Red Lettering

Stories will not be written easily. A story without a heart is dead, and the only place it will get a heart is from the author.

Archive for the tag “Antagonists”

Get to Know Your Characters Responses: Right-Hand Man

Get to Know Your Characters Right-Hand ManHappy Thursday, readers! With blog tours and the conclusion of the Get to Know Your Characters challenge, today has been an exciting day here at the blog. Do take the time to visit (and perhaps comment) on the exceptional pieces below!

By Gabrielle Massman

Prompts Chosen:

  • Your villain’s right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his right-hand man (or woman) met.
  • Your character has lost something important—what is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

The Unmaking, by Natasha Roxby

Prompt Chosen:

  • Write about the time when your villain and his (or her) right-hand man (or woman) met.

By Alea Harper

Prompt Chosen

  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

Choices, by Katie Grace

Prompt Chosen

  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

By Jessica Lockwood

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about the time when your villain and his (in this case, random minion) met.

By Jessi L. Roberts

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about a year before the start of your story.

By Faith Song

Prompt Chosen

  • Write about a time when your villain and right-hand man were interacting normally. Let us know how they talk to each other, what sort of friendship (or enmity) they have.


Prompts Chosen

  •    Your villain’s right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his (or her) right-hand man (or woman) met.

These two are my villain, and his right-hand man, from the not-yet-begun novel, By the Light of Five Stars. 

Note: The word “Thond” means father. (If you’re curious as to why I used “Mama” instead of creating a word for that: “mama” is a title or endearing term for mother found in many different languages that could not possibly have borrowed from each other. I figured that, if it’s found so frequently in our world, it could very likely be found in another, too. 


The shrill, desperate cry of a baby filled the air.

Mathio cringed, drawing in a breath sharp enough to sting his lungs with the cold air. Mama had said that the baby would cry, that it was a good thing—but his mind could not help but flashing back to when this had happened last time. Tumo had cried and could not stop until the day before they buried him.

“It won’t be that way this time,” he reminded himself fiercely under his breath. “It won’t. The baby will be okay.”

Only the frost witnessed the break in his voice.

Backing up against the wall of the midwife’s house, Mathio squeezed his eyes shut, wrapping his arms around his thick coat. Thond would be out any minute now to tell him about the baby. Mama wouldn’t know that Mathio had trekked across the town to get to the midwife’s house when he was supposed to be at home, but Thond would know—fathers always seemed to know.

Across town, a confused rooster crowed—dawn would not come for hours, but apparently the rooster did not know it.

To the right of Mathio, the latch clicked and the midwife’s door opened. His breath catching in his throat, Mathio pivoted toward the door.

He was latching his arms around Thond’s waist before his father even managed to get half-way out the door.

“Whoah,” Thond murmured, sliding further out of the door. “Someone is eager.”

Sniffing, Mathio nodded. “Is the baby good?”

“Very,” Thond said.

Mathio stepped back to peer up at Thond’s face, voice dropping to a whisper. “The baby isn’t going to die?”

“No, Mathio,” Thond said. “He won’t die.”

A rush of relief flooded through Mathio, the tension draining out of his muscles. If Thond said the baby would not die, the baby would live.

“It’s a—a boy?” He asked.

Thond smiled, but the moonlight illuminating his face revealed the wrinkle in his brow. “Yes,” he said. “A boy.”

“Can I meet him?”

“In just a moment,” Thond said. Taking Mathio’s hand, he guided him to the door and sat upon the step, staring into Mathio’s face.

Panic gripped Mathio again, and he reached out with his free hand to wrap it around Thond’s strong, warm one. “The baby is going to be all right—”

“Yes, yes,” Thond’s deep voice murmured.

“Then—,” Mathio started.

“Don’t worry,” Thond said.

Mathio swallowed hard and tried not to worry.

“The baby’s name is Essien,” Thond said, voice soft yet seemingly loud against the relative quiet of a sleeping city. “He is the third son.”

Mathio waited for Thond to continue, but Thond only looked at him, quiet.

The weight of his father’s words hit Mathio like an invisible punch in the stomach. “He—he will get the stars?”

“When he turns twelve,” Thond quietly confirmed.

“But—” Exhausted tears pricked at Mathio’s eyes. “But they’ll hurt him like they hurt you.”

“He’ll be all right,” Thond murmured, pulling Mathio into his arms. Mathio hid his face in Thond’s shoulder, biting his tongue to keep the despair from washing over him.

But Thond had said the baby—Essien—wouldn’t die. Thond had to be right.

“You’ll look out for him, won’t you?” Thond said, his voice vibrating Mathio.

Not raising his head, Mathio nodded. “Always.”

