Are my villains coming to life in a believable way? As I edit my novel, I’m concerned that they might up with the emotional range of Flat Stanley or the competence of Wil E. Coyote.
So today I’m going to explore the mind of one of the villains in my story, the chicken farmer, Mazat. The more I know of him, the more dimensions I can give him.
Mazat’s mother died when he was a small child, and he retained few memories of her. He did recall seeing his father beat her on occasion, and order her around, expecting her to fulfill his every whim.
As he grew older, he wondered why they lived outside the village walls, where bandits and warboars could attack. His schoolmates taunted him, saying he was only one step up from a barbaric risker.
Little by little, Mazat’s father let him in on his secrets. It seems years ago, his own father had invented a new chicken feed that made the chickens grow fatter and lay more eggs. Soon everyone wanted to buy only his chickens, and others marveled at the number of eggs he brought to market.
Predictably, the other chicken farmers (not to mention those who raised ducks or geese) became jealous. They complained to the farmers’ guild.
After a hearing, Mazat’s grandfather was ordered to either share the recipe for his chicken feed with the other poultry farmers, or cease using it. Otherwise, it would not be fair. He fought the ruling, but in the end, surrendered the recipe. Then he moved his chicken farm to the location just outside the village walls, to a barn long abandoned after bandits burned it halfway to the ground.
In isolation and bitterness, he raised his son. He taught him to trust no one, to keep the village rulers out of his business. He also taught him how to defend his holdings using a bow, traps, and poisons. Soon the bandits and warboars learned to leave him alone.
Mazat’s father grew up, full of bitterness over the lost wealth that could have been theirs, had they been allowed to keep their chicken feed recipe secret. He inherited his father’s inventive mind, and came up with ways to make chicken farming easier and more productive, but he never let on to anyone. He reasoned if he had to work hard just to stay poor, he’d spend as little time doing it as possible.
Over the years, his eccentricities intensified. He spoke in grunts and delighted in insulting his neighbors. He refused to accept any help from the guild, performing all the carpentry, repairs to his wagon, treating his animals’ illnesses and maintaining his household himself.
Mazat craved his father’s approval, so he adopted every quirk of his father, and shared his intense distrust of the guild and village council, resenting the power they had over his life. He vented his anger on anything weaker than himself: his wife, then his son, and later, the girl Iskra.