icon caret-left icon caret-right instagram pinterest linkedin facebook twitter goodreads question-circle facebook circle twitter circle linkedin circle instagram circle goodreads circle pinterest circle

Picturing a World

Villain in the narrative arc

Thanks to Greer Gilman for connecting me to this comment on Donald Trump from Zoe Williams in the Guardian: “There is no story arc for this man, no journey; he can get no better, and we already knew that he could get no worse. So his narrative is broken. He can no longer be the anti-hero of his own film; he can only be the villain in somebody else’s.”

Like Williams, like Gilman, I am revolted by what is happening to our politics, yet I am also delighted by this way of framing the relation of villainy to narrative. It’s a criterion to apply when writing: can my character get better or worse? What role shall the villain play in the narrative arc? A character who cannot possibly change is two dimensional, a stock character, perhaps even an allegorical personification. This clarity can be useful to a plot or theme, but, oh, how much richer are characters for whom we can imagine change, potentiality, a story of their own!
Post a comment