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Marie Lu’s 5 Tips For Getting In And Out of A Villain’s Head

We think there aren’t enough heroines out there with a dark side – that’s why Adelina from THE YOUNG ELITES totally captivates us. But how do you go about writing from the mind of a villain? And more importantly…how do you then go BACK to everyday life after having been in that dark place? Read on for Marie Lu’s 5 ways to dive in and 5 ways to climb out of Adelina’s headspace!


Getting in:


1. Headphones on. I almost never write in silence, and when I’m in Adelina’s head, I almost always have dark, angry music on. I start by choosing one of my dark favorites, then closing my eyes and letting the music pound away for a while before starting to type. Occasionally, I will also put on to get myself into a thunderstorm-y mindset.

2. Writing in a dark room. Sometimes, a very dark room–i.e. a pitch-black closet. I learned this from the incredible author Jandy Nelson, who said that writing in complete darkness lets her dive into her world like nothing else. It’s true, and totally psychedelic–although I have to be careful not to do it when I’m tired, because then I just pass out and sleep in the closet.

3. Watching or reading horror. If I do this before I start writing, I will write a much darker scene than I normally could manage. (Btw, if you’ve never read horror microstories before, give these a shot. Spine. Tingling.)

4. Drawing. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve attempted to draw Adelina’s scowl. My husband can always tell when I’m at it, though, because I unconsciously make the same face myself. Raaargh.

5. Pinterest. This is a dangerous rabbit hole for me to go down, because sometimes I start off pinning cool dark things that help me get into Adelina’s mindset–and then I see a cool picture of home decor and go “oooh home decor!” and then soon I’m pinning recipes. But usually this will help!

Getting out:


1. Playing with my dogs. I have three–two Pembroke Welsh Corgis, and one chihuahua mix. They are the epitome of derpy. And it’s pretty hard to hang onto Adelina’s lingering dark thoughts when something like this is staring at you.



2. Taking a long walk. I live on a tree-lined street that is a straight shot toward the ocean–so one of my favorite things to do after an intense writing session with Adelina is to walk that street a couple of miles until I hit the boardwalk. (With music blasting, of course.)

3. Watching adorable videos. This kind of goes hand in hand with #1, but it totally deserves its own category. Because this video. And this video. And this video.

4. Cleaning the house. Okay, look–I hate chores. I despiiise them. But there is nothing that washes away the epic destruction that Adelina leaves in her wake or the sound of villain laughter in my head….like cleaning lint out of the dryer.

5. Eating something super delicious. I am firmly convinced that Adelina would be a happier person if only she got to eat macarons and gelato every day.




Thanks Marie!

Curious as to what the finished product looks like? Start reading THE YOUNG ELITES and meet Adelina! 



Penguin Teen