiting to hear back on the exact date, but we are closer. Excuse me while I go off to do an excited dance . . .
B.A.P, everyone

There – now that I’m back – a few details:

  1. Any Advance Reader Copies should be available as soon as the layout is done. If you are a blogger/reviewer and are interested in reading a YA King Arthur retelling in exchange for an honest review, get in touch with me through the comments form. If I’ve already talked to you about this, I’ll contact you with details as soon as I have them. Savvy?
  2. PDF Advance copies are my publisher’s preferred format – just so you know. If this is a problem, make sure to tell me 🙂
  3. If this sounds interesting to you, but you have no idea what I’m talking about – Knight of the Blue Surcoat is a historical adventure fantasy about King Arthur’s daughter.

Here’s the synopsis (again, for some of you):

Being King Arthur’s daughter isn’t easy, but being his only heir is a nightmare. Sixteen-year old Melora has struggled with her role ever since her older brother was trampled to death in a hunting accident. Her father raised her to be a warrior queen, but Melora is too valuable to be allowed to test herself beyond the castle walls. She is trapped, surrounded by suitors who want her kingdom, and suffocated by her parents’ love. She wants to escape, but how can she leave when even the sight of a horse makes her paralyzed with fear?

Prince Orlando is expendable. His arrogant brothers and distant father were thrilled for him (and his prize stallion) to leave tiny Thessaly. Orlando heard tales of Arthur’s court, where men are measured by their worth. He came to prove himself; he didn’t plan on Melora. Her fear of horses is a challenge Orlando is willing to take, but befriending the princess earns him powerful enemies, including the wizard Merlin and Melora’s many suitors.

When Merlin curses Orlando to eternal imprisonment in the Celtic Otherworld, only Melora can save him and break the curse. But first, she’ll have to get on a horse. Melora travels from British shores to the coast of India on a madcap quest to find the keys to unlocking Orlando’s prison. Melora must overcome warriors, outsmart kings, and face her deepest fears if she wants to get Orlando out alive. Even if she can break the curse, will there be anything of Orlando left to save?

Sound like something you’d be interested in? See above ^^

This is a long shot, but I am planning to hold a launch party at the story I work at (in West Michigan), so if anyone reading this is nearby, be advised. For the rest of you, I plan on doing a blog count down and other fun activities as I have time, so stay tuned!!
Just when you thought you’d escape without a Bigbang gif . . .

I couldn’t be more excited, and thanks to everyone who has already shown so much interest and given so much support!!!

Give yourself a hand

 

Meet The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar & Grill (Character Profiles from my WIP)

You may (or may not?) have noticed that I have been rather absent. The end of March and April (so far) have had me running around like a headless chicken.

Both jobs are getting busier as we careen toward summer traffic, and it leaves little time for blogging, much less thinking. Still, I’ve been plugging away at a read-through/preliminary edit of The Last Coffee Shop, and I still love it, so that’s good. Also, I’ve been getting some more words down and groundwork for my current WIP, Red as Blood.

Red as Blood was also the book I used for the March Beautiful People link-up. In that post (read it here), I introduced the main character and narrator of the story, Sull. He’s a runaway teenage (former)model who ends up in the alley behind the only place to get real fried chicken in the galaxy: The Henpecked Bar & Grill. The Henpecked is run by seven (former) warrior women who decide to give Sull a job in the kitchens, and the rest is, well, the story of Red as Blood. It’s comic space opera meets slice of life diner story meets my generally ridiculous fairy tale retellings saga.

Anyhow, seven important supporting characters = a lot to juggle, so I thought some character profiles could help me hammer out more of their seven distinct personalities. I won’t bore you with lots of facts, but I will give you some basic bits on each “sister” and a picture that suggests what they might look like.

Introducing: The Seven Sisters of Henpecked Bar & Grill

Sister #1: Marjorie Pierce (Doctor Pierce)

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Dame Judi Dench – a major Doc inspiration – taken from this article

Nickname: The Doctor.

