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We write our books in certain settings, worlds, cultures. They all impose restraints on our characters, which they have to live within, or break, and deal with the consequences.

Last winter, in a moment of frustrated “I don’t have any ideas!” I set out to write something, anything—something I could throw away later without caring.

I wrote a “Mirror Image” story, where my usual Good Guys were bad, and the Bad Guys were good. Yeah, I went Full On “Spock with a goatee.”

It was _really_ fun. My Hero, totally unrestrained. No brakes.

Mind you, being me, I wound up with explanations, and redefined “Bad Guy” in this context.

But I also learned—via my long suffering Beta Readers—that it was a great story.

At eight months remove, I can see that the reason they liked it was that my character threw off all restraints and went full bore to get what he wanted. What _he_ thought was right. _No_ Cultural restraints. To &^%$ with the law. _No_ diplomacy. Totally over the top, full on blood bath, and torture when nothing else worked.

Unpleasant in real life.

Essential in fiction.

Don’t let your characters be hemmed in by convention. Remove their shackles. Let ‘er rip and deal with the consequences later. Take it over the top. Just make sure that what your Character wants, most readers will agree with. And your readers should be positive that the “Other Guys” deserve what they’re about to receive.

And then show the absolute best/worst/bloodiest your Character can be. Throw his heart, his soul, and his body into it. Go to the max . . . then find even more, and get him over the top!

That’s what your readers want.


What character went full Evil Twin? Ra’d, of course! Let’s face it, he’s got the potential. Here’s how it happened in _one_ universe . . .

  1. paladin3001 #


    December 15, 2017
  2. I’m liking the Evil Twin, so far – even if he’s only had a couple scenes so far and Ebsa getting most of the “screentime”.

    December 15, 2017
    • Yeah, I failed to make him evil. He’s merely a mass murdering criminal. 😀

      December 15, 2017
      • For those who are blissfully unaware, I use my site for Alpha readers. It’s a little nervous making to realize that some people actually enjoy watching sausage being made.

        December 15, 2017
  3. In the next Cat book, once I decided that it would be the last in the series, A major plot thread needed to be tied off. And I said, “Chuck it. The Bad Guys want to play hardball? They’ll get hardball. Rada Ni Drako + two Azdhag special forces NCOs in a confined space = the Traders don’t know what hit them… but they will once Rada finishes.

    Kitty don’t play fair. And scares the whey out of a lot of other people in the process (including the author).

    December 15, 2017
    • Ah, that frisson of horror, as you look at the words and say . . . “I am capable of thinking that up?”

      December 15, 2017
      • paladin3001 #

        I need to work on unleashing that “demon” more I think. :p 🙂

        December 15, 2017
      • And that I toned down some of the details when I tidied the chapter a few months later. But then I know what I’ve been tempted to do, when the monster inside almost slipped his chain.

        December 15, 2017
      • “It’s a Good Thing that I am Not Evil.” — me, often after some horrifying idea.

        “Oh, wait.” — others.

        December 16, 2017
        • I’m still reminded of the college professor who was 1) disappointed that the sword I brought with me, live blade and all, was only for the yearbook and 2) I wasn’t going to kill anyone that day, or well, anytime soon. She wanted to watch. “Anyone you decided to kill would be worth killing.”

          I still think that’s one of the best compliments anyone’s ever paid me. I’ve gotten variations of the same over the years, and it’s still humbling to know this opinion folks have of me.

          December 16, 2017
          • Further proof that you have excellent taste! 🙂

            December 16, 2017
            • I found rather interesting the implication that I wouldn’t get someone else to do it for me; getting to that point meant me going “Right. This needs to die, now.” *roll up sleeves, unsheathe sword*

              Which is probably why I enjoyed the first 3 seasons of Dexter. (Which was recommended to me because “This made me think of you, if you were unfettered by your sense of law-abidingness.” House was recommended to me on the strength of “This guy is you, if you weren’t so strict on social niceties.” … except, I eventually ran into the IT version of House. Hehe~

              December 16, 2017
  4. Mike Houst #

    Reminds me of why I liked the old Mack Bolan series. Simple protagonist, the necessary set of special skills, a clear cut black and white view of what’s right and what’s wrong, and no compunctions against violence of any type in removing wrong doers. Stories were pretty much cookie-cutter action adventure, and short enough to finish in a single evening. Beat watching TV in the squadron day room.

    December 15, 2017
    • Roger Ritter #

      Two things about this. The Jack Reacher stories are very similar, and quite popular. Second, I’m reminded of the line from Jethro Tull’s “Broadsword and the Beast”: “Bring me my broadsword, and clear understanding!”

      December 15, 2017
  5. There’s an improv game called “What Comes Next?” where you get the skit to a certain point and then ask the audience for what happens then. Almost invariably, they go straight to ‘what could be the worst thing’ or ‘what could go wrong’, both of which are excellent idea generators.

    December 15, 2017
  6. mrsizer #

    I was so excited!
    Amazon really bummed me out: You purchased this item on February 22, 2015.
    Since I don’t remember buying it, I’ll at least start re-reading it.

    December 15, 2017
  7. Mary #

    I played with Evil Twins in Through a Mirror Darkly. In a different direction.

    December 15, 2017
  8. Draven #

    I read the title and my mental response was “Beg pardon, milady, but I am quite restrained. Were i not, you’d hear about it on CNN.”

    December 16, 2017
    • It works best in a book. Real Life can be so . . . judgmental.

      December 16, 2017

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