How to Write a Villain

It seems like it has been a while since I have done a solid writing tip. I’ve skimmed through the files in my brain and pulled out the folder labeled “Villain.”

Mwahahaha . . .

Everyday I get more and more people looking at my post about How to Write a Bad Boy. I don’t know what’s going on. Maybe there will be a huge influx of bad boy characters coming into novels pretty soon. Anyway, in that blog post, I said I would expand on the Villain character. So here goes.

Who is your favorite Villain?

Here is a list of some of mine. I’m going back to my post on resonance a bit.

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The Lord of Darkness from Legend

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The Joker from Batman

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The Governor from The Walking Dead

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Queen Ravenna from Snow White and the Huntsman

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The Goblin King from the Labyrinth

It’s all about seduction.

The Villain needs to seduce the reader into thinking that their way is understandable and enticing. We need to sympathize with them. Therefore, they need an intriguing backstory.

How to create Backstory for your Villain. Something turned this person or creature. An injustice was done. Every single Villain should have a back story. Most often than not, the writer won’t put it into the novel, but it’s there. You will see their backstory in the dialogue, in the body movements, and in the interactions. That is why backstory is crucial. Write a prologue or a chapter in the Villains point of view and don’t use it. Or write up a character sheet for your Villain. Know their point of no return or turning point and every terrible deed they have ever done. Also, just how evil is your Villain going to be? Know all these things before they begin to interact with your other characters.

The Villain needs a Motivation. It is important to find the Villain’s understandable motivation. Do they want justice or are they going off of a belief system? There are very few people who are mean because they enjoy making others suffer. Nasty behavior is usually rooted in some fear or insecurity. What are these insecurities? The reader needs to sympathize with their backstory in order to understand their motivation. The Villain’s point of no return incident is usually counterpointed with the hero’s experience or theme. Remember, the Villain is the hero to their own story.

Give the Villain a weakness. Give them a single thing that they adore. Much like in my post about writing “Bad Boys” where I talk about a simple affection for orchids, or being an artist, or maybe a lost love. Introduce something small that shows a spark of humanity. Create a hope where the reader might (even if only for a second) think “ah, they might not be so bad… I mean, look how much they love the simple pleasure of eating an ice-cream cone.” Something like that. A completely evil character is a weak character. The best Villains are the ones that people can connect with.

Give them a great death. Not all Villains have to die! But if you do kill off your Villain, make the death match their powers and level of evilness. If your villain is a thief or small crimes, then a simple shot to the head would suffice. If your villain becomes a huge character with monumental powers and influence, then give your readers a satisfying over-the-top ending.

What if you don’t have a singular Villain? Think of To Kill a Mockingbird. It is one of my favorite books. But the villain isn’t a person, really, it’s a mindset of hatred and bigotry that permeated a culture; it was oppression at its worst. Or the book The Help. Or in Terminator Two where Skynet is the ultimate villain, but it is attached to the face of the organically fluid metal shape-shifting cop. Often times when the Villain is a large corporation or a corrupt system, there will be one main bad guy that represents the whole.

There are so many different Villains. Here is a great article of how to write different types of Villains with screenwriting, but it applies to novels as well.

I will say something about writing villains. It touches a different part of my brain. I’ve written some horrid stuff. Cursed, killed, and maimed. It comes from some dark carnal part of me that is suppressed, I guess. I’ve felt very intimate ties with one of my villains for going on three years now. Sometimes he screams at me and shows up at the most inopportune times, eh-hem-gulp… church. But I can’t help it, nor would I want to. Because…

Writing is therapy and writing villains is probably the best therapy out there.

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Thanks for stopping by! Who are some of your favorite villains and why?

-Tara

Featured Books Friday!

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Here we are again for Featured Books Friday! I was at the fabulous Storymakers conference last weekend, so I will try to get some of the attendees to post here. 🙂 I love reading through the book blurbs in the comment section. I encourage you to do the same and support these talented authors. You can also scroll through old posts for even more amazing books and authors.

Below, in the comments, you are welcome to add your name, title, and genre – along with a 500 word scene or blurb. (Please no erotica or extreme violence) I will blast and share away.

Thanks for playing!!

Here’s mine from my novel “Broken Smiles” (Women’s contemporary romance.)

LINK:  BROKEN SMILES     image

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She sang and strummed, and for a moment the smell of disinfectant and the stark walls faded away. When it was close to lunchtime, she stopped for the day, but Laidan promised she would sing again the next morning. When the room and hallway finally cleared, she stood and closed the door. With more reverence, she sang her mother’s favorite song that she had written a few years earlier.

