The villain

In the real world, although we humans can have strong and passionate disagreements, I can’t imagine that anyone really thinks of themselves as the villain, purposefully setting out to get in some hero’s way. Rather, villains are just doing what they honestly think is right. If their conscience annoys them, they don’t think about it, or rationalize it away.

This is why villain monologues also seem unrealistic to me. They come from thinking of a story only through the hero’s point of view. “The poor hero is being persecuted! It’s all the villain’s fault! He’s just so hateful!” What about the villain’s point of view? Can’t he be just as passionate about something as the hero? I don’t mean a story should be morally ambiguous. I mean that a villain should be just as human as the hero, and his motivations should be sympathetic, even if we as an audience disagree with his ultimate choices. That is, even if we disagree with his decisions, we should understand where he’s coming from. In this way, a monologue at a story’s climax should not be necessary; his motivations should be apparent from the story.

But there is a time when I think something like a monologue can work. A monologue is meant for exposition, so that we as an audience can understand what and why a villain did what he did. And while a monologue itself is unrealistic, it is conceivable that a hero may, during a conversation, coax a villain into revealing his motivations. This can only happen believably if the villain thinks the hero may be sympathetic to his views. For example, the villain may be trying to lure the hero into joining him. Or perhaps he just wants sympathy and validation. (I recall Stinky Pete’s exposition in Toy Story 2, or Darth Vader’s classic confession in Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back.) Such a conversation, when the villain is trying to get something out of his exposition, should seem more natural than a direct gloating monologue spoken only for the sake of exposition.

RIP Duotrope is a free resource which lists writing markets. That is, if you have a piece of short fiction or non-fiction that you’d like to get published, Duotrope is an excellent resource for finding a potential publisher for your work. Users are also able to keep track of their submissions. This is handy if you are submitting multiple pieces to multiple markets. Duotrope also keeps lots of submissions statistics.

Unfortunately Duotrope announced today that, as of January 1st 2013, they will no longer be free. They plan on charging users $5 a month or $50 a year to use their service.

I can’t analyze this issue from Duotrope’s point of view. I don’t know how much their hosting costs are, who’s doing all the coding, how much work goes into their updating, etc. So if the site’s current donation business model is not maintainable, I can’t argue with that.

From a writer’s perspective, however, I am called to ask myself: Do I get enough out of this resource to justify paying $5 a month or $50 a year for it?

Answer: No.

I mainly use Duotrope for finding speculative fiction markets. Before discovering Duotrope, I used for this. It’s not nearly as professional looking as Duotrope, but it’s kept well maintained and up-to-date.

Duotrope has a handy search feature. Useful, but not worth paying for. I can search through’s listing on my own.

Before I discovered Duotrope, I tracked my own submissions in a spreadsheet. Easy stuff. I don’t need to pay for an automated system to do that.

Duotrope lists some handy response statistics, including how many submissions were pending for a certain market, an acceptance ratio, and average response times. Interesting stats, but do I really need them? No. (After submitting to various markets for a few years, you naturally get a feel for who’s fast and who’s slow on your own anyway.)

Some writers on Facebook have argued, “Well, if you’re a serious writer, this is the cost of doing business.” I reject the notion that willingness to shell out money for resources of convenience determines whether or not you’re serious. Any writer who mentions seriousness with this issue is a snob. All writers who use Duotrope are serious.

So, like many other writers out there, I’ll most likely be returning to for my sff market listing needs.