Pulling back, Mathio looked up at Thond’s face.

His father smiled and stood. “Wait here,” he murmured.

Biting his lip, Mathio nodded, not taking his eyes off of Thond as he opened the door, stepped inside, and closed it behind himself.

Squeezing his eyes shut, Mathio tried to envision what his brother’s face would look like. The images flashing across his mind matched only babies that he knew already; boys and girls he could name. Surely Essien would look different from that.

The door opened again. Inching backwards, Mathio tried to quell the nervousness rising up inside of him. Thond stepped out, a bundle of blue cloth cradled in one arm, a candlestick clasped in his other hand. His reassuring smile lit up by candlelight, Thond crouched, nodding for Mathio to approach.

Swallowing, Mathio stepped forward, peering into the face of his brother.

Eyes closed, face illuminated by the flickering candle, Essien’s tiny, beautiful face forced a jolt through Mathio’s heart.

Silently, he vowed that he would never—never leave his brother’s side.

“Essien,” he whispered, testing out the name. “Essien?”

Though Essien’s eyes did not open, Mathio could have sworn his tiny lips turned upward in the faintest smile.






Get to Know Your Characters Challenge: Right-Hand Man

Get to Know Your Characters Right-Hand Man

Happy Tuesday, readers! And ’tis indeed a happy Tuesday, for today is a day of announcement for a new Get to Know Your Characters (in blue this time! Isn’t that splendid?).

What is it?

GTKYC is a trimonthly challenge to discover more about your various characters while stretching your proverbial writing muscles. It’s a challenge open to anyone who wants to jump on board, be they young or old, or somewhere in between.

How does it work? 

Anyone who wishes to participate in the challenge picks a character from one of their stories. Each GTKYC Challenge has a specific character type — in this case, The villain’s right-hand man. (If your villain is more of a loner type, feel free to do the villain himself,  or if your villain has no right-hand man, you can do a former best friend, current best friend, random minion #87, or basically whatever you want).

The participants have sixteen days to create work in any medium they like (poetry, prose, even film if you’re feeling brave) about their character, choosing a scenario from The List Provided Below to write about. Post your work on your blog, and leave a link in the comments or email it to me (craftingstoriesinred(at)gmail(dot)com) and I will post all links to participating blogs in a follow-up post. That post will go live at the end of the challenge, on February 19th, and will also contain my responses to the challenge. Because I’m posting them on my blog, I request that all stories be clean. I do have some young readers.

If you do not have a blog, you can post your response in the comments of this blog post and I’ll link back to your comment and let people know it’s here so they can check it out.

Post your response at any point from now to Thursday, February 19th. If you can, please get the link to me by the 18th.

Why should you do it? 

Well, because knowing your characters is important! You can also get a chance to share about your awesome characters, exercise writing muscles, get feedback from other writers, and have a chance to publicize your blog right here!

The List Provided Below

Feel free to do more than one, or mix and match scenarios!

  • Your villains right-hand man is between three and ten. Write something that shows what their life was like at that point.
  • Write about the time when your villain and his (0r her) right-hand man (or woman) met.
  • Write about a time when your villain and right-hand man were interacting normally. Let us know how they talk to each other, what sort of friendship (or enmity) they have.
  • Write about a year before the start of your story.
  • Your character has lost something importantwhat is it, where is it, and why do they need it?

I look forward to meeting your villain’s second-in-commands over the next sixteen days. If you have any questions, feel free to comment!



The Treatment of Henchmen

The Treatment of HenchmenDear Villains (etc., etc.,)

My name is Athelas Hale, the writer and president of The Association for Protection of Character’s Rights (AfPoCR). Recently it has come to my attention that some of you treat your henchmen (etc., etc.,) in less-than ideal ways. While it’s not the AfPoCR’s job to regulate what villains or heroes do, technically, some of us here at the association were concerned about the way you’ve been operating. While, of course, being villains (etc., etc.,) you most likely won’t even open this letter upon receiving it, I do hope that some of you will at least peek at this missive.

Among other behaviors that I’ve noticed, I’ve seen that you have a tendency to kill off your henchmen. Or—worse, some say—you throw them in the dungeon and lock them up for the rest of time. Now, some of you undoubtedly don’t do this, understanding that life isn’t to be wasted (in which case, why on earth are you reading this letter for villains?) but some of you have done it in the past, and will do it again. I could not help but noticed that the logic of this is lacking slightly. Please allow me to explain.

