Wednesday, June 5, 2013

How to Create the Perfect Villain

You know the type. Tall, sinister, rather devious in appearance. Gives off a dangerous vibe. Has some sort of tragic backstory. Tries to take over the world and all that jazz. 

I am, of course, talking about the generic story villain. He or she (or they, as the case may be...), is what makes it hard for our hero to reach their main goal. They make story tension. They make a plot more exciting. So how do you create the perfect bad guy? It's not that hard. It's all about the basics here, folks, and here are four of them: 

  • Villains should be real. I don't care if your villain is a space alien or some random house cat turned ninja. Your villain needs to be just as real as the hero. This means he or she needs to have a backstory and a reason for being evil. Yes, some people simply are evil because hey, villainy is apparently appealing to the simple-minded. But there are those who aren't so simple-minded, and they always have a reason or motivation behind their devious plans. So make sure you know what your villain's motivation is. 
  • Who is your villain? A villain doesn't have to be a person. It can be an invisible force. For example, in State of Emergency, the villain is a powerful invading army called Omega. There's no single face; the force itself is the villain. So a villain does not have to be one person. It can be a thing. For example, a ship on the high seas will quickly have a villain to fight when it comes in the form of a hurricane. You'll have a villain to fight when you stub your toe on the corner of the kitchen table. Antagonists are all around us, unfortunately. Bad for us, good for villain creation. 
  • Make them relatable. Your villains needs to have humanity. It doesn't have to be much....just a sliver. Your villain should have a weakness. Something that makes them human. Something that might even cause the reader to have a teensy bit of sympathy for them...but only for a moment. The best (or should I say worst?) villains are human. 
  • Don't overdo it. I'm not into naming names, so let's just say that there are some instances in which I read about a villain that is so nasty...that he doesn't even seem real. I know. Evil people exist. Villains are bad. But don't get caught in cliches. Your bad guys should be bad - but they shouldn't be so bad that your readers are getting the feeling that the villain's evilness was planned. Obviously it was planned, but you get my drift. Less is usually more. 
Ask yourself these questions: 
  1. What is your villain's goal? 
  2. Why do they want to achieve that goal? 
  3. What are they willing to do to get to said goal? 
  4. What makes them human? 
  5. What is their Achille's Heel? 
I could probably write a book about how to create the perfect villain, but I won't. Because right now, the release day for State of Chaos is creeping closer and closer...and yeah. The only villain involved in this situation is a little thing known as time. But hey. What's life - or a story - without a little tension? 


  1. Excellent overview, Summer! Makes me want to create a really semi-evil but sympathetic villain asap. Thanks for the insights!

    1. Muahaha! Go and create him (or her, as the case may be...)!! :D


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