Oh yes my favourite part of writing horror. The villain. The antagonist. The creature of the dark who stalks their prey with nothing more than malice and a sick, twisted mind. *cue scary music
Okay no that’s not at all what I will be doing. Instead, think of a villain you hate and ask yourself why your hate them. Is it because of what they do? Who they are?
Do you understand why they do what they do?
If you take a look at a lot of villains, from the Joker to the Wicked Witch of the West to Megatron, there is more to their villainy than just pure evil. Each one has some sort of goal, and the only real difference between them and the hero, is that they don’t mind doing the dirty work to achieve that goal. (except you Captain Jack Sparrow – damn pirates). Like an athlete who is willing to trip their competitor (or break their ankle) beforehand in order to win the race.
Also, it’s important to humanize the villain. It makes them relatable and likable, which means you’ll hate/love them more for it. So, how do we do that?
Creating the Perfect Villain
Last week’s post “Genre Writing: Crafting a Character” can be applied to creating the perfect villain. Individuality, motivation, conflict, character flaws and strengths. You must know who they are before they became a villain. Who they are during their villainy, and who they become afterwards.
No one likes a boring character, let alone a boring villain. So how do you make them interesting? Well, you make them complicated. Consider your own personality, life, character traits, faults and successes. Are they all simple? I hardly think so.
Here you consider the intellect of your villain. Are they simple-minded with focus on a single goal and nothing else. Or are they highly intelligent and able to manipulate, and figure out ways to reach their goals. Nothing bores me more than a villain who doesn’t seem to have thought things through and keeps getting foiled (unless its for comedic effect, though even that has limits).
At the same time, when you compare a zombie to a vampire, you can see how both these undead entities vary in intelligence and yet both those attributes are scary in their own way.
Is your villain angry all the time? Why? Can someone be perpetually angry? Or sad. Or bitter. Or paranoid. Etc. You should know how your villain will react when they receive they favourite thing or when they lose it. You should know if your villain could fall in love and what would happen if they were abandoned by the love of their life.
Remember, they do not have villainous thoughts 24/7 after all, even Professor Moriarty spent time reading and drinking tea.
Has your villain been the same as a child or did they grow up to become the Great-Big-Bad? Some, like Dexter (the serial killer cos the other Dexter is still a child sooooo) were born that way, and we see him killing neighbourhood animals as a child. Compared to Anakin Skywalker who was good and his fears drove him to the dark side, leading to him becoming Darth Vader (spoiler?). Was it the old battle of “Nature vs Nurture”? Was it a natural path for them to take? What has happened from their formative years to drive them into villainy?
As it stands, my antagonist is just a concept. A creature who feeds on the regrets and past failings of your every day Jane/John Doe. I only realised later how close this creature is to a Dementor except Dementors can’t time travel. And they are blind. And they suck the soul out. And float about in dark cloaks. It’s the whole
“they glory in decay and despair, they drain peace, hope and happiness out of the air around them.”
That part. That’s very similar to my antagonist.
Of course there is a slight twist to the tale and to tell you what that twist is, is to ruin the coming novel so I’ll leave it there. Nonetheless it will incorporate the multidimensional aspects of character building, which means this won’t be no regular demon of the night. It will be something worse. Something… terrifying.
How’s your’s NaNo prep going? Did you find my advice useful? Do you have a villain in your story? What are they like in one sentence?
Thanks for dropping by!
I love this post, Nthato!
I think villains are for the most part a vague concept created to provide conflict. It’s always nice when the villain is relatable as well.
My villains in the NaNo novel I’m working on vary from the everyday scumbag to the supernatural entity that passes as a demon. But all of them have been crafted to have multi-dimensional personalities and reasons for doing what they do.
Glad you enjoyed the post! Villains need to have as much focus as the hero, since their conflict drives the story forward.
Looking forward to seeing what you come up with. You had me at “My villains…” So I’ll be keen to see what you come up with.
Good luck with your NaNo and the Treasure Hunt!
Thank you! I’m looking forward to seeing what nightmares my villains will give me too!
Treasure Hunt! *EXCITEMENT IS TOO MUCH!*