If you’re gonna have a hero, you need a villain. Its that simple. There is really no getting around it. Its that person that acts as a foil, the one who makes you fear your hero isn’t ready. The big bad! Near every story has one, on various degrees of the sinister scale (yes, its a thing!). Most of us can name at least ten off the top of our heads. Some were great, some were mediocre and some were downright horrible!
I challenge you to think of three must haves for a great villain. Here are my picks.
There is nothing worse than a villain who ambles on and on with no sense of purpose. I would venture to say that a bad villain is worse than a bad protagonist. I can see your eyebrows furrowing now! LOL. Think about this for a second; how many books have you read, shows you’ve watched, where the hero was just dumb and you couldn’t care less about them, but the villain, the big bad kept you glued to the screen wondering what they would do next?
The job of the villain is to make the audience nervous. They are the threat that are supposed to keep you watching and praying that everything will be alright in the end. So how does the villain accomplish this? There must be a rational motive behind everything they do.
What is a rational motive you ask? Well, can the audience relate? Does it make sense to the person and to the plot line?
A villain who wants to blow up a village because they only bought two fishes instead of three from them, doesn’t make sense. However, if said villain, was to plan on blowing up the village because they unjustly executed their mother three years ago…we can relate. Their motive makes sense.
COMPELLING BACK STORY
No person is literally “born evil.” Make your audience understand your villain. Its hard to outright hate a person, once you understand where they are coming from and why they are doing the things they are doing, right or not. Make your character relatable and realistic. Every person is complex, no one is cut and dry. Think about this.
If you know me, you know that I am a huge fan of Xena: Warrior Princess. Arguably the biggest villain in the entire series, was Callisto. She went toe to toe with Xena, so much so that you literally feared for her. What makes Callisto interesting, isn’t her raw hatred, but the very reason why she is the way she is. You see, way back in the day, when Xena was a blood thirsty warlord, she burned and pillaged little Callisto’s village, killing her entire family. She fostered her hatred and trained night and day to defeat Xena.
SINISTER BUT LIKABLE PERSONALITY
We all have a dark side. Tap into that and you’ll have your audience eating out of the palm of your hand! A good villain should evoke the thought that…”man, if they weren’t trying to blow up the world, we could be friends!” Make your reader wrestle within themselves between outright hating them and being head over heels in love.
Does your villain have a dark sense of humor? Do they show some redeeming qualities? Be sure to draw out their weaknesses as well. A character who is truly interesting is not perfect. Your villain should have faults and fatal flaws that makes them human!
AT THE END OF THE DAY:
Remember…a villain is a hero in their own version of reality. Your aim, should be to write an actual person, with goals, strengths, weaknesses, desires, love interests. If their choices are questionable…so be it. Write a person, not a caricature!
What do you guys think? Any thing I missed? Leave a comment below and lets get the discussion going! Genesys Out!