Villains. One of the hardest characters to write. Why? Let’s dive into that and discover more about villains than the typical stereotype.
noun: villain; plural noun: villains
(in a film, novel, or play) a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.
Tell me, what is the first thing you imagine when the villain of a story is mentioned? If it’s a well written bad guy, it probably makes you shudder a tad. But shouldn’t there be more to the enemy than that? And I’m not just talkin’ like a full on scream-and-run-out-the-door kind of ‘more’ but rather, where is the story behind your villain that almost makes you empathize with their evil. That’s the worst feeling you can get from a bad guy in a story. And yet, I believe it’s the right feeling any reader should get from the villain. Think about it:
- Villains typically agree with their own cause; making it right in their own eyes.
- Clearly your reader should empathize with the hero (that’s almost the entire point of a hero) but let us not forget that the villain has a story too.
- Even heros are often tempted to become a villain at one time or another. Tell your reader why the villain of your story became the villain — not just that he is the villain.
So, your villain decided to be bad and your hero, well, what made him decide to fight evil? Why should he be good? The bad guy, or some experience pertaining to the same ideas of the bad guy, helped shape your hero’s disdain for evil. It may sound like I’m going in circles, if so, it’s because I’m getting at a particular point: why is your villain a villain and why is your hero a hero?
Really, really think about that. It can be easy to follow the hero’s story — DO NOT FORGET THAT YOUR BAD GUY HAS A STORY!
I hope this has helped some writer’s out there — please let me know in the comments. Thank you for reading!