Pantzing to Planning: The Villain Presumptuous
by Charlotte Henley Babb
I’ve always been a pantzer, (writing by the seat of my pants) but now I’m learning how to outline a book, making all the decisions ahead of time instead of just seeing where the characters wander off to on their won. This is not my usual way of working, but I’m finding that I have a lot more depth of character this way. Each character has to be designed with his or her motivations, quirks, personality and goals. This is fun. I’m using psychological profiles and tarot readings to access my inner knowing about them.
Today I am working with my villain, a complex guy who has a need for revenge and for recognition. This causes a conflict because he works undercover as a freelance asset, so that he is never recognized outside of the few people who know his secret, his handler, and his handler’s people. He does not know who the big bosses are, but they give him access to the information he wants, so he does their dirty work.
I visualize him as looking like Dennis Quaid, and his code name is Quaid Golden. Since the genre is steampunk, he’d have his top hat, cravat and frock coat, probably in a lush shade of green with a brocade vest of gold. His hair is about this length but much lighter and better groomed, as he is something of a dandy. He has been well-educated but not allowed to be recognized as his father’s son, as his mother was a servant in the household. He has some skill in heavy construction, some artificery and has stolen a piece of tech that he plans to produce and sell, once he gets the money from this job—disabling the airship.
He has daddy issues, and plans to spread his revenge not only on his biological father, but on all the father’s cronies and associates. He thinks that my heroine is part of that network, and she is, but not in the way that he thinks. It remains to be seen if they can be allies somewhere down the road, since neither of them is likely to trust the other, but they share a common enemy.
I haven’t picked out a quirk as yet, but a person with such deep emotional conflicts has to a twitch of some kind, a quick trigger or short fuse in certain circumstances. I’d appreciate any suggestions or thoughts.
250 word Excerpt from 20 Hours to Charles Town.
Why was he still alive? The Red Hares cared nothing for the police, all their brothers and cousins. The Mauvertons struck fear into their black hearts–they wouldn’t leave an agent alive, if they knew. Only O’Sullivan’s people knew the time and the route of the shipment.
They’d never even asked for anything he carried to drop off the wagon, not until today.
He’d never make it back to Mauverton headquarters, right back across Red Hares territory, so the airship was his best bet. No way to send a wire or a runner to the sky port to explain what happened. He’d get to the airship and ask the Madame for her protection. She had a security leak somewhere, which she needed to know.
He needed a ride out of town.
He jogged, staying to the sidewalk. He ran when he could get his breath, and staggered along when he couldn’t. The whiskey should have been delivered by now.
Down the next block, close enough to see the great airship shaped like an elephant, tethered to the top of a five-story warehouse. Impressively silly, it out did P.T. Barnum’s live elephant, and to ride it was far beyond his ways and means, unless they let him work or maybe stow away.
He began to run as best he could, his ribs screaming as loudly as his ragged wheezing.
He would tell her his story, and she would do whatever she would do.
Charlotte Henley Babb began writing as soon as she could hold a piece of chalk and scribble her name. Growing up in the red mud and sweet tea Carolinas, she was a voracious reader with widely diverse interests ranging from the classic folk and fairy tales to sci-fi writers like Terry Pratchett and Robert Heinlein. She brings to any project a number of experiences, including work as a web designer, high school teacher, college instructor, technical writer, gasket inspector, cloth store associate, girl Friday, and telephone psychic.
Her first novel, Maven Fairy Godmother: Through the Veil, won the 2014 Sharp Writ Book Award for Sci-fi/Fantasy and an honorable mention in the 2014 National Federation of Press Women Communications Contest for adult novels.
A dead cellphone calls with a job offer and a promise of dragons.
Imagine if Terry Pratchett sat down with Kathy Bates to make up fractured fairy tales for Edward Everett Horton to read aloud: you’d get MAVEN FAIRY GODMOTHER: THROUGH THE VEIL.
Down and out, Maven Morrigan is ready to give up what’s left of her self-esteem for a cup of coffee when her last chance to redeem her life comes as a job offer to be a fairy godmother. But Faery is shrinking, the other fairy godmothers have disappeared, and nothing she does turns out right. How can she put together the happily ever after each of her clients wants with her boss standing in her way?
MAVEN FAIRY GODMOTHER: THROUGH THE VEIL is fast, fun read that shows that none of us is ever old enough to know better as we try to wish for we think what will make us happy.
Maven’s Fractured Fairy Tales
These three stories were written as I was putting the concept of Maven Fairy Godmother together. I originally planned to make a series of short stories, rather than a novel, but as happens to many authors, my characters took off in their own quests.
These stories happen in the future after the first novel, which turned out to be a prequel published first. Time does not flow in a linear direction in Faery, so the future often happens before the past at least from the perspective of some other space.
These stories are also available separately