Every story has a villain.
While most stories have villains that are generic and somewhat boring others have villains that are creepy and leave you feeling freaked out.
The best type of villain, in my opinion, are the ones where you aren’t quite sure if the character is truly a villain or just misunderstood or the type where you know they are the villain of the story and yet you find yourself rooting for them anyway.
Literature examples of villains we found ourselves rooting for:
- Lestat from Interview With A Vampire
- Hannibal Lecter from Silence Of The Lambs
- The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera
- Normal Bates from Psycho
- Count Dracula from Dracula
- Patrick Bateman from American Psycho
- Smegal/Gollum from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy (Not the main villain in the story)
- Humbert Humbert from Lolita
- Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter Series
TV/Movie examples of villains we found ourselves rooting for:
- Loki in The Avengers
- Dexter in Dexter
- Professor Moriarty from Sherlock
- The Joker in The Dark Knight
- Tony Montana in Scarface
- The Grinch in How The Grinch Stole Christmas
What is a villain?
By definition a villain is:
- a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot.
- a cruelly malicious person who is involved in or devoted to wickedness or crime.
- a scoundrel.
- an antagonist who tries to keep the protagonist from obtaining their goals.
- a character who has a negative effect on other characters.
What makes a great villain?
- Traits and qualities the reader can hate.
- Traits and qualities the reader can love.
- A soft spot or weakness. Something that really speaks about the humanity of the character.
- A strong and compelling backstory that guides and motivates the villain from beginning to end.
- A believable relationship between the villain and the protagonist that plays off of each other in an interesting way. For instance creating opposites between the antagonist and the protagonist.
- Example: The protagonist is shy, honest and noble while the antagonist is out going, deceitful and out for himself.
- An end game that goes beyond defeating the protagonist. Really take the time to flesh out the villains goals, motivations, wants and desires. What would be the villains Happily Every After Ending be?
The #1 “Don’t” rule for Villains
Don’t build your villain up, creating a compelling back story that feeds into the main story and then fail to write a proper climax between the antagonist and protagonist.
Nothing will turn a reader against a story as quick as a villain who doesn’t follow through.
Don’t tease the reader by slowly building up the tension between the two characters to basically have it fall limp and end before the climax has even begun.
If you’ve taken the time to write a strong, believable villain who creates compassion, tension, and conflict in your reader don’t short change them by making the climax lack-luster with the villain easily defeated.
Give the reader and the villain a climax to be proud of.
Never forget that the best villains are the ones readers can connect with.
The more believable and like-able the villain the more frightening and captivating they become in the readers mind.
I’ll end this with a question/quote to ponder on by Gregory Maguire from Wicked:
“Are people born wicked or do they have wickedness thrust upon them?”
– Gregory Maguire
Wednesday @ 9 am “The Most Popular Book Villains”
- Who is your favorite book villain?
- Who is your favorite TV/movie villain?
- What is it about a villain that captures your interest?