Character Types: Villain

Mar 16, 2014 by

As much as we root for our heroes, let’s face it, we wouldn’t care if they didn’t have a great villain standing in the way. Sometimes we even cheer on the villain, because they tend to be more complex ones and the ones who get us thinking.

Plus the sad truth of humanity is that we’re all a bit sadistic at times, and no one satisfies that like a villain.

These tips may be a bit short and random but in any case I hope they help you ruin your hero’s day.


Meet my villain... the Evil Scribble!

Meet my villain… the Evil Scribble!

Doing one bad thing wouldn’t necessarily make someone a bad guy. So what does make a villain? It comes down to two things: ends and means.

Their end is what they hope to accomplish, I.E. take over the world or kill a group of people.

Means is the way they accomplish it, they could have an honorable goal but try to reach it by stealing, lying or murder.

Do they need a back story? It’s fine for them to be evil without much of a reason, bullies can be just mean and when you think about it some villains are just overblown bullies; but if you do give them a reason make sure you show it because when people see why they’re evil that’s when they really start to care.

Of course that sounds like you should definitely give them a reason so if you’re not sure ask yourself: is the reader supposed to see the villain’s side/relate with the villain or are they just supposed to love to hate them? If the former they definitely need a back story, if the latter than not really.

If you’re writing a relatable villain make sure some of their points are valid even if their goal and/or means is wrong; if they’re wrong all the time their endeavor wouldn’t be believable, which wouldn’t be relatable.

Like a hero isn’t going to be all good a villain shouldn’t be all bad, the good doesn’t have to in anyway redeem them but it should be there. Even the worst can possibly take care of their own or have their own code of honor, or have good traits like patience or loyalty.

Really think about it before having a villain reform, it may be the only way to keep them but this story element can come off as cheap. Just make sure it’s in character and that you lead up to it; don’t hide the build up to make it a complete surprise or readers will feel cheated.

The bad guy won’t have henchmen just because he needs them, there has to be a reason people would follow him, whether that’s fear, respect or that they believe in his cause.

The last thing to remember is that which one is the hero or villain really depends on who’s looking at them; if your villain has followers (that don’t just follow out of fear) than they will be seen as a hero to those followers.

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