Writing, Critique Partnerships and Other Stories

From a community of writers, critique partners and beta readers.

Apr 1, 2020

Writing a Worthy Villain

By Negus Lamont.

Writing a worthy villain is crucial to any successful project. Fans flock to see Iron Man but stay to see him fight Thanos. Most people love themselves some Luke Skywalker, but they love to hate themselves some Darth Vader. And then we have King Joffrey, a character so polarizing that his death was celebrated by millions. This blog post will give you the key ingredients to writing a worthy villain, so you can create your own dastardly devil.

Key Ingredients
The Villain is Capable: There is something gravitational about a villain that can get things done. This allure brings forth the image of a strong character with skills and abilities that they have obtained over the years, even decades. A well-trained assassin, a ruthless yet effective king, etc. If the villain is not capable of at least accomplishing the most basic of their objectives, then the audience will not fear for the hero.
Establishing an Emotional Connection: Establishing and invoking some emotional reaction when the villain is on the scene is crucial to any story. The villain can be hated, love to be hated, loved, but above all, they should be respected for emotionally charging the audience and getting them to pick a side.
Villain as Change Agent: Traditionally, the villain acts as the catalyst for change in the story, either by motivating or provoking the hero into action or by changing the world around them. Humans are naturally averse to change; this makes it easy for the audience to root for the hero when they know the status quo is threatened.
The Villains Perspective: Contrary to popular belief, no one is the villain in their own story. Because life is about perspective, it is easy to view a character from only one dimension. This is easily the biggest mistake writers make when they accidentally create a villain that falls flat. Just like in real life, the villain in your story has their own motivations, moral standards, and goals. Just because they go against the hero, it does not necessarily mean they are not valid. It is important to see the story from the villain’s perspective and ask yourself if their actions make sense from that character’s point of view. When the audience can understand why a villain makes a decision, it allows them to dive further into the story. Additionally, this can create conflict inside the audience, which is good. It means they are attached to the outcome.
 Not all bad: A worthy villain cannot, and I repeat, cannot be evil for evil’s sake. In the last decade or so, audiences have shifted towards a more nuanced approach to what characters they gravitate to, many even celebrating the villain’s perspective because they see the good in their actions. But above all, a worthy villain is complex to the degree that they have positive traits. This can be as simple as treating their henchmen well or promising a better world to those that follow them.
Conclusion: Writing a worthy villain doesn’t have to be difficult, but it does take effort. Try your hand at creating the next epic villain with these five key ingredients.

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About the Author: Negus Lamont
My mind is a chaotic place to dwell. The dark thoughts that clamor for freedom spill out onto the pages of art. Enter the mind of a Bipolar author.
Several people have asked me why I bother to write in the first place. Some say it is a dying art form, while others claim it is simply a waste of time if I want to be rich. Truth be told, I write because that is what I have been called to do.
Mental illness is a topic that still has stigma attached to it, and I wish to aid in the removal of said stigma. My novel, The Unworthy Blood Knight, is a prime example of that. Ultimately, creating art is a form of healing for both the reader and the writer. Hopefully, you join me on this journey and allow our minds to intertwine.