Monday, June 27, 2011

The Bad Guys Need Attention Too

During my latest novel revision, I'm working on bringing out some of the secondary characters in my novel, including a villian.

It's so easy to rely on stereotypical villain traits and behaviours. Sneers. Evil stares. Rudeness. Threats, poisoning, locking the good guy away. I'm working on coming up with some truly unique ways to show his evil nature.

At the same time, I need to balance how much of his scheming to reveal. Since he's not the point of view character, I can't show his thoughts. His schemes are only obvious through his actions and the thoughts and reactions of the other characters. Neither one of these necessarily show the reasons for why he's behaving the way he does, even though the reader will eventually want to know.

Do you have any tips on creating a good villain?


  1. I enjoy villains that don't appear villainous. That blend in. That are so sly and sneaky they seem like a friend. But ones that the reader has clues to (like someone saw this...but no one believes they were up to anything bad) except the MC who has that sinking feeling....

  2. I think the best villains are ones that have likable features that sharply contrast their actions. No one is all consumingly evil, so revealing a villain's love of his family or pet, etc. gives depth to that character.

  3. Every time I develop what I think is the perfect villain, I end up liking him waaay too much!

  4. I love a villian who thinks that she isn't a villian. You know one that may have a valid reason for doing what she does even though it may be bad.

    Villians who are not really bad but maybe do bad things?

  5. Tana, you made me laugh! But we can like characters who are a little shifty too, right?

    Karen, it sounds like motivation is important in creating a good villain. I like Barbara's point too, about the character that appears not to be a villain, but is sly and sneaky. Sigh. So hard to pull off though!

    Julie, creating a good contrast between some of the character's personality traits and their actions sounds like a great strategy. Thanks!


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