Index to Depiction Series:
In Part 28, we looked at the sweeping, long wave of change in science fiction and fantasy genres in how Aliens and Supernatural Beings are depicted, and noted how one crude but unmistakable method of labeling a villain is to tell rather than show. Just make him/her say "...and then I'll rule, forever!" preferably with venom and triumph gleaming.
Villains aspire to RULE. That's how you know they are villains.
Did the Lone Ranger yearn to rule? Does Superman want to rule Earth forever? Did Captain Kirk secretly politic his way to Admiral status so he could step up to rule the Federation?
The Hero has no interest in Ruling.
The Villain wants nothing else but to Rule.
What was it in the character of The Evil Queen (in the TV Series Once Upon A Time) that changed to make her not-evil-anymore?
When she was Evil Queen, she wanted to RULE - when she became Good, she did not hurt people to make them knuckle under. She didn't steal hearts and put them in boxes anymore. That Heart-Stealing bit is a graphic (show don't tell) of a very abstract set of concepts, and it is brilliantly done.
Do humans (maybe Aliens, too?) yearn to Rule people because they Hate those people?
Or is there something more complicated going on?
Remember, the master theme of Romance is Love Conquers All.
In the TV Series Once Upon A Time, they use True Love's Kiss to overcome impossible obstacles of magical origin. True Love's Kiss undoes the most powerful spell.
All Romance is about how Love Conquers All -- so it is up to the writer to create a formidable obstacle for Love to overcome.
One formidable obstacle that has been the plot generating conflict in many of the very best Romances (especially in the Science Fiction or Paranormal Romance) is Hatred.
When the Couple first meets, it is Hate At First Sight. The story experience transforms that hate into love as a series of misunderstandings is unraveled, and the depths of human (and/or non-human) psychology are penetrated. Many of the very best Romances flip Hate into Love.
Love is generally considered the only thing that can dispel Hatred.
There are many psychological studies of affinity and aversion that can be used to plot such a Romance, so the more widely you read, the better you will write.
December 2016, I found an article in Slate
This article, Why Dictators Hate Chess, begs to be studied by those puzzling over the question posed in Depiction Part 28 - why do villains yearn to rule forever? Or rule at all, for that matter? Heros don't yearn to rule - why do villains? What has Ruling to do with Love and Hate?
Notice that Love, Hate - and even Rule - are abstract concepts. Remember that a stage play, TV Series or Movie is a "story in pictures." The task of "Depicting" hatred is the task of making an emotion visible and concrete. So a writer of Romance has to study Hate very closely to understand what the readership will interpret as "That One Is The Villain." Or "That One Is The Obstacle Love Must Conquer."
Make the readers root for the Villain to melt in the bright shaft of love-shine, and you have a winner. This works even in all the other genres. See why every novel needs a love story.
That article in Slate is an interview with the former world chess champion, Garry Kasparov, talking about Vladimir Putin and dictators (rulers) in general.
Note: the USA has a President, not a King, because a President does not rule and has no power to rule (if he obeys the law). The USA does not have a "regime" and Presidents do not "come to power." This is because a President has no power; voters do.
Presidents serve not as decision makers but as managers who create policies to carry out instructions of voters. Presidents are supposed to do what the the majority of voters elected them to do. Kings rule. Rule means make others do what you want, whether they want to or not.
"Want" is an emotion, and like Love, Hate, is very abstract. The writer's job is to make it concrete, a story in pictures depicted in text, in symbols.
Here is Part 4 of the Theme-Symbolism series with links to previous parts.
Here is a quote from the article in Slate:
Garry Kasparov on Vladimir Putin’s meddling and America’s response.
By Jacob Weisberg
Interviewer: That also sounded to me like a chess player’s analysis. You’re the greatest chess player ever. Is Putin playing chess, or is he playing a different game?
Kasparov: No, I always wanted to defend the integrity of my game—when people said, Oh, Putin played chess, Obama played checkers. Putin, as with every dictator, hates chess because chess is a strategic game which is 100 percent transparent. I know what are available resources for me and what kind of resources could be mobilized by my opponent. Of course, I don’t know what my opponent thinks about strategy and tactics, but at least I know what kind of resources available to you cause damage to me.
