On Being the Evil Overlord


That’s me.  Evil Overlord of my characters.

Evil Overlord:  Plans to interfere with his targets’ lives.

Me:  Plan to interfere with my characters’ lives.

Evil Overlord:  Is constantly thinking, “What can I do to cause trouble for these people?”

Me:  “What can I do next to cause trouble for these characters?

Evil Overlord:  “In fact, what can I do to tear them to shreds?”

Me:  In fact, what can I do to make things as difficult as possible?

Evil Overlord:  “HOW SHALL I KILL THEM?”


No, no no.  Wait a minute.  Here’s where we part ways.

For me, it’s How will they get out of it?

What new depths of themselves will they plumb to climb out of this personal disaster I’ve created, possibly while also saving the world?


Because the thing is, as the author, I don’t usually have any idea how they’re going to get out of what I put them into.  I’m so focused on getting them to the point of ultimate internal and external disaster (because, you know, that’s just the way I am) that when I reach it, I often go…

Me:  Uh, durrrr… NOW what are they gonna do?

Storm of ReckoningThe fun thing is how well it often works out.  If you read Storm of Reckoning, you’ll reach a point shortly before the end where…well, where things happen.  Go on, read it.  You’ll know where I mean.  Well, confession:  I didn’t know that was coming until about two pages before I reached it.  It was all, “Ahhhh!  What’s Garrie gonna do?!  How’s Trevarr going to get out of this one?!”  Complete with melodramatic punctuation.

And yet oddly, looking back on it…I don’t know how that scene could have turned out any other way.  Or that I would have wanted it to.

(The very end?  Well, I knew THAT was coming.)

It’s not all just a random power trip, by the way.  It’s not doing unto for the sake of doing unto–

Evil Overlord:  What are you talking about?  Of course it is!  And what a power trip it is!  Mwah ha ha!

*stuffs Evil Overlord into a gunnysack*

It’s NOT.  By pushing my characters to the limit, I’m exploring who they really are…and in a way, I’m showing myself what can be done.  Paving the way for that mindset, so when I reach my own roadblocks in life (an overly-profound phrase if I ever heard one), I don’t buckle or fold.  I don’t exactly think, “What would Garrie/Trevarr do?”–that would maybe be kinda creepy.  But I do fall back into the awareness that how I deal with difficulties–what I envision for myself–has a huge impact on the resolution of those difficulties.

Muffled Evil Overlord:  You are full of crap!  It’s all about the POWER!

Yeah, yeah.  Move over.  My people have a world to save.  Just don’t ask me how.

*wrote this one for my agent’s blog this spring; saved it up for a day that needed a good snicker

About Doranna

My books are SF/F, mystery, paranormal romance, and romantic suspense. My dogs are Beagles, my home is the Southwest, and the horse wants a cookie!
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5 Responses to On Being the Evil Overlord

  1. Adrianne says:

    I really needed to read this Today of all days. Perfect timing!

  2. Doranna says:

    Excellent! The Evil Overlord relies on perfect timing.

  3. Elizabeth says:

    So, so true. We have to be Evil Overlords (up to a point.)

    One thing I noticed this year, writing the midsection of a book under considerable LifeStuff stress, is that when I’m dealing with worse personal stress…I inadvertently back off of stressing the characters. It’s as if my wish to have things settle back down is projected onto the characters and plot. That Will Not Do.

    So the midsection of this book is going to need some really firm revision. (Bwah-hah-hah-hahhhhhh!!!) No, characters, even though this is the penultimate volume, and you’d like to lounge around talking about what happened in III, and resting up for V, that’s not the way this adventure rolls.

  4. BlogPatty says:

    I like having the opportunity to peer into the minds of novelists! A vicarious thrill! And I laughed (out loud) at both the post and the replies!

  5. Doranna says:

    Elizabeth, that’s interesting. I tend to turn up the heat on my characters when I’m stressed–like being forced to face my own stuff brings their stuff into focus.

    Um, not that I want to be tortured or anything.

    Patty–hey, as long as you’re laughing! And not, er, running away…

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