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The Villainous Villain!
Nevena Georgieva
Posted: Thursday, November 21, 2013 1:06 PM
Joined: 2/9/2012
Posts: 438

There is one trope in SF/F & other genre fiction that I have a gripe about: grotesquely villainous villains


I get it: a hero is only as good as the villain is bad. To raise the stakes and supercharge the conflict in their pieces, writers often need a larger-than-life villain that readers can really hate. But... the hardest part is to give that character sufficient motivation to do really bad things. He or she can't be just evil for no reason. 


I'm reading THE DARWIN ELEVATOR - a wonderful sci fi adventure with zombie-like creatures and alien invasion-type stuff. Yet the bad guy--a guys called Russell Blackfield--annoys the heck out of me. He's a deplorable human being: he's brutal to his subordinates, sexist toward women, and generally has an alarming tendency to abuse people. He's the essence of evil and is completely consumed by his thirst for power. I can't stand him!


What examples of villainous villains have you encountered in your reading, and what strategies do you guys use to craft a "good" villain?





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--edited by Nevena Georgieva on 11/21/2013, 1:06 PM--

Posted: Monday, January 19, 2015 10:37 PM
Joined: 1/19/2015
Posts: 11

For me I try to craft my villain's to be real people. There plans are big but the villain's start small and gain the power to make there plans a reality as they progress through my story's. I try to craft my villain's in such a way that they can be viewed as people who are just misguided individual's thinking that they are doing the right thing but in the end they all fall to there sin's.
Zach Heher
Posted: Monday, January 19, 2015 11:28 PM
To create the ultimate villain I picture a person and I take away any sense of remorse, morality, and humanity. He believes that humanity is a cancer and it is his/her only goal to permanently remove that disease. A pure sociopath if you will.

Amber Wolfe
Posted: Tuesday, January 20, 2015 8:08 AM
Joined: 7/24/2014
Posts: 539

Hmm . . . creating the perfect 'good' villain. That's a tough one.


In my WIP Destiny's Bond, my main Heroine carries the soul of a mortal and the soul of a Goddess who represents the Purity and Light in life. Although Destiny--the mortal consciousness--doesn't understand her drive to protect the innocent and spread her healing light through the lands--which only surfaces later in the book--she has to give into it, as she can do no other. Her desire stems from the Goddess, and she must obey her heart.


So my Villain, Fate, in a sense, is her opposite, the Goddess who represents all that is Sin and Dark. She's wicked to the core, and seeks to drench Drugara in taint. She's nasty and willing to go to any lengths to extinguish Destiny's life, so she can transform Drugara into a realm of gloom and despair. She is evil incarnate.


Now, if this wasn't the case--If I were writing a different novel, where my villain was human--I'd have to give reason for it, a backstory and possible redeeming quality. But since this is literal 'good versus evil', I don't. My villain is evil. Simple as that.

Amanda Kimberley
Posted: Wednesday, January 28, 2015 11:36 AM
Joined: 11/30/2011
Posts: 69

I think a "good" villain is one that you can understand. If the villain is driven by power, revenge, or greed, the reader can relate to that in some small way via the back story. I also think the villain has to develop into an evil being throughout the book. As you read about the killing sprees, over-powering others, or simply about the sneering the villain does, you, the reader, develops a reason to also hate this villainous character. If a writer can achieve both of those, I truly believe you will have readers loving to hate your villains. That's the best kind of love-hate relationship to have.

Posted: Tuesday, June 16, 2015 10:48 AM
Joined: 6/10/2015
Posts: 26

I think that this question is popping up in recent years because we're thinking about villains in a new way. I'm sure there are many examples, but the one that popped into my mind is Elphaba from WICKED. More recently, the Frozen movie has a similar story (has almost exactly the same story...?) and there are probably a lot less obvious examples but the point is that we're no longer satisfied with the generic villain like the Wicked Witch of the West. When the story was first published, maybe readers didn't even ask "why is she wicked?" (and if they did, the answer would be "Because she just is. It's in her name, obviously"). Now, we need more background story. We need to see her perspective. 


Personally, this is a trend that I quite like. I want to know if the villain is only villainous because of their personal history or maybe some misconceptions about how things "should" be. I like when the hero and the villain get a bit mixed up; the hero has to do something bad or the villain does something good.

Posted: Monday, November 9, 2015 4:50 PM
Joined: 4/26/2013
Posts: 3

I love this! I recently finished rereading Robin Hobb's Liveship trilogy and she writes some of the best villains I've ever read. Most people in her books are seen as villains not because they're particularly bad, but because their goals go against the protagonists. Sure, there are some bad bad guys, but for the most part it's people with conflicting goals, which I love. Having an antagonist who could have been a protagonist in another story is just very interesting to me.


Here's a more in depth look at how I think villains should be written: http://bridgettemabuto.com/5-tips-for-writing-a-believable-villain/


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