Dictators hate transparency and Putin feels much more comfortable playing a game that I would rather call geopolitical poker. In poker, you know, you can win having a very weak hand, provided you have enough cash to raise the stakes—and also, if you have a strong nerve, to bluff. Putin kept bluffing. He could see his geopolitical opponents—the leaders of the free world—folding cards, one after another. For me, the crucial moment where Putin decided that he could do whatever was Obama’s decision not to enforce the infamous red line in Syria.
What if this "game" were being played out on a Galactic canvas? What if the Putin-Character were non-human, playing against Earth?
How would humans assess the Character of a Galactic Authority that was not "transparent." What if that Authority abhorred transparency, but had no desire to "Rule" Earth or anything else? Would the veil of mystery be taken as Villainy?
Is Kasparov's assessment of Dictators hating Chess universally valid, or is it a cultural trait that might not turn up everywhere?
Is the burning desire to Rule a certain sign of villainy? Or is that a human thing?
It may be that wherever humans are involved, Ruling = Villainy. Or put another way, absolute power corrupts absolutely. No human is fit to exercise rule over another. Maybe that's not universally true for non-human people -- and therein lies a complex tale.
For humans, though, the it certainly seems that the ambition to Rule, to Conquer and to Win Ruler-ship, is innate in our biology.
See Part 19 and Part 21 of Depicting which discusses how that innate human goal of Ruler-ship is related to Testosterone:
Part 19 - Depicting the Married Hunk With Children (especially daughters) (Testosterone effect)
Part 21 - Depicting Alien History (Testosterone revisited)
This new scientific research on testosterone psychoactive dimension tells us a lot about why humanity self-organizes into hierarchy -- or behind a Leader -- or in allegiance to a King.
When beaten, a man knuckles under to his ruler -- not from cultural custom but from the abating of the biological urge to conquer. When raising his own children, the man's need to take insane risks abates -- we call it maturity.
Not everyone experiences the urge to Rule in equal degrees, but don't forget women also have a need to dominate, to prevail, to get things to go their own way. If that requires Ruling, then Rule She Shall, and she shall enjoy the heck out of it, too.
Consider, Happily Ever After is the innate goal of Romance. After What? After Love Conquers All.
Conquers being the Keyword to ponder, along with "ever after" (i.e. forever).
Both the Villain's Quest and the Lovelorn's Quest are searches for a definitive, permanent, eternal solution to the problem.
The human male seeks to conquer a female. The language of sexuality is fraught with the language of war, conquering, taking, having, getting. The language of Romance is about convincing, wooing, maybe fooling, seducing. The language of Love combines the two.
Love is about conflict, and the satisfactory and permanent settlement of that conflict.
It has been widely proposed that the opposite of Love is not Hate but Indifference.
Love manifests as an affinity, gravitating together, combining.
Hate manifests as a bond, focusing attention, defining goals according to the hated person -- to vanquish that hated person, to conquer or thwart or neutralize that hated and rejected person. Where this is active hatred, there is no fleeing or giving up everything to get away. Fear causes flight. Hatred binds.
Like Love, Hatred comes in thousands of styles and flavors as well as degrees of visibility. Sometimes a person who smolders with hatred doesn't even know the feeling is hatred.
Hate comes in a variety called Baseless Hatred -- where the feeling of being locked in a fight to the death is not caused by the person or situation that is ostensibly hated. There is no objective real-world reason for the feeling, but that feeling dominates and motivates, oblitterating all other purposes in life. Baseless Hatred very easily becomes an obsession detached from all rationality.
People blame external events, other people, random occurrances and situations for their emotions. Not all humans do that, but ways of avoiding it are absorbed by children before they can talk. Where emotions lie on the spectrum of values is a cultural norm, and as far as we now know, not biological in origin.
Baseless Hatred makes a good story dynamic for the Horror Genre, and for Action Genre where the point of the novel is to depict a righteous and sanctioned killing. This is the sort of vanquishing you often see in videogames where you just "kill" anything that gets in your way.
Monsters are motivated by Baseless Hatred.
When writing a "slay the monster" story, you don't have to provide a comprehensible motive for the monster. Nothing the hero did or said has anything to do with why the monster is fixated on killing the hero. And the Hero doesn't hate the monster.
The monster has no power over the Hero, so the Hero does not hate the monster. The monster is just a "force of nature" - a formidable adversary bent on destruction.