Yes, otherwise known as Doc, or just Boss. While she isn’t a Timelord (sadly, a trademark), Doc is indeed, a medical practitioner. Despite her healing tendencies, she’s a vicious warrior in her own right. And you’d have to be a strong personality to have all of the following women submit to your rule (a loving dictatorship). She’s a motherly figure, though she never had any children of her own (though there are rumors of a scandalous, tragic love affair in her youth . . .)

Age: A lady never tells – but she’s north of 40 and south of 60

Occupation: Manager/Owner of Henpecked Bar & Grill

Birthplace: She never talks about it

Height: 127 cm            Weight: You’re joking, right?     Race: Human

Weakness: Orphans of any species

Weapon of Choice: Bola

Likes: Feeding People, Sharpening weapons. Being Needed.

Dislikes: Whining and Complaining. Inefficiency.

Favorite Food: Fried Chicken and Biscuits with Gravy and Strong, Black Coffee – and Chocolate Cake. She’s not a health nut . . .

Marjorie is the first person to meet Sull in the narrative, and she (presumably) takes a shine to the battered, skinny boy with haunted eyes and too pretty of a face. He needs food.

Sister #2: Jian (she has no family name that she speaks of)

This beautiful Yi woman is a lot like what I picture.

Nickname: Dumpling

Jian’s people were shunned and persecuted for hundreds of years after they left their home planet and countries. Most of them barely scraped out livings as cooks and servants for richer survivors. They were known as “dumplings,” a derogatory term that is frowned upon in modern galactic society. Nevertheless, Jian’s wicked sense of humor, beauty, skill with numerous weapons, and excellent cooking skills found her a place as a highly sought after assassin. Of course, that was in her younger days. Now she rules the kitchens of Henpecked, and in a nod to all of the fools people who underestimated her and her people, she calls herself Dumpling.

Age:  46

Occupation: Head Chef, Prime Cook at Henpecked Bar and Grill

Birthplace: The mining colonies of Lai’ren

Height: 140 cm               Weight: 53 kg (ish)                   Race: Human

Weakness: Shiny pots and cooking utensils. Cooking stores.

Weapon of Choice: Her fists for contact. Poison otherwise.

Likes: Cooking. Polishing Silver. Fishing. Filleting . . . things

Dislikes: Sloppy housekeeping. Bullies.

Favorite Food: Spicy Hot Pot. Cinnamon rolls (hers are divine)

Dumpling is the kindest to Sull when they take him in. After all, he needs food, and her cooking is addictive. And while she runs a tight ship of a kitchen, she doesn’t mind helping hands. She’s also the most open of the sisters, easily sharing her skills with a scrappy boy.

Sister #3: General Ayan Stonefist (a last name given to her-not her actual surname)

Afambo afar girl Ethiopia

Photo Credit: Eric Lafforgue

(The General looks a lot like the girl above, just older, and she refuses to wear bright colors)

Nickname: The General.

Don’t be fooled by her small stature. If you refer to her by her real name, she will take you to the alley for your cheekiness. You’ll be lucky if you can walk out again. Due to her past, she never actually introduces herself by her name anyhow, but it’s a fair warning! Other than that she has one of the best tactical minds of the last century, and it’s a mystery why she’s working at an out-of-the-way food joint. Actually, most everything about her is a mystery, and she’d prefer it stay that way.

Age:  early forties (or so the Sisters guess)

Occupation: Assistant Manager of Henpecked Bar & Grill. But that’s just what it says on paper.

Height: 135 cm                  Weight: Unknown                        Race: Human

Weakness: *whispers* Don’t even tell her we asked.

Weapon of Choice: Throwing knives or a good spear

Likes: Order, cleanliness, and quiet. Sharp blades. Maps. Dogs.

Dislikes: Bad manners. Insubordinate people. Disorder. Cats.

Favorite Food: Strawberries (she has a surprising sweet tooth)

Of all of the sisters, Ayan is the most reserved and forbidding. However, she exudes calm and excels at managing diverse and difficult personalities. Sull tries to avoid her as much as possible, yet he admires the way she carries herself – as if she’s twenty feet tall and all corded muscle – anyone in her way will be ten feet under . . .

