She is a has been – you know the kind – you can tell that she used to be beautiful, happy, honest, likeable. You can tell that she’s lived a hard life; maybe even gotten the short end of the stick more times than she deserved to. When you meet her, she is the kind of person that you feel bad for because you know that things should have worked out differently just because they usually do for pretty people.

She is skinny as a rail because she rarely eats; she prefers to drink her meals. Her hair is long and blonde, but dry and brittle, and needs a trim. Her mouth and eyes have smoker’s wrinkles surrounding them, and her fingernails are as yellow as her teeth. Her eyes are big, beautiful, blue…but the bags that hold them up tell more of her story than words could ever describe. Her eyes dart from here to there rapidly and without trust. She flinches often and is uncomfortable in her own skin, almost as if she’s waiting to be hit or knocked down.

And it’s true, she has been hurt before. Both physically and mentally. The physical wounds healed on the outside but never fully in her heart. The mental wounds are the ones that still sting and show the bruises. She tried to be a good wife, mother, friend. It was never enough. He always wanted more. He always wanted the opposite of what she thought he wanted. He was spiteful, vengeful. She would spend the day cooking a huge chicken dinner complete with all the trimmings. He complained he wanted pork chops and refused to eat. And then he would leave for a “business meeting” and come home reeking of cheap scotch and cheap women.

She never accused him, never questioned him. She did as she was told and kept her head down. But when he finally started pushing her around, sometimes even punching her, she tried to take a stand. She packed her bags and went to her mother’s house. A week later, he came begging and she told him about the baby. Things would change, he said. He’d be there for her. He’d spend more time with her. He would make sure she understood what he needed and wanted so they’d never have to argue or be angry at each other.

Then the boy came. He was beautiful. Perfect. Tiny. Helpless. Things didn’t change. The “business meetings” became more frequent, and sometimes he ended up spending the night at “the office”. When he was home, he occupied himself by getting drunk and throwing her around. He never touched the boy, but made sure that she understood loud and clear who was running the show.

The straw that broke the camel’s back came in the form of a broken femur, two cracked ribs, a dislocated shoulder and a blackened eye. So blackened and damaged in fact, that the doctors weren’t initially sure they could save it. She explained to the doctors that she tumbled down the stairs, rushing too quickly to get to her crying son. And as she laid there in the hospital, praying to God that he wasn’t home hurting her son, she made a decision. That he had to go. And she would make him go.

How she did it isn’t important just yet; why she did it is already apparent. Debt, bitterness and self loathing are just a few of the gifts that he left her with.

And so it goes…

Do you want to know who “she” is and why I even wrote about her in the first place? Check out my post titled The Window, which I’m using as the basis for the novel I’m going to (attempt) to write during the month of November for National Novel Writing Month! This post was written in about 10 minutes, and is very much an early, incomplete sketch of this character. I just wanted to get some thoughts down on paper while I had them running around in my head.

I wrote this prompt for the Red Writing Hood. The prompt was: write a character sketch of a villain.


  1. And he deserved a big ole kick in the nuts or worse...??

    I love the description of Her and hate him to the core.

    Another beautiful piece, Natalie. You are really becoming a very gifted fiction writer. Well done.
  2. blueviolet says:
    This novel is going to sell! You are good!
  3. I love it...beautifully written. The imagery is what really got me...I could totally picture this.
  4. Oooh, smart thinking! Use these prompts to build into 1 big story!!
  5. That was great!! I love how you're using this and the The Window for your novel.
  6. I'm so proud of all you guys who are doing this! Fantastic to see another side of y'alls writing!
  7. Wow! You definitely got my attention and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of your story---good job!!
  8. moveovermarypoppins.com says:
    Good luck with NaNoWriMo!

    Can't wait to hear how it goes!
  9. The mad woman behind the blog says:
    I'm waiting for the other shoe to drop. And that's a sure sign of damn good writing.

    Can't wait to read more.
  10. explodedmoments says:
    Can't wait to read more! Very VERY vivid detail!
  11. This? Awesome. I can't wait to read more!!!! Love your writing!
  12. MommyNaniBooboo says:
    I like that we are going to understand where this "villain" is coming from.
    Villains are made.
  13. The Empress says:
    GOOD LUCK! I can't wait to see what everyone says at the end of this month. That's the exciting part to me...will it jumpstart their writing juices???
  14. The Drama Mama says:
    You are doing NaNoWriMo too? Yay!! We should buddy up! I think you've got a great start here. I was going to use my NaNoWriMo characters too, but it went a different direction with a revisit to one of the characters from last week's story.

    As far as this goes? You are painting a picture of a villain that every woman can relate to, and at the same time, she's the type of villain you end up rooting for. Excellent job! I can't wait to read more.
  15. You wrote this in 10 minutes? Whoa. What a sad story. I can almost see her. Can't wait to read more.
  16. The Sweetest says:
    Please keep going with this. Don't overthink it. Just let it happen. If you wrote this in ten minutes, just think what you could produce in a month! It's awesome.
  17. These kinds of stories are sad but need to be told. I'll keep reading if you keep writing. I'm going to participate in NaNoWrMo too.
  18. Natalie,

    This story just gets more interesting with each installment! I like that you took the mother, who in The Window, was villainous and put her in the role of victim here. I can't wait to read more.

    My only suggestion (we want this, right?) is that you scan through and try to cut out common phrases like, "The straw that broke the camel's back." Try writing just that phrase on a piece of paper and brainstorm other, more unique ways that you could convey that same idea.

    Keep writing...NaNoWriMo, here we come! :)
  19. Belle's Butterfly says:
    I am so excited you decided to write a novel. I will be eagerly Awaiting your next piece on this!
  20. Jennie @ Modern Mamaz says:
    Definitely let me know when it gets published!! I'd love to read the whole story.
  21. Good luck! I think that you did a great job in just 10 minutes!

    Keep up the good work!!
  22. We both wrote about some lovely men, didn't we?

    My suggestion, as far as writing, is you say, for instance "She is skinny as a rail because she rarely eats; she prefers to drink her meals" could be "She is skinny as a rail, preferring to drink her meals (rarely eats is inferred). Or this: "She flinches often and is uncomfortable in her own skin, almost as if she's waiting to be hit or knocked down." could be "She flinches often, almost as if she's waiting to be hit or knocked down."

    You tell us what the sitch is, and then you give us an example instead of just using the example to illustrate it. Does that make sense?
  23. Mommy Wis(h)dom says:
    Good luck with NaNoWriMo - I'll be there with ya. I agree with Cheryl. If you tell the reader everything you want them to know, they get distracted. Great job on this piece, way to build your characters.
  24. Sharlene T. says:
    Yes, for goodness' sake, give us the rest... this is wonderful and definitely kept my interest... you truly have a gift...
  25. ..but the bags that hold them up tell more of her story than words could ever describe.

    This is a brilliant line. I love just writing to get the ideas down...the brilliant thing about editing is that we can always improve. Sometimes, it's the getting started that holds us back...and look at all you have to work with now.

    Awesome start.
  26. Lori @ In Pursuit of Martha Points says:
    Excellent addition, my dear.