Release these feet from concrete and heat

Run barefoot in fields of golden wheat

Feel the forest floor sink between toes

Discover caves where nobody knows

So kick off the shoes that weigh you down

Find a place where no one’s around

Eileen lay still in her deep sleep, unmoved, unchanged. Laidan set down her guitar and went to the attached bathroom. Her hands gripped the sides of the vanity as she braced herself. It had been so hard when she’d lost her father — she couldn’t go through it again.

Happy reading!

Tara

Do our tastes revert back to being a child? Here’s mine.

 

Recently, I attended a writers workshop where we talked about resonance within the genre that you write.

“Learn the language so you don’t sound like a fraud.”

Because fantasy is bone deep with me, I am going to dwell there in my writing for a while. I feel very comfortable within its realm. That is another reason why I love going to fantasy conferences and such. They are my people. I could chat about otherworldly things, forever.

I think back to everything I loved pre-junior high. Something happens to us in jr. high, where our tastes no longer become our own. We become jaded and want to impress others.

Below are some of my favorite things as a child and how I have incorporated them into my writing. These have become a part of my history and makeup. They are woven into my veins just as memory and DNA make who I am. As an adult, my tastes still run along what I couldn’t get enough of as a child.

When it comes to writing and reading, I love fantasy and magical realism.

My first two books that became published, were women’s contemporary fiction. I had written other books previous, but they will never see the light of day, unless I do major overhauls. Contemporary fiction means it could happen in real life. My books were stories that I needed to get out at the time. I will do more like them eventually, but the next 6 books in my queue all have fantasy elements and are geared toward young adult readers.

FAVORITE THINGS AS A CHILD THAT RESONATE WITH ME TODAY:

MOVIES:

– Labyrinth. Oh David Bowie, the Goblin King! My first crush, swoon. Honestly, this was one of the most influential of my entire childhood. This was the first time I was introduced to the seduction and the sympathy to the dark side. Ah, and then he would sing and I would just melt. I would watch the entire show just for this song. “As the World falls down.”

– Legend. The conversation below was life changing to me. “The dreams of youth are the regrets of maturity. Through dreams I influence mankind.” I think this whole movie had amazing conversations, especially at the end when they defeat the darkness. “What is light without dark? What are you, without me? I am a part of you all. We are brothers, eternal.”

– Princess Bride. “As you wish.” Need I say more.

– Anything with a horse… when turned into a unicorn, even better.

– The Dark Crystal and The NeverEnding Story. Loved them and was truly frightened of the nothing! “What is the nothing?” “It’s the emptiness that’s left… the despair. People who have no hope are easy to control. And whoever has the control, has the power.”

ANIMATION:

– The Last Unicorn. This was my favorite animation of all time… ever. Yes, it’s creepy and weird and fueled many nightmares. But I loved it back then. Here’s a funny article I found about the movie.

The 20 Creepiest Moments from “The Last Unicorn”

– Robinhood. This animated disney trumped all the princess movies for me.

– The Lord of the Rings and Hobbit. We would watch all of the animated films from the ’70’s over and over and over.

I really wanted the Orcs to break into this song in Peter Jackson’s rendition. 🙂

– The Secret of Nimh

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Thunder Cats

BOOKS:

– Bridge to Terabithia. – First book that made me cry. I realized books have a magical power and influence on our emotions.

The Hobbit. My love of the LOTR books came later in high school. Although, I was very familiar with the story because of all animated films.

– The Witches.

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POETRY:

– Where the sidewalk ends.

– The Highwayman. This narrative poem is without question, the number one reason why I fell in love with words. Back in the day, I had it memorized, much in the same way Anne did in Anne of Green Gables.

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“The wind was a torrent of darkness among the gusty trees, The moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas, The road was a ribbon of moonlight over the purple moor, And the highwayman came riding…

… He rose upright in the stirrups. He scarce could reach her hand, But she loosened her hair in the casement. His face burnt like a brand, As the black cascade of perfume came tumbling over his breast; And he kissed its waves in the moonlight, (O, sweet black waves in the moonlight!) Then he tugged at his rein in the moonlight, and galloped away to the west.” The Highwayman – Alfred Noyes

FAIRYTALES:

Rumplestilskin.

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Twelve Dancing Princesses.

– Red Riding Hood.

TOYS:

– Horses.

– Unicorns.

– Brothers action figures.

PAINTINGS:

– I loved everything Pre-Rapheilite and of course fantasy art.

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I just started a Pinterest board of things that influenced me as a child that now resonate into my writing.

What genre do you write in and what are some of the details that resonate with you?

Happy writing-

Tara