The adversary motivated by Baseless Hatred makes a great plot element for Action or Horror genre, but not for Romance.
Baseless Hatred is conquered by Love, but not love of the Monster. Love conquers the Monster by binding the humans into an unbreakable defensive wall. The love of one human for another conquers the Monster.
Once fully consumed by Baseless Hatred, the Monster is irredeemable, but harmless to those who Love. Many good Love Stories revolve around rescuing someone from going down the path of Baseless Hatred. The rescue process resembles the AA 12 step program, or deprogramming someone from a Cult. Those make very potent novels, but rarely produce the best of Romance.
Hatred that is based in reality, in the actions and situations that exist in truth, and that readers can recognize as legitimate causes for hatred, provides a much wider and richer spectrum of plots and stories for Romance writers.
The classic, as mentioned previously, is Hate At First Sight that eventually turns to True Love.
In real life, very often we hate that which has power over us. Love has that kind of power, the power to change our very identity, or sense of self.
When you fall in love, you literally become someone new, someone different.
Humans do fear change, and do fear anything with the power to change them -- hence our fascination with werewolves and shapechangers. Can you "change" so radically and still be you?
We also love novels about how Love At First Sight turns to hatred -- the escape from the clutches of a man you have given yourself to, then discovered he's Bluebeard incarnate.
So the opposite of Love is Indifference -- not feeling any bond at all.
So to depict hate, make sure your Character is deeply bonded, enthralled, captivated, obsessed with the object of hatred.
Depict a cause or basis for that hatred -- and ask what this Character would accept as proof that this "cause" is actually not the problem at all -- that what he/she thought was true is in fact not true. You can't do that with Baseless Hatred -- and you can identify baseless hatred by the non-falsifyable nature of it. Nothing would be a convincing proof that this is not a real source of the problem.
If you're writing Alien Romance, and you want to drive your plot with hate, then consider what makes humans hate (for cause). Build Aliens who are different in that regard.
Consider the two posts on Testosterone in this Depiction Series. A human who is beaten, vanquished, defeated utterly, will lose the desire to hurl himself against the one who defeated him, and will be generally less aggressive.
Among humans, the winner "rules" - the loser knuckles under. Now, if the defeat is not utterly complete, the loser may smolder with hatred, and eventually burst into rebellion.
Is that how it works among your Aliens?
We hate that which rules us - (even sometimes if what rules us is Love!). We just purely hate to "be ruled" -- whether it is forever or not.
Anyone who rules is justifiably hated.
Rulership is hated. It is human to hate having free will thwarted by the will of another.
The Hero knows this, and has no desire to be hated, thus no interest in ruling.
What if Aliens ruled all Earth? Would the Hero rebel? Or would the behavior of the ruling aliens make a difference?
Hate is a bond comparable to Love -- maybe a little less binding, for Love Conquers All.
To depict Hate, don't tell the reader this Character hates that Character. Don't put the word "hate" in dialogue. If someone says out loud, "I hate you," you never believe it. Teens hate their parents -- right? How many times do they say it? How many parents believe it?
To depict hate, show the Character behaving in opposition to what the Character sees as pure Evil, a force loose in the world that must be destroyed, something that must be conquered. Show the Character choosing death rather than submission. The reader will hate that which oppresses that Character.
It's not that simple, of course. It is never simple where humans are involved.
Start into the messy tangle of Character Motivation by finding the target of the hatred, and decide if it is Baseless Hatred or hatred for just cause. Then introduce Love into the dynamic to overcome the hatred.
Do your Characters hate that which they resent? Do they hate that which has power and/or Authority over them? Do they hate that which they are jealous of? Or do they hate that which they admire? Do they see Love as a threat because Love does conquer all? Do they hate God because God has betrayed them by ignoring their entreaties because Ultimate Power should always be kind? If they gain power, do they use it for kindness? Do they hate kindness?
It seems to be in our biology to sacrifice everything to Rule, to be sovereign, to admit nothing in power over us. And it seems we hate anything that has power over us. But just as children need the discipline of their parents, so do we knuckle under to a Ruler, to a dominant power. So it is for humans -- are we a special case in the Galaxy? Ancient Wisdom indicates there are ways for the human spirit to tame the animal spirit -- the ways of Love.
These emotions drive the Story, and the reasons for the emotions drive the Plot. We have discussed theme and plot at length previously.