Thoughts on Crime, Villains, and Realism

I’ve been promoting my new story The Glencoe Project this week. I have gotten some good feedback on it. It wasn’t all good in the sense of positive, but useful.

Some people suggested that more people would find my story interesting if I added some kind of crime to the story. I suppose that would work, but then that would undermine the message I am trying to convey. I feel that a story about transportation planning can interest people outside the field. I believe there is enough human interest and conflict in transportation planning for people to appreciate the stories. I haven’t found the right approach yet, but I’m confident that it can be done.

One person thought my villain was stupid, which made it harder to see him as a real threat to the hero. I do realize that my villain is something of a cartoon. A while back I wrote the article Don’t Let Your Heroes be Stupid. Maybe I need to write Don’t Let Your Villains be Stupid.  On the other hand, everything he does is based on something I saw or someone else told me about.

It is important that the villain be realistic, but what is realistic? I’ve found that just because something happens in reality, doesn’t make it seem realistic in a story. In The Doorman’s Sacrifice I have a scene where the hero meets a woman at an LRT station. I got a lot of feedback to the effect that it was unrealistic. Since I based the scene on my personal experience I didn’t agree that it couldn’t happen.  All the same, for the most recent version of the script I removed the scene.

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