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Who are the Bad Guys you Love to Hate?
M Tucker
Posted: Thursday, August 25, 2011 11:08 PM
Joined: 8/9/2011
Posts: 13

I finally have a story in the works but I've come to a head in the plot building: the Bad Guy. I need to know who will take that staring role before I get too far in or I'll be re-writing a lot. This led to my husband and I talking/debating over the subject of Bad Guys for nearly 2 hours; so naturally, I had to ask the community too!

What I would like to know is - when reading Fantasy, what feels more satisfying in the end?

The Old God/Cuthulu-esque/Pure Evil-type creature that can't be killed just entombed?
The Villainous Outsider who wants revenge, has his own justification that you can almost understand, and love to hate?
The Power-mad Demigod with no redeeming characteristics at all, that just won't die, but when he does you literately find yourself yelling, "You so deserved that, you bastard..."?

KJ Bledsoe
Posted: Friday, August 26, 2011 5:02 PM
Joined: 4/28/2011
Posts: 11

I definitely prefer the Villainous Outsider! Or rather, any bad guy who has a strong motivation and maybe thinks they're doing the right thing. In the real world, most villains don't see themselves as such -- in their version of the story, they're the hero. This can be a little bittersweet, in the end -- if the reader has developed some sympathy for the bad guy, the good guys' victory can be tinged with a hint of regret. Best is the "there but for the grace of God" feeling, if the bad guy is similar to the good guy in some way.

On the other hand, I also love villains who are just plain evil, but with such charm that you love hating them. They've got style, they love what they do, and they're completely unrepentant. You almost want that kind to stick around, just because they're so much fun (in that evil kind of way).

I'm less a fan of the implacable, can't be killed kind of bad guy. It's very satisfying when the heroes manage to best them, however.
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Friday, August 26, 2011 6:25 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

Oh god, that is a hard one. I guess it really depends on the character's personality. I know that sounds like a cheap answer to get out of making a decision, but for me that is what it really comes down to. While the Villainous Outsider does make for some great villains who usually have the best personalities to love and hate, sometimes the ones who are the hardest to kill (or not kill at all) are the biggest threat. While a story has the potential to keep going in circles with a villain like this, if the villain is done right than the reader (or watcher, because movies can have great villains) should feel a void when this villain is no longer around. I guess that goes for all three types. The villain is a character in itself. Yes most fit into a certain archetype, but for me that doesn't matter. Sorry if that doesn't help much.

I will add another kind of villain, but I'm sure that you don't have this kind in your story. The Redeemed Bad Boy. Now this type can be awfully cliche if not done right. My favorite kind of these are the ones who "join" to good side, but remain almost as twisted as they were when they were slaughtering people and burning villages even though they may no longer partake in such practices. Its even better if they don't care about their salvation, yet do have the capacity to show kindness/compassion/(other synonym). The reason why I bring this type up is because even though someone may be working with the hero/protagonist, he might even be friends with the hero, but they can still be a bad dude.
Posted: Friday, August 26, 2011 6:40 PM
Joined: 3/29/2011
Posts: 25

I think the most important thing is for your bad guy to have a legitimate reason for doing what he's doing. Even if he's the crazy/pure evil type who can't be killed, he still needs a motivation. It doesn't necessarily have to be a GOOD motivation, but it should be believable. It could be something completely contrary to what a normal, sane human being would do, but we still have to believe that the villain is doing what he thinks is right. Nobody acts evil just for the sake of being evil.

That said, I tend to prefer the Villainous Outsider type where you almost feel bad for him.
M Tucker
Posted: Saturday, August 27, 2011 8:27 PM
Joined: 8/9/2011
Posts: 13

@LeeAnna - "...but I'm sure that you don't have this kind in your story."

Oh don't be so sure! I was toying with that actually. I love them all in their settings and that is why I am still chewing over which (or haw many!) I will use.

@CarrieM - You are absolutely right on the motivation point. Only exception there is the Old Gods... Cuthulu does what Cuthulu does out of pure desire to create chaos and evil and anxiety... sounds like my cat actually...
In any case, I was more or less asking the community out of curiosity and query (new types/twists) than for help picking one. My bad, it was like 3 am when I posted it! I need to edit and make that clear...
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Sunday, August 28, 2011 10:23 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

@MTucker: Glad to know that I can make good calls! The idea came to mind due to my husband's love of anime. I'm kind of on a little bit of an overload, so references just spew out. To think it started with a recut of Dragon Ball Z (because nothing is past a good edit). There are days where I realize I need to hook up the other TV. Most of them are at least good stories.
Posted: Monday, August 29, 2011 4:00 PM
Joined: 3/13/2011
Posts: 245

Even ancient gods have a reason for doing what they do. Someone made them that way or they encountered things that made them that way. Think about all the stories from mythology, how gods were told by an oracle that their kids would be their downfall so they did what they could to destroy those kids or prevent the births.

Every villain has a motivation, even if it's simply a motive that they think it's how they were born and the only thing they're capable of.

For me, I prefer the villain to be a 3D character, not just flat and there to provide a menace that the MC has to face down.

I tend to write quiet villains, quiet in that they're not noticeably manipulating things or antagonizing the heroes, but they're there. The heroes know they face a threat, they might not know exactly what form that threat takes, but it's there and unavoidable. Whether it's the villainous outsider, the demi-god bent on revenge, or the old god long-forgotten who just does what they do.
M Tucker
Posted: Monday, August 29, 2011 5:32 PM
Joined: 8/9/2011
Posts: 13

@steph - Well the Greek and Roman Pantheon they are depicted as being fallible from the get-go. They don't really fall into the category of "Old Gods" as I was referring to.
I have, in my many years of playing tabletop RPG, come across several a God that was the embodiment of Evil (and even sometimes a specific type of evil). Their motivation was chaos and suffering for the sake of it. It fed them and thus gave them more powerful to do more evil things. No one made them either, they just 'were', an integral part of the balance of reality. Even if they answered to/were made by a greater evil, that evil's reason and agenda was the same - to be the balance to Good.
I love these kind of Bad Guys, personally; for when the MC realizes it is not something they can truly kill they must grapple with that realization and deal (physical representations of inner struggle kinda thing). These Baddies are great for character driven stories!
LeeAnna Holt
Posted: Monday, August 29, 2011 9:03 PM
Joined: 4/30/2011
Posts: 662

@Tucker: I agree that Evil that exists for the sake of Evil is a great thing for character driven stories. Balance is key to any great story, but personally I have alway preferred a Baddie that is not a god, but can be just a evil. There are people in this world who do harm just for the sake of it. Even when they are dead, their actions can still have a strong psychological impact on a character for a long time. I myself have created a villain who seems to not have any purpose, yet the MC is who she is because of him (well, partly). I believe that it depends on how you spin it, like any good story.

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