My Favoite Villain? by J Vincent

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Villain.  Favorite? Not two words I would usually put together. In fact, when I read the topic my dimwittedness showed in a muttered, “Huh?”  Several moments, rather days later, I had to admit I could recall very few villains. In a lot of the books I read, character flaws are the “villains.”  In my favorite murder mysteries, the killer is the villain.  I find very little to admire or like in any of those. The only villain I could originally think of as anything close to favorite is Donatien in my Honour Series. When I contemplated why I decided it was because I have been in his mind and skin far deeper than in any book I’ve ever read.  He has surprised me by being good as well as evil when I didn’t think there was an ounce of good in him.  Perhaps he’ll turn out to be like Charles-Maurice de Talleyrand-Périgord, prince de Bénévent.  Tallyrand was initially a bishop in pre-revolutionary France.  He joined the heroes of the Terror, changed once again in the Directory and then again when Napoleon declared himself Emperor.  Tallyrand even managed to forge a place for himself in the Bourbon Restoration after Napoleon’s defeat.  He would make an excellent villain.

So, what makes a good villain.  Taking a page from Penny’s always informative posts, I did some searching. 

Villainous Characters  begins with the definition:  "The classic villain is the antithesis of the  hero, being bad where the hero is good, selfish where the hero is selfless, harming others where the hero saves them.” This opposite-ness is particularly useful in the contrast that it provides between the hero and the villain. In this way, they each define the other.”  There follows eighteen villain types with brief definitions.

On Some Loose Change: A Movie Blog I found a very interesting article A Dime On: 10 Traits of Highly-Effective Villains. In short:

1.         How strong/powerful they are.

2.         How they used said strength and power.

3.         How they are defeated.

4.         Their character and motivations.

5.         Ironic Origins and Relationships with the Hero

6.         Composure

7.         The Distinctive Look

8.         Ruthless Conviction

9.         Mystery

10.       Being “Relatable”


The innovateus site has an article  What are the Characteristics of a Good Literary Villain? which may clarify the villain image.


On Mythic Scribes I found a very precise definition which you should read in full.  This article condenses traits of villainous traits to  “Powerful. Intelligent. Immoral. Wounded. Determined” adding that they are not meant to be all inclusive.


All this information got me thinking.  I’ve learned or rather re-learned, quite a bit about villains. What I need to find somewhere in my mind is a villain on a book like the movie villain Darth Vadar in Star Wars.  Or the Wicked Witch in Oz. Here’s a site that gives one version of a Top 50 Literary Villains. Check it out and see if any of the make your list.




Penny Rader said...

Thanks for sharing such super links, Joan. I'm looking forward to going back and delving further into the articles.