In this delicious exercise, you’re going to learn more about the most difficult character in your story, your villain, by imagining meeting him or her for the first time. So that you feel perfectly safe with this diabolical being, we’re going to assume that he or she does not have it in for you personally. This way, you’ll be able to talk to your villain or obstacle in the same, easy way that you would anybody you were interested in getting to know better.
So, find a nice quiet place, close your eyes, take a deep breath, and imagine yourself in some beautiful setting. Then, when you’re centered and ready, open your eyes and set your timer for five minutes. (I always recommend a pad and pencil or pen, rather than a computer, for this kind of exercise.)
Now, write about the experience of meeting your villain or obstacle, whether it’s at a restaurant, a wedding, a diner, or a picnic. What do you talk about? What do you each order? If you’re in a restaurant, who picks up the check? Or do the two of you go Dutch? Every detail will reveal something important about your villain. How does he or she eat? Table manners can tell us a lot about a person. Describe what happens, if anything, between you and your villain, or between your villain and someone else.
As a reference, I highly recommend watching the scene in the movie Heat where Al Pacino and Robert De Niro discuss how the story is going to end. It’s a perfect example of how the small things often reveal the most about your characters.
So, enjoy this delicious exercise—and bon appétit!
Here’s to Your Successful Writing!
Professor Marilyn Horowitz