As a villain, you must have a certain amount of henchmen (etc., etc.,) to do things for you. Some of you may prefer to storm the castle alone, but most of you will most likely need a bit of backup. As the treatment of henchmen becomes more widely known across the worlds, less and less people are planning to be henchmen. Some decide to turn into farmers, or heroes—some even decide to become supervillains themselves. The supply is slowly running low, and every time you kill a clumsy minion, you make yet another spot in your army that has no one to fill it. While you might be able to replace him, the fatality of your wrath will not only strike fear into the hearts of your other henchmen; it will also slowly eat away at their loyalty until fear is the only thing tying them to you. While some may consider this to be a good thing, I have found that when faced with two things they fear—you and your enemy who you are riding off to battle—henchmen usually take the easiest, most logical road. They run away from both. While some of you can manage with only a few or no henchmen, if you’re honest most of you will know that you would be proverbial toast without your vast hordes of minions to back you up. Worse, your henchmen might not only fear you, but hate you enough to be willing to stab you in the back when you give them the first opportunity (e.g. the untimely fate of Saruman.)

As for locking your minions up forever, who can afford that? I know most of you surely can’t—the budget has been tight these days for everyone. You either feed them or you kill them, and we’ve been over killing them already. Not only will you be obliged to feed your locked up henchmen, another possibility is that your enemy will be locked up and stuck in the same dungeon. Your henchman, who is now looking for a chance to relieve you of the burden of your head, will be able to not only help them, but be helped by them.

One thing that henchmen have recently been complaining about is their reputation. You, as their overlord, should be looking out for their public image. Henchmen have found a joke circulating around the internet (I’m sorry if that hasn’t been discovered where you are. Even in places without internet, henchmen are picking these things up) about their inability to aim, about their lack of intelligence, about their inability to tell the sound of a rock from the sound of a person invading your fortress. Now, these henchmen try very hard—they really do. Most of your men come from poor families with little education and no place to go, so their inability to read has branded them as unintelligent, and no one ever taught them the basics of patrolling a castle or fighting a war. Unless you’ve created your own version of the orcs (a very clever move on Morgoth’s part), be aware that your henchmen will not only get restless with the continued mockery of the common people, but they’ll also be needing a proper education to do their best at serving you. Train their ears, teach them to read, and most definitely teach them how to properly aim with their weapon. Also, avoid making your henchmen have long shifts while watching important prisoners, as they may grow tired and fall asleep, thus giving your prisoner an easy escape. Please be aware that embarrassed henchmen may hold you responsible for their bad reputation, and may grow too eager to prove themselves. Such plans on the part of henchmen can backfire and damage your whole operation.

We all know that some of you can grow very frustrated with the actions of your henchmen. Yet few of you take the time to move among your henchmen, be there for them when they need you, listen to them when they speak, and pay attention to what they think. Henchmen are most often sentient creatures that need a good leader as much as any of us do. Be that good leader for your henchmen. Give them someone to look up to, someone to trust. Let them know that you, their leader, will always be there for them. Pay attention to the way they think so you’ll know whether to be the caring father of the charismatic captain. Always know if your henchmen are frightened or nervous, and know how to allay their fears. They’ll not only follow you—they’ll love you. They’ll die for you, and not out of fear that’s easily broken; out of a complete devotion to you. Be their family, and they will be yours. Be loyal, and they will be loyal to you. Understand them, and you’ll not only find yourself getting frustrated less, you’ll also be able to teach your henchmen how to best go about the things you want them to do.

Beware, also, of threatening the families of your henchmen. Certainly they love their mum and would do anything for her, but that not only makes them hate you just a little more every day, it also gives your enemies a way of winning their affections. Should your enemy decide to simply rescue the families of your henchmen, you will have just lost your entire army.

Since I’m sure you all have certain supervillain-like duties that need attending to, I shall have to end this letter at that. Please remember, though, all of you villains, evil-overlords, criminal leaders, usurpers, and all the rest of you—always remember that henchmen are worth taking good care of. If you would like to know more, simply go to the AfPoCR’s website (if you can find it; I’m afraid it’s unavailable in many worlds, including but not limited to: Earth, Narnia,* Anthropos,** Amara,*** and Rudiobus****) where you can find a link to purchase the newest guide, The Care and Keeping of Henchmen: A Guide for the Busy Supervillain.


Athelas Hale

(Writer and President of The Association for Protection of Character’s Rights. (AfPoCR))


*Narnia: From The Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis. No copyright is intended and no right is claimed to these novels.

**Anthropos: From The Archives of Anthropos, by John White. No copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.

***Amara: From The Dragon Keeper Chronicles, by Donita K. PaulNo copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.

****Rudiobus: From The Tales of Goldstone Wood, by Anne Elisabeth Stengl. No copyright is intended, and no claim is made to these novels.


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