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Writing Tip: Creating A Credible Villain



You know we all love a bad boy. We all love them better in our stories. But can we write them? Today's tip talks about...

Creating a Credible Villain

by Renee Stevens

When creating a villain for your story, there are many things that need to be considered. Villains are not ALL bad. While they will have mostly flaws, they most likely will also have something about them that is good. This could be anything. A serial killer could also be a devoted family man. Your villain could be the go-to guy of the neighborhood, the one who watches the neighbor’s dog while they’re on vacation.

When creating your villain, you need to decide your villain’s depth of evilness. Some plots will require your villain to have more depth and loftier goals. If the goal is complete domination, then chances are your villain is going to have to be more complex, more evil. If the goal is to simply make everyone’s life miserable, your villain could be someone who is just a bully. A school bully who takes younger kids’ lunch money, or a corporate CEO who fires people for a single minor mistake. Make sure the degree of evilness is relevant to the plot of your story. Also, keep in mind, that the more demented your villain is, the more likely he will be to succeed in what he sets out to do.

Another thing to think of is, unless of course your villain is a demon that from the time of birth was evil, or a robot that was created to destroy a world, chances are that there is something in their past that was the turning point for them. What was this point for them? Maybe they watched their parents or spouse be brutally murdered. Maybe they were bullied in their teenage years. Be creative, but make this turning point be something that is believable. Whatever this point is, it's going to be the driving force behind your villain.

When creating your villain, you need to decide what the villain’s purpose is. What is his overall goal? Does he focus on people like your hero and just set out to thwart them? Or does he hatch plots and set forth to make his goals a reality while the hero’s job is to thwart him? Essentially, the question here is: who is trying to do the thwarting?

Once you have all of this, you need to decide what the outcome is going to be. Is your villain going to be evil until the end, by rejecting redemption, or does he end up being redeemed somehow? There should always be a chance of redemption, so you need to think of that throughout the story, because you will need to plant things throughout the story that show he is redeemable, especially if you plan to redeem him. Otherwise, a villain just suddenly becoming a good guy, it’s not going to believable to your readers and may leave them feeling confused at the end of your story.

Think also, about what fears and weaknesses your villain has. These are what is going to allow your hero to win in the end, if that is your ultimate goal. Even if you are going to have your villain win in the end, everyone has some sort of weakness. It might not even be something that the villain will readily admit to, but these are things that you can use throughout the story for the villain to overcome. If you are going to allow your hero to win in the end, then these are things that he will be able to exploit to ultimately win the day.

In the end, how you create your villain is up to you, but the above guidelines will help to create a believable villain. A couple other things to keep in mind are: your villain doesn’t have to lose every battle, your villain may hold a view that others can sympathize with, and with the exception of demons and things like them, many villains will have some good qualities as well as bad. Your villain is going to drive the story as much, if not more than, your hero.

Good luck with creating your villain!!!

Happy reading, writing, and reviewing!

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It seems to me that the most difficult villan to write about is the one that is only a little bit evil. Or perhaps to restate that, hides his evilness under a disguise of being a good citizen. The evil one who kicks small children and old ladies probably does not exist, and many villans believe they are really doing good in their lives. I recall the person I recently read about who was a dedicated Social Worker who hated 'gay' clients, and secretly rejoiced whenever she could place one in a bad home situation. It is much more difficult, and interesting to a reader, to have a villan who is only evil before 10:00 on every second Thursday.

Mr Will

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