The villain monologue isn't traditionally all that prevalent with traditional fantasy, but it's a staple of mystery. Since urban fantasy is usually centered around a mystery, and since urban fantasy is infiltrating other subgenres of fantasy, I am seeing it more and more.
The Incredibles did a delightful mockery of the villain monologue. The gag starts here:
Lucius: So now I'm in deep trouble. I mean, one more jolt of this death ray and I'm an epitaph. Somehow I manage to find cover and what does Baron von Ruthless do?
Bob: [laughing] He starts monologuing.
Lucius: He starts monologuing! He starts like, this prepared speech about how feeble I am compared to him, how inevitable my defeat is, how the world will soon be his, yadda yadda yadda.
Lucius: Yammering! I mean, the guy has me on a platter and he won't shut up!
And it leads to this:
Mr. Incredible: I was wrong to treat you that way. I'm sorry . . .
Syndrome: See? Now you respect me, because I'm a threat. That's the way it works. Turns out there are lots of people, whole countries, that want respect, and will pay through the nose to get it. How do you think I got rich? I invented weapons, and now I have a weapon that only I can defeat, and when I unleash it . . .
[Mr. Incredible throws a log at Syndrome, who dodges it and traps Mr. Incredible with his zero-point energy ray]
Syndrome: Oh, ho ho! You sly dog! You got me monologuing! I can't believe it . . .
I have noticed two types of monologues:
- When the hero tries to keep the villain talking, so the hero can figure out a way out of the fix he's in.
- When the villain is simply bragging, as above.
The monologue usually occurs in first-person novels, or in close third-person, where the villain doesn't get any time as the POV character. It doesn't usually happen in traditional fantasies, where you know who the villain is and your job is to stop him/kill him/render him harmless. But when you have twisty plots, I can appreciate the fact that it's difficult to communicate all the twists to the reader without resorting to a monologue.
I mostly see monologues in the lighter mysteries. I don't recall any monologues in the No.1 Ladies Detective Agency series, or in Maisie Dobbs. Both novels feature smart heroines who manage to figure it all out, with a bit of help from their friends. And I love both series.
What do you think of villain monologues? Good? Bad? Indifferent?
I have something special planned. I have started working on a One Year Later series of guest posts. I already have four authors who have agreed to participate. For these posts, I have asked the authors to tell us about their first year as a publish author. I plan to cover both authors that I have coverd before, as well as authors who will be new here. I hope you enjoy it.
Check back tomorrow for the first installment!