Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Villains and I how I learned to love them

I had gotten a good grip on character development for a protagonist, hero, anti-hero, side characters, sidekicks... just about everything except villains.
My understanding of villains, I'm not proud to admit, was superficial. I had a lesson to learn and any villain I tried to create ended up coming across as yet another random bad guy. And I honestly didn't know why.

I made my villains as evil as possible, I didn't hold back with anything graphic, violent, etc, so what was the problem? I couldn't put my finger on it for the longest time until my latest book.

Every villain needs to have a flaw, which I already knew, it was my choices of flaws that was the problem.

Villain happens to be serial killer? So what? That within itself isn't a flaw, as I've learned. It's a purpose, an occupation, but not a flaw.

Then it dawned on me. Flaws and character development for antagonists are exactly the same as they are for protagonist. It's just the other side, the mirror image, if you will. Two opposite sides of the same coin.

Once I understood that, I understood the right choices for flaws.

Laziness, sloth, greed, selfishness, the list goes on. This opened up a lot for me and help make the story much more well-rounded. It can be any flaws, and there can be more than one, but it has to be a flaw that people (the readers) can relate to. If I really wanted to be creative about it, I could give a villain a flaw that would be positive under any other circumstances. Yearnings for love, fame, riches. A lot of possibilities.

I truly believed if I made a villain more human, give them a flaw, then they wouldn't be villains anymore. I was pleasantly surprised to see I was wrong. Giving the villain a flaw that's easily understood, made the character more of a villain. It twisted around my thinking. I was shocked by how well it worked.

I learned to love the villain. I could feel his pain. Sounds cheesy, I know, but it's true. I could sympathize with him.

I think this is why I held myself back with character development for a villain for so long.

I didn't want to relate to the f*ckers.

But it's too late to go back now. I'm here, I've learned, I'm moving onward and forward.


  1. Have you ever tried giving villians positive characteristics, something like kind to animals? I can imagine that'd make your character (and writing) more interesting, if done well.

  2. I definitely plan on exploring villians with positive flaws (or a positive trait that turns out to be a flaw). I love a good creative challenge, and I'm always searching for new ways to take things to the next level.


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