Villains are important if you want a successful story, but how do you write a
good great one?
Through trial and error and wonderful advice from rejections, I’ve learned the following. You might want to keep them in mind as you are writing your own ‘Voldemort’:
1. Don’t think of your villain as a traditional evil villain. Simply put, the villain is the antagonist. He’s what stands in the hero’s way of success. He can be likeable, friendly. Your audience can love him…all the while he’s stabbing the hero in the back.
2. Your villain has to have motivation. He can’t just be bad because he’s a villain. Why does he need to get in the hero’s way? What will he have to lose (or gain) if the hero succeeds? Give your villain emotion. Make your readers understand why he does what he does and even sympathize and/or empathize.
3. Does your villain represent an aspect of your story? What is his weapon of choice to defeat the hero? Love? Greed? Power? Lust? Wrath/Revenge? Pride?
4. Don’t dress your villains in black. Give them other signs of depravity and evil. Show their characters as dark, contrasting him with the hero. Where the hero would find a wallet and return it to its owners intact, a villain may return said wallet but only after removing the contents beneficial to him. A preacher may teach the gospel with fervor and emotion, then go home and beat his wife and kids because they aren’t pure in the Lord’s name. Find the good and counter it with the bad.
5. Make sure your villain has at least 2 of the following traits: independent, smart, resourceful, powerful, rich, charismatic, iconic, famous, friendly, relatable.
6. Unless it’s necessary to the story, stay away from the clichéd scars, disfigurements, ogre-like, warty appearances. Villains are often average in looks. Think The Elephant Man, where the hero was the one disfigured and the villain(s) were regular people – those who didn’t understand and lived in fear of what Joseph Merrick represented.
7. Lastly, make up your own villains. Don’t use other tried and true as models to build on. Be your hero. If you want to be the model parent of the year, what is the worst possible thing that would stand in your way? What face does it have? Does it have to be another person? Can it be you standing in your own way? (a drug or alcohol addiction that keeps you from making right choices). Make your villain 3-dimensional. Make him unique. Make him yours.
Who are your favorite villains from what stories and why?
- Heroes and Villains (loveisthebestmedicine.wordpress.com)
- Got Villain? Use these 5 ideas to write him (or her) real (theaatkinson.wordpress.com)
- Hero and Villain Types (projectrandomhero.wordpress.com)