Writing Q&A: Villains.

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Villainy is fascinating.

As a writer, it is also one of the biggest challenges I’ve ever faced. Not much of my short stories and first two novels have real villains, per se.

I’m one of those writers who pen stories that revolve around Situational Villainy. Which means, the villains in most of my stories aren’t usually people.

This is because I write contemporary fiction, and that means my stories are much like real life. For my protagonists, the biggest villains are choices, decisions and the situations they are presented with, in life.

If you’re a writer who’s writing  Fantasy, Sci-Fi or even Historical Fiction, you’d need a Villain.  And only after you finish the first draft, will you realize that creating a believable hero – that’s easy.

But creating a believable villain – that’s where you’d need to pool in all your imagination and logic, fuse them together, and spend the next two years of your life writing him or her out.

In order to create a Villain, you need to be certain about the fact that the readers find the Villain realistic and can understand them.

My favorite kind of villains are the ones that you can understand.

Not like, Not agree with, but understand.

It’s only when you understand a villain, they become a lot more frightening.

Their actions terrify you,because you know the circumstances that led them up there, and worse still, you’re afraid that those circumstances could easily happen to you as well.

As a reader, the minute you begin to  empathize with a villain, you’re hooked.

Second, you need to make them realistic.

And in order to explain this in detail I’m going to use Disney movies as an example because,  I’m a matured adult :p

Let’s take Ursula, from the Little Mermaid and Gaston from Beauty and the Beast – between these two, the one that scares me the most, isn’t Ursula with her fearsome eels, but Gaston.

Gaston

Yes, Gaston.

I am terrified of Gaston, because he’s only human.

He doesn’t have any magical powers, and neither does he use technology to control people.

He is just a bad man.

And that is exactly why I am terrified of him. The reason being this. Once the movie is over, I can walk out, knowing that the chances of me meeting Ursula in real life, is very, very low.

But Gaston?

I could easily meet a brute, arrogant man who thinks women are just possessions, and uses the loopholes of the society to cause emotional and physical damage to anybody who stops him from getting his way.

It easy moving on to real life, after reading about Villains who are witches, controllers of dark magic,  fire breathing dragons and Super Intelligent Alien Robots, because you know you are not going to meet them anyway.

Gaston, however, is a villain that could, (and actually does) exist outside of his movie.

That right there is the essential element of fear you need to keep your readers absolutely terrified. (I sound Evil. I know.)

So, now that we’ve got the elements that make a Villainous Villain, covered, let’s get to the types of Villains. I want to keep this post as short as possible, and thus I’m going to stick to three major types of villains.

  1. The Distraction. 

Snape_As_He_First_Sees_Harry_1

This Villain, is like Severus Snape, and is perhaps the most ancient trick in the book! This person isn’t actually a villain. The readers are so focussed on hating this person, that they fail to notice the real Villain, and you’ve gotten yourself a plot twist in the end!

Half the times, you need to make this person evil – but not as evil as the main villain. Just enough to make the readers loathe them should do. In short, this person should be a jerk with a heart of gold.

       2. The Prejudiced Malfoys.  

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Yes, this is going to be one of those posts where I use Disney and Harry Potter to explain an adult issue – because like I said, I’m a matured grown up that way :p

This is the kind of Villain is – for the lack of a better word – a common type of arse you see everyday.

They are mean spirited, entitled bullies who have very low self esteem and are using all that negativity to give your protagonist a tough time. The Malfoy is my favorite type of villain, because he is relevant and relatable. Every time a reader reads about Malfoy, they are instantly reminded of a jerk they met in their life.

This is a great trick to implement, because now everyone starts hating that character, and thus it makes your job as a writer a lot easier!

     3. The Actual Bad Guy.       

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This is the big, powerful and super scary bad guy who is evil, terrifying and nearly impossible to defeat.

This is The Villain.

You need to be spending all your time and efforts in crafting this person, and the good news is that you have a wide array of shapes and sizes to chose from.  You can have Criminals, Serial Killers, Ghosts, Monsters, Demons, Psychotic Scientists, Aliens and million other choices!

They are more than just bullying jerks. They are powerful and horrifying.

So, that’s the three major types of Villians.

Don’t forget to draw from your personal experiences and create a Villain. Think of all the petty people you’ve met in life. People who gave you a hard time, made you feel small and insignificant.

Draw from those experiences.

What did they say or do, that really got you hurt and offended?

Use them.

All those emotional scars and damage you’ve been carrying around? Writing a Story out of them is a great way to avenge them.

This is why I keep telling people they should never fuck with writers. We could easily describe you, and put you in a book as a Villain that our readers would love to hate.

XOXO,

Bala.

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11 Comments

  1. Ur article about crafting a “Perfect Vaude-Villian” was almost Perfect.

    But “Behind every successful man, there’s a Violent Lady” ~ Anonymous

    *Sorry, Silent

    Which character can you base a Great Hero-in from ?

    ~é big Variant hiKes

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