I love getting other writers’ takes on how they create their villains, especially when the temptation is to make them purely bad. As a character driven writer and reader, I want to pity them, hate them, and understand them all at once. That’s a pretty steep order for a writer to fill.
This Wednesday, I thought we’d get Christine Cunningham’s view on villains, and she offered up a nice little list of things to consider when building the second most important character in a novel.
Creating a Realistic Villain
I just finished writing a character that gives me the creeps. I don’t usually delve into the darker side of writing, but it was a challenge from a fellow writer. It’s awfully hard for me to resist a challenge.
I found out a few things as I began writing:
- 1. Heroes and villains aren’t that different.
- 2. If you want something that society has deemed evil you are a villain.
- 3. A villain has people in their life that love them.
- 4. A villain might be a person we secretly admire because they break rules, we are afraid to break.
- 5. A villain or a hero is the unique person that stands out from the crowd.
- 6. A hero or a villain can influence people to trust them.
A hero or a villain wants something desperately, and it’s only how they choose to go about getting it that makes them a hero or villain. Was Robin Hood a hero or a villain? His actions led to a socially acceptable outcome; therefore, he’s a hero. Were Bonnie and Clyde heroes? The actions those two perpetrated against society make them villains. They are villains in most people’s eyes, that is. That’s the point I’m trying to make. People are normal until they do something out of the ordinary. Think about someone who you believe is a villain in your life. Now discard all the evil tendencies and see their normal human traits. Reapply the evil tendencies with the normal human traits. That’s a realistic villain.
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What do you do to help yourself write your villains real? What are your traps you fall into without thinking?
As always, I (and today Christine) welcome your comments and critiques. And if you like the post, please do consider sharing using any of the little buttons below.