The Making of a ‘Good’ Villain
It is said that in order to create really great characters that your readers care about you must absorb yourself into their psyche; you must take a part of your own personality and place it into ‘them.’ I’m sure many of you have done that – think back – go on…ahhhh, so you remember how that damsel in distress was a part of you when you were going through a tough time, or how the great warrior in your latest fantasy novel resembled your thoughts and feelings on a matter. This is all great and wonderful for the good guys in a story, but what about the bad guys?
The same holds true for the villains – yes, the author’s darker side. Sure, everyone wants to see the hero triumph, but in order for that to happen you have to have a really good bad guy, someone that will challenge your hero, someone who will throw out all the obstacles that he can to make the hero really struggle. But to love the hero one must also love the villain.
It’ll take an exceptional villain, one with much evil, dastardly doings and underhandedness to capture your reader’s hearts. He or she will have to pull out all the stops and really be nasty to the hero, doing all they can to destroy him and thwart the whole saving the world thing. But how do you do that?
Unfortunately, my friend, you’re going to have to get evil. Yes, that’s what I said. You need to think mean and nasty, and allow the dark corners of your demented mind (and yes, I know you have them) to trickle out. You have to actually draw out from your being all the demented, twisted ideals from the very fabric of your soul and entwine these ideals throughout the story. The villain will challenge the hero from the very beginning and the storyline must have a balanced roller-coaster ride of really bad stuff happening, then a lull, then more bad stuff happening. All of which the villain is instigating.
If you’re having trouble coming up with great ideas for the bad guy to do to the good guy think of opposites. Example: In a store line someone may allow another person to cut in line. What’s the opposite? What mean thing could be done? I’ve found a lot of negative, dastardly stuff in cartoon movies, anime, or even by watching some of the best villains in current HBO shows.
There are actually a lot of great ideas out there, you just have to look. Once you find them you must embrace the dark side, allow your villain to be the most evil, scheming, conniving villain he/she can be, and make your readers love to hate him/her. Give them a twisted since of humor. Make them sarcastic. Make them a complete asshole. The choice is up to you.
Go, now, and create. Enjoy the dastardly events that will make your hero miserable and the reader cheer, yet cry, when you villain is defeated.
That was great, thank you, TJ. Great to have you back.
TJ Perkins is an award-winning author of the mystery / suspense genre. Her writing style has been compared to that of Mildred Wirt Benson A.K.A. Carolyn Keen (Nancy Drew). Mystery books for ages 8-14 are Mystery of the Attic, On Forbidden Ground, Wound Too Tight and the first 5 books in the Kim & Kelly Mystery Series.
TJ has recently expanded into the world of fantasy for teens. Publisher Silver Leaf Books has contracted to release Shadow Legacy, a 5-book series of fantasy. The first installment of this new exciting series, Art of the Ninja: Earth, is an award-winner and has been classified by readers and reviewers as a cross-genre of fantasy/manga.
You can read sample pages of TJ’s writing (www.authorsden.com/tjperkins), see the book trailer (www.silverleafbooks.com), check out TJ’s blog, follower her on Twitter, friend / like her on Facebook and find her books at Goodreads (all her books are available on Kindle, Nook, iPad – just look them up by TJ Perkins).
If you would like to write a writing-related guest post for my blog then feel free to email me with an outline of what you would like to write about. If it’s writing-related then it’s highly likely I’d email back and say “yes please”.
The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with non-fiction author Yves Johnson – the six hundred and ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me.
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As I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t unfortunately review books but I have a list of those who do, and a feature called ‘Short Story Saturdays’ where I review stories of up to 2,500 words (and post stories of up to 3,000 words), or posted for others to critique (up to 5,000 words) on the new Morgen’s Online Short Story Writing Group. Alternatively if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me posting it online in my Red Pen Critique posts, then do email me. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry and Morgen’s Online Poetry Writing Group.