There is something eerily appealing about the villain. They serve so many purposes. Yet, are always true to themselves. They’re the thorn in a happy ending. The catalyst for revenge. The scapegoat for things gone awry. The wrench in well-laid plans.
They’re the characters we hate, but ones we need. Without them the story would be just plain boring.
As with your heroine or hero, much care has to be taken in the villain’s development. After all, they’re not stupid people. In fact, most villains are educated and clever. I don’t want to hate a dumb villain! They wouldn’t give me the pleasure of hating them because they wouldn’t have the capacity to figure things out or be manipulative where they need to be.
One of the best reference books on writing villains is titled, “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches” by Jessica Page Morrell. The book breaks down the layers of an antagonist and demonstrates how to develop the best one for your story.
The antagonist or villain appears in all shapes and levels of wickedness. You may run across The Betrayer, the Gossip or the Liar or met The Power Hungry or Narcissist. And let us not forget the classic Cad or Femme Fatale.
The tactics of a villain are specific. As the book points out, “they don’t walk the walk, or talk the talk, they dare to perform the worst acts in order to make the most gains.” Some of their tactics include: taking extreme risks, controlling others by using guilt and loyalty or obsessing about details and a plan of attack.”
This describes a villain in one of my books to a tee. She’s a wicked, wicked woman–educated, business savvy, self-serving, manipulative, and vengeful. And get this, people love her! They marvel at how wicked she is, but look forward to everything she does throughout the book.
Villains are fun to write. And let’s face it, we all at one time or another enjoy reading about a dastardly deed and hoping that the villain gets their just deserts. For the most part, the antagonist gives readers a chance to walk on the dark side or get a glimpse of how evil truly lurks …lol
Just think of some of your favorite books or movies where you just couldn’t believe how evil they were. Yet, you couldn’t help but wonder what they’d do next. Here are a few of mine!
1. Hans Gruber, Die Hard
2. Hans Landa, Inglourious Basterds
3. Jack Torrence, The Shining
4. Annie Wilkes, Misery
5. Hannibal Lecter, The Silence of the Lambs
6. Norman Bates, Psycho
What I enjoy most about developing the villain is that you have license to decide their fate and whether or not they can be redeemed. Some are beyond redemption, yet others can see the errors of their ways. Who knows they may even earn their own book! Although that may be a challenging undertaking, it can be done.
If you’re struggling with the development of your antagonist, I highly recommend, “Bullies, Bastards & Bitches.” It will provide great insight and direction on how to create a well-rounded villain your readers will love to hate.