SISTER #4:Leila-May

I pictured mid-thirties Olivia Newton John from the start. Just look at that charming, innocent (?) grin

Nickname: Shortcake

Leila-May has a sunny personality to go with her bouncy golden curls and big blue eyes. But she seldom talks about her past, and no one ever remembers what happened to her last boyfriend(s) or pets. Despite her talkative, vivacious nature, she’s hard to get to know and she can get away without telling you anything about herself. Still, you can’t help being charmed by her good looks and great smile. Whether this is a good thing or not . . . that’s a chance you’ll have to take.

Age: 38, but she looks around 10 years younger

Occupation: Head Waitress and Hostess

Height: 144.7 cm       Weight: 40.83 kg          Race: Human

Weakness: Good looks, in general. Anything cute.

Weapon of Choice: Charm – and failing that, a garrote vil

Likes: Anything cute, pretty, or attractive. Romantic vacations.

Dislikes: Complainers, demanding people, boring days. 

Favorite Food: If it’s tiny and artfully prepared, she’ll eat anything. She’s particularly partial to gizzards, which surprises almost everyone.

Shortcake loves Sull instantly – she thinks he’s absolutely “precious.” But considering her bad history with pets (she brings them home if they’re cute, and then forgets them . . .), she quickly forgets his existence. However, if you remind her, she’ll gush about how adorable he is. “And such a diligent child, always busy working.”

SISTER #5:Eliza Batbayar

from badassoftheweek.com
Give her a cyborg eye and right arm, make her older,  and yessss, perfect

Nickname: Lizard (or Deadeyed Lizzy)

With a nickname partially derived from her name, and partially derived from the fact that she always looks asleep, Lizard is the watchful bartender of Henpecked. She has robotic parts from a horrific incident in her past, but she’s turned this to her advantage. She still holds the record for the most live bounties taken in Sector 3. Like the rest of the sisters, she rarely talks about her past. However, she makes no secret of her identity as Deadeyed Lizzy (given partly because she has a cyborg eye, and partly because she’s never been known to miss a shot).

Age: 35

Occupation: Bartender, Waitress

Height: 152.4 cm                  Weight: 46.2 kg   Race: Human/Cyborg

Weakness: She’s actually pretty nice, and she’d rather avoid conflict.

Weapon of Choice: Alongside a weaponized arm that can fire various projectiles, she also has a trusty set of pistols that no one is allowed to touch. And she can hit anything with them.

Likes: Mixing drinks, talking to patrons, exchanging capture stories.

Dislikes: Baking. Small talk. False fronts and dishonesty.

Favorite Food: She’ll eat anything, but she’s partial to anything with a lot of vegetables, and she prefers salty to sweet.

Despite her formidable reputation, Lizard is the most open to teaching Sull some self-defense know-how. She’s a hard but fair teacher, and she doesn’t ask questions. Still, Sull never allows himself to forget how dangerous Lizard, or any of the sisters, really are.

SISTER #6: Teral of Min

copyright – DajaBeeSensei – deviantart.com

Imagine something like above ^^, but with long pointed ears, yellow eyes, and navy skin. And redder hair. Also, she has a respirator.

Nickname: Red

Standing just above 4ft tall, Red is the shortest of the sisters. But that doesn’t make her the safest. Red is one of the last of the Minuerans, a race of small, humanoid aliens that are known to be masters of stealth and assassination. Despite her unusually red hair, Red would have lived up to all of that. Unfortunately, she is also allergic to almost everything that grows outside of her homeworld. Red wears a respirator at all times to help her breath the unfamiliar air and avoid reactions. This doesn’t stop her from sneezing constantly. But no one dares to call her sneezy, and for good reason . . .

Age:  Around 30 in human years

Occupation: Waitress, Host, Busser

Height: 124.5 cm     Weight: 31.7 kg  Race: Minueran

Weakness: The environment

Weapon of Choice: Though her sneezing and respirator always herald her arrival, her small size, brute strength, and light feet make her a different kind of danger. She likes to trip her opponents, and then finish them off with the infamous Minueran spiked club.

