A Villain's Guide to Success

by , Thursday July 7, 2016
A Villain's Guide to Success

More on how to write villains that will make or break your story

a blog written by mystique_iris



Villains are all we need.


It is a truth universally acknowledged that a hero powerful and strong must be in need of a very evil villain. For a hero without a villain is like a heart without a beat.


Sometimes in a story, the villain is the most important character of your story - even more important than your hero, and well then it’s the hardest character to write as well. Most writers don't take enough time to get to know their villain and skim over them when comes to character development. A hero without a challenge is just a normal human being. So, to make a epic hero story, we need to have an atrociously evil villain to complete it.


Here are some basic suggestions on how to make your readers love your villain:


Decide how evil your villain needs to be

Does your villain need to be purely evil? Or does he live in shades of grey? The answers lie in the type of genre you are writing in. Usually in fantasy or fairytales, it is more traditionally accepted for the villain to be purely evil, like the Queen in Snow White or like Valentine in the mortal instruments. But that need not be true for some stories.


Now, if you are writing something contemporary or realistic, you can't make your villain completely evil as it looks unrealistic. You can make them mentally unstable, psychotic, or sociopathic but there should always be a reason behind such villains.


Your Villain’s past 

People don't just wake up one morning and decide to be evil. Explore the moment when your villain decides to be a villain. What was the reason? Was he abused? Betrayed? Abandoned?


Now, to make it more real. Ask how was your villain before his current situation. What was his upbringing like? Was he always evil? Or was he once respected and honoured? What caused his downfall? Our past shapes our future, and in this case, our story. Explore the villain even if you don't write much about them in your story so you can understand him or her better to write a great story.


Villains are not robots

 We often miss the fact the Villains are people too, but sometimes we ignore these facts because of their ruthless and inhuman practices. It's important to humanise your Villains. Give him hopes, dreams, fears, weaknesses, and even positive traits or a sympathetic quality. People are a mix of good and bad, and writing a villain this way makes them more realistic and frightening because they could be anyone—even us!



So, develop your villain in as much depth as your hero.


Make us loathe your villain 

Your villain should give readers the chills and fill them with loathing. We should be afraid of what they are capable of and what they might do to the hero. You can do that by the following points.


Make the Villain really skilled at whatever he does.

Make him even more powerful than the hero. This will make the best page-turner as readers will want to know what they will do to the hero and how the hero will fight it.

Make your villain a hypocrite. Their dirty deeds are done in secret but they wear a halo in public and pretend to be righteous and innocent.
Or make your villain a traitor like Hans in Frozen.


Back-up your villain

If your Villain just sits in a chair and gives orders, cursing the hero without doing anything scary at all, they are just your school teacher in this case.


You can’t just tell us that your villain is evil—you need to show us! We need to see them actually doing evil things, not just hearing them or other characters talk about it. You know how they say seeing is believing? We need to witness what your villain is capable of. Villains can't always lose, they win some battles too. Show us and don't let your hero get away all the time, let your hero suffer a little too.


Make your Villain smart and a hero

 Now, this is the most important point.


Make your villain cunning in order to make them more intimidating. Give them a plan that is impossible to circumvent, that can only be achieved when you think like a villain. This increases tension by making readers wonder if the hero will be able to defeat the villain. Smart villains make for a more interesting story too!


Your villain is the hero of their own story...so treat them like one! I know this is hard. You don’t like your villain, you want your hero to win. But you need to make sure that your villain has a life of their own and isn’t just there to beat up on the hero. What are they doing “off stage” when your hero isn’t around?


Sometimes to add a real page-turner to your story, make the villain perfect or flawless when compared to the hero. Put them in a positive light to sow the seeds of suspicion in the reader as to who the real villain is and, in the end, explode it. Just like Dan Brown books, you don't know who is the real villain until the last line of the last paragraph of that godforsaken last page.



At that I put the pen down. Now shake the cobwebs off, use that giant and brilliant brain of yours and start cracklin! Remember, Villains are all we need. 



Thank you to mystique_iris for writing this bog post and designing the banner!


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