Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Power of The Dark Side

Creating Great Villains and Dangerous Situations 
by Pamela Jaye Smith

Book Review
By Ann Baldwin

Pamela Jaye Smith has earned a respected reputation as a speaker, consultant, writer, award-winning producer/director, and the founder of MYTHWORKS with over 30 years of experience on features, TV series, commercials, documentaries, corporate and military films. Her credits and clients include Paramount, Disney, Microsoft, Universal, GM, the FBI, and the U.S. Army. In her book, The Power of The Dark Side: Creating Great Villains and Dangerous Situations (Michael Wiese Productions 2008), you’ll gain a deeper understanding of what the dark side is, who gets lured into it and why, what it’s purpose is, and how to deal with it in your stories.

Every great protagonist, heroine, or hero is only as good as the antagonist, villain, or obstacle that gets in their way to accomplishing their goals, which they must confront and overcome. As writers, it’s our job to take our protagonists into the dark (unknown) and shed light on the subject for the audience, so they can learn what to do or not do in the same or a similar situation. As Pamela says, “Storytellers are valuable ~ they can be a mirror or a movie screen for the rest of humanity, who have a curiosity for variety and adventure but often not the inclination, time, or courage to go there themselves"; like the popular 1970’s commercial for Life cereal, where the two brothers are reluctant to try the new cereal saying to each other “I’m not gonna try it – you try it” then they look at their younger brother and say, “I know, let’s get Mikey.”

Whether your protagonist is up against a bad dad, tyrant, or mad scientist or large group like an organized religion, a secret society, or a shadow government, there are many ways to defend against them like laughter, education, and exposure. The dark side exists in comedies, cartoons, children’s stories, romance, drama, action/adventure, documentaries, historical fiction, commercials, and the obvious, horror stories. Pamela uses hundreds of film and character examples including Harry Potter, Conspiracy Theory, and Freedom Writers to Cruella De Vil, Dr. Hannibal Lecter, and Darth Vader.

The dark side of life is like the negative of a photograph, it appears dark and solid on the outside, but once you hold it up to the light, it becomes transparent and allows you to see right through it. For all writers who want to create believable, bad-to-the-bone, or worthy opponents for their heroines or heroes to conquer, The Power of The Dark Side is the best choice and has the largest and most comprehensive reference list of dark forces imaginable.

To learn more about Pamela Jaye Smith you can visit her at and purchase a copy of The Power of The Dark Side at Michael Wiese Productions, Amazon, The Writers Store, or Barnes & Noble.

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