Saturday, July 27, 2013

Writing Villains

Judas - Fyodor Bronnikov

Upon deciding upon my daily blog post I promptly uttered an evil laugh and played the organ a bit to get in the mood. No I didn't do that exactly, but those who know me well know that designing villains is on my list of favorite things. Villains fascinate me because they tend to be the driving force of the plot. The heroes wouldn't have anything to fight if it wasn't for a villain. The villain is the force that makes the problems that the hero has to solve. So how on earth do we make a villain?

The villain should evoke some strong emotion out of the reader. And that emotion is fear. Fear of the villain is one of the elements that keeps the reader turning the pages. They want to know how on earth the heroes are ever going to win in the presence of such nefariousness. To do this a villain has to be believable. An unrealistic villain isn't going to scare anyone, because the reader could never imagine themselves being threatened by such a person.

So how does one write a realistic villain? Well the first question I would ask you is whether you villain is a sociopath or not. A sociopath has absolutely no sense of morality, which makes them an entirely different beast to deal with. Most villains are not sociopaths, most tend to have some sort of sense of morality even if it's been compromised. So we're not going to deal with him.

The fact is, many authors forget that their villains are humans. Since most authors are not the sort of people who would commit villainous acts themselves they have a hard time understanding that. For someone to murder, destroy and commit the unspeakable acts the a villain does they think that they have to be a inhuman monster. But no, villains are almost always very human monsters. It's not their inhumanity that makes them so evil, but rather their humanity.

See villains are people like us, with the same flaws, fears and desires. They're flaws have just been deepened. Where we might snap at a brother and sister, they break into torments of rage. Where we might get depressed, they might want to try and cast the whole world into darkness. But you see, our villains are humans just like us. They're darkness has just been taken to a whole new level.

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