A Villain-ing We Shall Go (Penny Rader)

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Happy Halloween!

My apologies for posting so late.

Since we've been discussing our favorite villains this month I thought I'd check out the internet to see what sort of tips I could find for villains.  Below are a few bullet points of what I found.

Please click through the links to read the entire articles. The authors have some really great suggestions.

And, as always, if you find something helpful, save it or print it because you never know when it might disappear from the 'net.
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3 Traits Your Hero and Villain Should Share (K.M. Weiland)

  1. Personality
  2. Values
  3. Goals

Guide to Writing a Villain

  • Name
  • Background
  • Personality
  • Morality
  • The 9 Alignments
  • Motive
  • How? Why?
  • Sympathize

Hannibal, Nurse Ratched, the Shark? Creating Your Villain (James Thayer)
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Roles of Villains:

  1. Adds tension
  2. Offers contrast
  3. Adds interest

Techniques for creating villains:

  1. Make him tough
  2. Make him understandable
  3. Make him odd
  4. Ration the badness

How to Create a Credible Villain in Fiction

  1. Start by reading Create a Fictional Character from Scratch 
  2. What's your story all about and how does a villain fit into the grand scheme of the story as whole? 
  3. Choose the degree of evilness or just plain "ick" you want to place into your villain. 
  4. Create a single, traumatic incident for your villain. 
  5. Expand on this singular incident. 
  6. Choose a single thing that the character adores without greed or malice.
  7. Combine the "turning point" and the "single thing" and bounce them back and forth in your mind.
  8. Take into account the hero of the story.
  9. Does the villain get eventually redeemed or does he stay a bad guy?
  10. Think of some fears
  11. Remember that a GOOD villain drives the conflict of the story.
  12. A good villain is still human.
  13. One last thing to remember is that the more evil and threatening a villain is, the more often their evil plans work.
  14. Only kill off the villain if they deserved it. 

How to Write a Villain (Mette Ivie Harrison)
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  1. What makes the villain evil?
  2. What does the villain want?
  3. How will the villain know that s/he has been successful?
  4. What is the world that will come about and what will be his/her place in it?
  5. What does the villain loves?
  6. What is the villain's weakness?
  7. What does the villain hate about the hero?

How to Write Better Heroes and Villains: Archetypes (Brian Klems)

The author gives several archetypes for women and men.  Also included are what the villain version of the archetype might be.  For example:

  • As a villain, the Seductive Muse becomes the Femme Fatale who deliberately uses her charms to control men
  • As a villain, the Matriarch becomes the Scorned Woman who is passive-aggressive and needs to be in control.
  • As a villain, the Businessman becomes the Traitor who will do anything to bring order into his life.
  • As a villain, the King becomes the Dictator whose need to control others becomes an obsession.

Villains: Because a Good Bad Guy Is the Author’s Best Friend (Hilari Bell)

A good villain must be:
  • Active
  • Smart
  • Sensibly motivated, and no worse than he has to be to achieve his goal 

The Villain’s Journey (Allison Brennan)
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  • Most villains don’t see themselves as bad. 
  • Disney villains are among the best villains out there … but they are clear and focused.
  • But my favorite villains are characters who aren’t all evil and, in fact, might play both sides of the coin. 
  • There are many other complex “villains” who aren’t really villains, but not necessarily good-guys either. 
  • Then you get a movie like FROZEN where you have layers of “villains.” 


Do you have special techniques for creating villains or references to share?


Judy Ann Davis said...

Hi, Penny. This was very good, concise and well-presented! I've always liked the idea that villains can have some good to them. You gave me some things to think about while I'm compiling my villain's character bio in the (nameless) romantic mystery I'm writing.

Penny Rader said...

Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Judy Ann. I wish you great success with your villain...and your romantic mystery! My favorite villains are those who can be redeemed. :D

Marlow Kelly said...

Thanks. I'm currently creating a villain so this was very helpful.

Penny Rader said...

Cool! Thanks for stopping by, Marlow. I appreciate it.

Abigail Owen said...

Love all the lists. Great resource. :)

Nina Sipes said...

Penny, I don't know how to write a villain. I've decided that from reading your blog. This could be why my writing seems to lack depth to me.

Joan Vincent said...

What thoroughly wonderful lists! I've printed some off because I know they will help craft better villains. You always do such a terrific job!