Likes: Human food, which she is highly allergic to

Dislikes: Flowers, as she is highly allergic to them.

Favorite Food: Biscuits and gravy, which, you guessed it, she’s allergic to.

Red is mostly indifferent to Sull. As far as she’s concerned, he’ll have to earn his keep before he becomes worth noticing. Still, if he wants tips on how to take on a much bigger opponent, she’s a real pro and she likes to talk about it.

SISTER #7: Mollie

I picture her as looking a lot like Morena Baccarin in The Red Tent ^^

Nickname: Mollie IS her nickname

Mollie is the unplanned child of a human and an alien. She was taken in by warrior priests, friends of her father. However, she is artistic and dreams of opening a shop or gallery in a big, fashionable city. Though she is a passable fighter, her heart isn’t in it, and she ran away from her army-school-temple as a teenager. She fell in with The Doctor soon after, and she has followed the older woman ever since. Mollie’s real name- Machlah – was hard for her superiors to pronounce. Mollie stuck, but she’s sore about it (why doesn’t she get a fun nickname)

Age:  23

Occupation: Girl of All Work

Height: 157.5 cm           Weight:  52.6 kg          Race: Half human/half alien

Weakness: Daydreams too much to focus

Weapon of Choice: She prefers to make art, not war, but don’t be fooled: she’s skilled in several martial arts, and those elegant hatchets in her hair . . . they’re fully operational.

Likes: Fashionable clothes and accessories. Art.

Dislikes: Rough culture, bad manners, hard living.

Favorite Food: Pastries

As the youngest, the tallest, and a half-blooded outcast, Mollie immediately sympathizes with Sull. However, he isn’t looking for an annoying surrogate older sister. Still, she’s enamored with the life he left, or what little hints he drops, and she is determined to be his friend. And what Mollie wants, Mollie usually gets.

WHEW – that was a lot of characters. Hopefully you didn’t get lost (if you made it this far!).

What are your impressions of “The Sisters”? Any one that stood out to you? Do you think you’d like to work with them, or is Sull in big trouble?

 

Monthly Wrap-Up: March 2016 – a Month Where a Lot Happened That Was Not Blogging

I can’t believe it’s April. (I mean, you’d think I would, because I’ve said something similar every month for, I don’t know, a year?)

But yeah, March. Over. *looks vaguely bewildered*

Monthly Wrap Up is hosted by Nicole @ Feed Your Fiction Addiction, and instructions on how to join are here.

I’m getting around to the Monthly Wrap Up late as usual.

A legitimate representation of me

The biggest thing on the blog in March was THAT I MOVED IT. I have this shiny new site and I couldn’t be happier with it. Everyone has had such lovely comments about the new look, so thanks guys!

In March, I also:

  • Introduced Sull, the MC of my newest WIP, Red as Blood, for this month’s Beautiful People.

I decided that I wanted to write as an angsty teenage guy, and listen to all of the same music I did as an angsty teen (with the addition of copious amounts of G-Dragon <3). It also reminded me that Castle of Glass (Linkin Park) never got enough love.

I’ve already finished one (The Wise Man’s Fear), which I read as a buddy read with fellow blogger/fantasy author Sara Letourneau (it was a ton of fun, and motivating – thanks Sara!!)

SO EXCITED.

I added pertinent quotes, and let myself gush a bit about why these gems need other people to appreciate them 🙂

  • -And then I stole a tag (mainly as an excuse to use all the gifs I’d been hoarding) – and wrote a bit about my “writing process”- Behold, the #WritersLife tag!

  • -Just when I thought you’d never get another sensible, non-gif filled post out of me ever again, I decided to write an extremely sensible (for me) post on Writing What You Know.

All told, that’s 6 posts, which I’ll take with a smile. Between work, work, work, and moving the blog, I was surprised that I got anything up at all!

