How To Write The Perfect Villain

By on June 18, 2016
How To Write The Perfect Villain - Writer's Life.org

Creating characters for your stories is one of the most exciting and enjoyable parts of being a writer, and while we all have characters that we completely fall in love with, there is nothing quite as satisfying as writing a brilliant, twisted villain.

Villains are so interesting, they create contrast, they are the ones we love to hate, they are complex, emotionally disturbed, terrifying figures, and with them we can really let our imaginations run wild.

Trying to create a character that you want your readers to hate, be repulsed by, or frightened of, in my opinion, is actually more interesting and, in some ways, easier than trying to write a character you want them to like.

So how do you write a great villain? Here are some tips to get you started.

Pick a type

There are so many different types of villain you can choose to create in your stories, they might be psychotic killers, evil superheroes, superficial, snooty, nasty individuals who maliciously try and destroy other people’s happiness, and a whole range of different unsavoury characters in-between. Choosing your villain and figuring out how he or she will work in the story is all part of the fun.

Do your research

A great way to get a feel for how to write a fantastic villainous character is to read books of a similar style. Here you can get ideas and inspiration of how these wicked characters are used to enhance the plot, and the kind of behaviour, speech and action that they have. The more you read, the more inspired you will be.

Decide how much your reader should hate them

The most memorable villains are complex characters with as much depth and as many layers as the heroes of your story. Don’t neglect your villains, give them backstories and in-depth personalities.

In order for your readers to enjoy reading about the villain they need to be interesting and emotive, they need to demand attention and provoke a reaction.

Deciding what you want that reaction to be will help you craft your evil character, so do you want your readers to feel repulsed and afraid, or do you want them in some way to empathise with your villain, to feel sorry for them?

There is no reason why you can’t create a character that is completely unlikable, who is bad to the bone, who never shows any remorse for their actions, but the important point to remember is that your readers still need to want to READ about them, and if they don’t, it could ruin your entire story.

Decide how they will end

Your villain plays a hugely important role in determining what kind of book you are trying to write. If they succeed in their evil schemes, defeat the hero, or prevent goodness from happening then your book will have quite a different feel to one where, even if right at the last minute, your villain is defeated.

You don’t necessarily need to see your villain overcome by the end of the book, but if you don’t then make sure your readers are prepared for it!

Push the boundaries

If you want to make a truly original or despicable bad guy then you need to come up with unique ways of doing so. Don’t be afraid to shock your readers and push the boundaries of what they have come to expect in a villain. If you do they will be all the more interesting and exciting to read.

Creating a fantastic and memorable villain is hard work, but thoroughly rewarding and lots of fun too. It's not often to we get to explore the darker side to our creativity so just run with it, use these tips to guide you, and see what kind of evil bad guy you can come up with!

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

Bethany Cadman -author of 'Doctor Vanilla's Sunflowers'

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