Skip to main content

5 Tips to Writing Villains

Almost any story you write needs a bad guy or woman, someone to be defeated or whose deeds have thwarted the hero and heroine.  Sometimes they can be a machine, an alien race from another planet, a deadly bunch of vampires or a whole slew of zombies.

But more often than not, your protagonists are taking on one dastardly dude or some underhanded woman. How can you make them come alive without meeting all the clichés.

Try some of these ideas and you might find yourself coming up with new villains.

  1. Use your hero/heroine goals to build a villain – This is rather simple. What does your hero want? A new job? To learn who killed the boss because he is being suspected?  If you use those goals, the villain will be diametrically at the opposite end of the spectrum. This is the person who is keeping your hero or heroine from getting what you want. That is what happens in most stories, but take it one step further. Make it personal as well. Bring that villain to life with his/her own backstory which shows why they might be battling the hero and why they want to keep the hero from attaining his goal. Hannibal Lector was an overall bad guy as a cannibal, but he zeroed in on Clarice Starling and Will Graham. He made his battle personal with both of them.
  2. Try the 7 Deadly Sins to create their bad traits – This is a good way to create a villain. Give your villain the sin of greed, pride, wrath or even gluttony to make him want to come down on your poor hapless heroes and heroines.
  3. Make villains loveable, sympathetic or redeemable – this can be a fun way to write a villain. Not everyone needs to be killed off and vanquished. Sometimes it is more fun to simply put the villain in his place or put a mirror to him and show him for who and what he is. This can be a real lesson for him. Or defeat him and make him wish he hadn’t been so bad. As for the sympathetic villain, I always find the Phantom of the Opera as someone who is very sympathetic. He is hideous and that has made it impossible for anyone to love him. Doesn’t it make it more understandable that he might go to any lengths to get his true love, Christine?
  4. Make your villains memorable – We all want our heroes and heroines to be remembered by the reader, but what about the villain?  If we are going to make our heroes strong, then the villains should be too.  Anyone can overcome a normal bad guy.  If you want to make your heroes come off as invincible, given them a worthy opponent to defeat and that should be the starting point for your villain. Make them so strong the reader doubts whether your heroine will beat him or her.
  5.  Keep future stories in mind – do you want your villain to survive and come back to fight another day?  Find clever ways or reasons for why the villain might survive this time around.  But if you choose to do that, let the hero or heroine still solve some sort of issue in this story. You don’t want to leave the reader hanging. Something must be resolved.
    But mostly when writing a villain, have a good time with them. You can make them as mean and dastardly, or cowardly as you want. Remember you get to destroy them at the end so make it an exercise that stretches you as a writer.


Popular posts from this blog

5 Tips for Writing Romantic Suspense

My writing career started off as a romance writer but I soon got the urge to write suspense as well. As I explain to friends and readers, those bodies just started falling and they kept turning up in strange places to ruin my romances until I couldn't very well ignore them. I had to include them in my romance stories and have my hero and heroine not only fall in love but solve the crime too.

Why write romance and romantic suspense? The combination can be fun. Just when things get slow in the romance, I can always have the suspense ratchet up because someone is either in danger or gets killed.  The same is true in suspense. When the heroine thinks all she has to do is solve the crime, suddenly some guy enters the picture and she has to deal with all these strange romantic feelings.  The treachery by an author never relents!  We love to torture our heroes and heroines and test them every way we can.  Shove a problem in their way and then let them get out!  So what do you need t know…

5 Tips to Creating Characters

Let's focus on Characters!  I absolutely love to create new characters. Creating them from scratch can seem like a daunting prospect, but you don't need to do all the work. Look around! Use what you know and who you know. This is your chance as a writer to make that boyfriend with the small irritations into a perfect man ready for love. Or you can make that awful boss over into the total idiot you think she is and next she is the one who gets killed or fired. All you have to do is exaggerate some of those terrible faults or correct the bad ones. 

Okay, that sounds like such a delightful exercise, but there are other things to consider as you go about making up new characters.  You want them to be lifelike, but what could be easier than looking around you.  Here are five tips for creating characters.

1. Use what or who you know. This is where that boyfriend or boss comes in.  Look at the people around you and by taking their worst or best attributes you can begin to frame a rea…

5 Tips to Writing Dialogue

Recently I was talking to someone who wanted to try her hand at writing fiction, but she feared having to write dialogue. She said she could write passages of character description and location easily and she could even come up with ideas for scenes. But she feared having to make the characters speak.  As we continued to talk I began to show her how she could approach the problem.
“Think about what we’re doing,” I told her. “We’re sitting here.We’re drinking a glass of wine, and we’re talking.”
“But how would I do dialogue?” she asked. “How can I put words in other character’ mouths?”
I am repeating this conversation because that was my first lesson to her as I began to consider how to show her how to write dialogue.
11. Learn the proper punctuation and how dialogue is written in a passage. That is a good part of what was bothering her. She wasn’t certain of the formatting, and as I showed how it was done, that took away some of her misgivings.
2    2. Listen to other people’s conversation…