I’m just going to come out and say it, I love villains!
Almost as much as I love anti heroes.
For me, a super man type of hero is boring. Really, really boring. There is nothing interesting (to me) about a person who wakes up and goes looking for evil to defeat. No one is that much of a boy scout in real life! People have natural darkness in them.
It’s like when a natural disaster hits, Like Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Hurricane Katrina caused over 108 billions dollars (US$) in damages and over one thousand people died. During this time, the law kinda fell to the side. It was then we saw human nature at it’s finest. A lot of people would never dream of stealing from others. But when the city you live in is about to be destroyed by a cat 5 hurricane, you might consider stealing food or water when you run out. Or gas from another person’s car so you can escape the flooding.
Anyway, so what makes a good Villain?
I’ve heard a lot of stuff over the years and here’s what I think.
Number one, avoid cliches. Yes, it looks cool when you have your character dress in all black. But come on, everyone does that. Be more original. Don’t have the villain be an idiot, don’t have the henchmen be an idiot. We’ve seen it before, show us something new.
Number two, get inside the villain’s head. The most interesting villains I’ve ever seen are the ones who believe they are the hero. Really! Why? Because they are not the ones who wake up, laugh manically and go to work at 2EVIL4U. These are the ones who believe what they are doing is right. They might accept that some of the ways they achieve their means are not the best, but it will all work out in the end.
For an example, the book “My sister’s Keeper” By Jodi Picoult. (If you haven’t read, please go do). Minor spoilers, the mother in this book, Sara, has a daughter who has a rare kind of leukemia. She and her husband then have another daughter so they can use the blood from her placenta to help their sick daughter. However, as the younger one grows older, they have to resort to having her help her sister again and again.
In a speech late in the book, Sara acknowledges how it isn’t fair for the younger girl to be used as a spare parts bit. But Sara says Was it crazy? Was it moral? Kind? Fair? I’m not sure, but I know. It was the only chance I had to keep both of them.”
Clearly, Sara doesn’t see herself as a villain. But I still find it interesting she’s painted as one by so many people. Despite she’s just someone who’s trying her hardest to save her daughter’s life.
Number three: Show us more. I always want to see more about a villain and their backstory. What was their breaking point? No one wakes up and decides their going to go bad. What happened to them. Is there any part of them which is still good? Is there anything they still genuinely love and care about? Give us a good interesting backstory.
Stuff I hate seeing in villains.
I loathe seeing females villains who are villains because some boy was mean to her as a kid, or because of female friend drama. Come on. It’s been done to death, there’s gotta be other reasons.
Villains who were abused as children. Y-A-W-N. Been there, done that, saw the dead horse. Why are parents in backstories so mean?
And then of course, as number one, the general cliches. Please.
Anyway, that’s my list. You got anything to add? Let me know!