Thursday, June 9, 2011

FOR THE WRITERS: How to Write Evil, Awesome Villains (part II)

A few weeks ago, I gave you one of my tips when writing story villains. If you have not read that one, you can check it out here. It's the most important tip I could give you on writing villains, so if you read any of my character development entries, go for that one! 

Here are some more tips to get that lovably freaky villain your story needs:


Those who write a lot of stories know that the characters' pasts are extremely important to the plot, as well as the creation of a believable and three-dimensional character. But often, writers seem to overlook the pasts of the villains. In reality, however, the villains past is just as important as the hero's. 

Our pasts shape who we are as people. What we experience determines how we think, how we see the world, what we do with our lives. We all have memories that haunt us and personal goals that drive us. Think of some specific moments in your life that have shaped who you are as a person--was it meeting a good friend? A chance encounter or a fluke accident of some kind? Why did it effect you so? What has that event motivated you to do?

A villain rarely is frightening unless he has a reason to be frightening. As I mentioned in the Part 1, if the villains don't seem real, they likely won't seem scary. Giving him or her a realistic past, with realistic outcomes and situations will help you build a realistic person.

2. REAL HATABILITY (and yes, I know that is not a word)

Another mistake I often see writers do is rely too much on the villain's cruelty towards the hero to cause us to hate him. The villain beats up the hero that we begin to hate him so much that we desperately HAVE to have the hero beat him back. Sometimes this can work, but often times it's a cheap way to get out of real conflict.

Instead of simply hating the villain, we must begin to hate not only what he does that is so terribly villainous, but what he stands for. 

The villain is a symbol both to readers and to the imaginative audience the exist within the story. What he or she represents is bigger than what he or she truly is--a person (or…creature, robot, or giant flaming eye, etc, etc). People (and creatures, robots, and giant flaming eyes) can be destroyed, killed, forced into exile, but the ideas they represent take a lot more effort to destroy. Because of this, writers need to put a lot of effort into making the villain's ideals threatening--even more so than the villain himself.

Happy Villain-creating!

† Rebecca