On Other People’s Blogs:

I always read quite a few posts (as it’s much faster than writing a post!), but I don’t always comment. I skipped around the blogosphere a lot this month, and I discovered some great posts. Here are a few highlights –

Off the Blog:

Well, I was rather down in the dumps in February (despite my general tendency to laugh at everything) – and I probably should have had my debit card confiscated. What does that have to do with March? Err – all the random stuff I purchased from overseas showed up this month. If you don’t know how exciting it is to get a package from Japan (or anywhere that isn’t in the US), I’ll give you a hint –

Kirito (L) = Everyone else. Asuna (r) = Me
It feels like this
So, thanks to the buying-binge of February, I have A LOT of Cds . . .

20160401_225816

And this – I’m still baffled by it, tbh.

Screenshot 2016-04-04 17.20.25

Errr – it’s this intense random thing with a dvd, a calendar, a poster, weird card things that confuse me, and a photo book with 2 billion photos. What am I even supposed to do with it? (And I can hear you all saying, “don’t look at me, you’re the one who bought it!”) I did find one use for the photo book though – my sister and I used it as a makeup guide! Nifty.*

20160401_230057

*Who’d have thought?

I also have a cute dress from the UK . . . but I digress.
So March was Music Madness. And of course, work madness. Two jobs take a lot out of my energy levels AND time, but it’s been nice to bump my savings back up a bit (despite the buying binge of February).

Other than working (and reading The Wise Man’s Fear), I started a whole pile of other books, including H is for Hawk. It’s very well-written and it’s a fascinating subject, but I’m only about halfway through so far.

On the writing front, I continued to add details to my plotting/scraps for Red as Blood, and I look forward to working on it in April.

For whatever reason, my sister and I ate out more during March. We discovered Sakura in Grandville – a Japanese restaurant with excellent sushi. However – the night started off with awkward hilarity after the waiter asked for my ID. He squinted at it, and then told me that I didn’t look like the same person – because (and he actually said this) – I wasn’t as pretty as the person in the picture, and we looked different . . . And while I had on my glasses and work bandana, and had no makeup on – I don’t think I looked that different??

What-Excuse-me-Say-what-GIF

 

Anyhow, my sister and I were a little startled, but then we had to focus just so we didn’t explode with laughter in his face. And our waiter – well, he quickly backtracked, and then we could hardly keep straight faces the rest of the time.

WHO SAYS THAT TO A PERSON’S FACE???

Still, on the bright side, I looked young enough to be trying to use someone’s ID. ;P And I haven’t laughed that hard in a long time!

And then – at the very end of March – I came down with a dreadful cold. I did not pull a Howl-esque diva fit over it – I just bought some medicine and slept every free hour. And when I felt too bad, I just watched a bunch of really old BIGBANG videos on Youtube. While the latter part didn’t help much (with the cold), it did help my flagging spirits. So. Funny.

Bigbang in the early days . . . (from Dirty Cash MV)

Ah, the awkwardness of youth . . .

Seriously, they’re still hilarious. (And it helps that I really love their music)

Times change

Okay, maybe not everything has changed, 😛

From “Running Man “- BIGBANG + JongKook as “The Gladiators”
Stay awesome, guys.

Coming in April:

Starting Edit #1 for The Last Coffee Shop. In a departure from my normal haphazard ways, I decided to download Sara’s super helpful editing sheets. We will see if I can stick to this more orderly route.

Oh, and I’m going to go see B.A.P in Concert!!!!

You may remember this band from my songs that should be books post that I did back in February. No? Here’s a video to give you an idea:

So we have to drive to Chicago. That’s closer than most of the bands I want to see will venture!! (On that note, I found that one of my favorite US bands, Fitz and the Tantrums, is actually coming to Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids. Just not until June)

On the blog – we will see! I’ll do Beautiful People, but I’ll probably post as often as my work schedule and erratic internet availability allow me. And hopefully, that will include some book reviews!

I’ve considered doing a few Last Coffee Shop editing posts, but I’m still undecided.

And of course, there’s the general randomness that I produce from time to time 🙂

So how did your March go? Is it still snowing where you are (it is in Michigan!)? Do you have any big plans for April? What was the last book you read?