What makes a good villain? Pure evil? A character who enjoys inflicting misery on others for the fun of it? Someone who carries out evil without purpose. Nah. No way. Characters like those are one dimensional, flat, and not worthy of the hero and/or heroine.
A good villain will elevate the hero/heroine and a badly crafted villain will detract from the hero/heroine.
So how do you make a good villain? A good villain is intelligent, and capable of performing/pulling off his (I’m using male gender but it could also be a female villain) evil of choice. He should also be capable of winning. How much suspense can you have if there is no doubt the hero or heroine is going to win over the villain?
Another important part of building a good villain involves his reasons for making the choices he does. A good villain should believe he is doing the right thing. His motives should be solid and justified, at least to him. The villain should see himself as smart and worthy of winning over the hero/heroin who is the villain of his story (remember, he is the hero of his story).
These are the qualities of a dangerous villain and one who can generate more suspense and keep readers turning pages, and we always want that.
Resist the urge to pile on over the top evil for the sake of making the villain frightening. A villain capable of being evil who is intelligent and thinks he is doing the right thing will take you a lot further. Someone who believes he is in the right is justified. A character who thinks he’s justified has motives and reasons for his actions, even if they are only logical to him. This kind of character is stronger and makes your story stronger.
Just make sure you don’t make him so justified and worthy that readers start rooting for him against your hero and/or heroine.
What makes a good villain for you? Any favorite traits or behaviors?
~ Nickie Asher ~
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