You know that moment when the hero has almost been defeated, so the villain decides to CONFESS EVERYTHING all at once and reveal all of his or her plans. After seeing this a few times, you begin to notice the pattern. Instead of just defeating the protagonist, the villain spends those precious moments giving away valuable information about his or her plans. But WHY??
I’m pretty sure a joke is made about this in Austin Powers because this happens so often. The antagonist wastes his or her own time that could be spent finishing their plans. I know this is because the author wants to stall or make things more dramatic, so sometimes it’s necessary. However, I think we need to start discovering more interesting ways to create tension.
If you desperately want your antagonist to confess something to your hero, try to make it as realistic as possible. Maybe there’s a reason why your antagonist has to wait to defeat your main character. Maybe there’s a moment that makes it possible for them to have a conversation (they’re both trapped somewhere or they’re actively fighting each other). Be creative and think through how you want your characters to interact. Create tension that doesn’t feel silly.
During these conversations, where the villain makes his or her confession, there’s a huge chance you’ll think of clichéd lines of dialogue that are often used in these situations. “We’re not so different, you and I.” or “We should work together!” are good examples of what I’m talking about. Try to be aware of the dialogue you’re using.
- Is almost always the protagonist or on the same side as the protagonist (either because they support the protagonist or because they will get something out of it)
- Has an ambiguous moral compass
- Usually has a good outcome if they win
- Is sympathetic to the reader
- The opposite of a typical hero while still holding the hero’s position or duties
- Can be the protagonist, but is most often the antagonist (antagonist does not equal villain)
- Is immoral
- Usually has a chaotic outcome if they win
- Is not supposed to be sympathetic to the reader
from Bullies, Bastards and Bitches: How to Write the Bad Guys of Fiction by Jessica Page Morrell
Plants, animals, objects, places, and people all have names. Naming people and things in your story has a practical purpose because it appeals to the reader’s loic and memory. In fiction, we name characters to differentiate them, to suggest their age, social standing, and personality, to make them solid and distinctive, and to signal to readers that the person is worth noting. Generally, the more complicated your character is, the more distinct his or her name should be, keeping in mind that names evoke responses in readers and ignite their imaginations. All fiction writers should collect names in a notebook, starting with the standard method of gathering names by perusing phone books, obituaries, and baby name books.
Take care with creating your characters’ names, especially your villain’s name, and be careful not to choose a name that works against type. Generally, you wouldn’t choose a name for a villain that suggests a softie, nor would you give a good guy a name that has a dark connotation. The best names are suggestive, reflect the genre type, and reflect an era. In J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series, Voldemort’s name is so feared that few people speak it out loud; they instead call him He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. Your villain’s name should reflect menace, coldness, and strength. Use hard consonants and sounds to suggest menace or other frightening characteristics, like Stark, the villain in Stephen King’s The Dark Half. Conversely, good guys will have names that suggest goodness or strength, such as J.R.R. Tolkien’s Bilbo, Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin.
You are also wise to use names that are suggestive; for example, Romeo suggests romance, Holly Golightly suggests a light-hearted nature, and Scarlett O’Hara suggests a flamboyant beauty. In Dean Koontz’s Forever Odd, the villainess is named Datura, which reflects her kinkiness, coldness, and cruelty. However, Koontz cleverly has chosen a name with layers of meaning, something fiction writers are always striving for. Datura is a flowering plant that is also called devil’s trumpet and angel’s trumpet, and there are many myths associated with it in cultures worldwide.
HOW TO PLAY A GREAT VILLAIN
With all good roleplays, there is always that one character that has been deemed the villain. However, they may not try to take over the world or kill off a ton of people there is that one character that happens to antagonize the wellbeing of others and the plot itself. It is a role that is typically well thought out and presented by the admins, but most players are too nervous to try being the villain and they think that they won’t be as convincing as they wish.
This shall be one of various other approaches to achieve playing a believable villain.
001. HOW TO PLAY A REALLY CREEPY FUCKING GUY
So I’ve seen plenty of people making attempts at creeping out character and player alike with their characters, and it always falls flat. They lay on it far too much, or not at all, and it’s a very sad thing. I’m going to write this how-to with the assistance of my character Tomislav. Everyone say hello to Tomo. He very much likes talking about himself.
The conflict between absolute good and absolute evil is the oldest conflict in literary history. Humans have been writing about dual morality for thousands upon thousands of years. Recently, the battle of good vs. evil has migrated from religion into the fictional setting. The plot goes like this: the protagonist teams up with a group of like-minded people to do battle against the Others. The Others are evil. Every single Other person you meet will be evil. They are traitorous, cowardly, self-serving, and hateful. The protagonist and allies will be generous, brave, caring, and selfless. People introduced to the story are either with or against the protagonist. In the end, good triumphs over evil. The angels win; Satan goes back in the pit.
This plot may be time-tested, but it is BORING. It’s time for a change.
I really strongly disagree with that idea that the “Good vs. Evil” trope is boring, and I do not believe that recent or even classic examples of the “Good vs. Evil” trope deal in absolutes one hundred percent of the time. There may be ultimate good guys and bad guys, but there are plenty of layers in between in nearly every story I can think of that deals with this trope.
Nevertheless, this is a great article on conflict, the “Good vs. Evil” trope, and exploring the trope’s nuances. Have at it!
Wattpad brings you a guest post from Bethany Myers, on creating great villains in literature.
You can read her novel “The Busgirl Blues” free on Wattpad:
Sometimes the best matches are the ones you least expect.
What Every Villain Needs
The store of synonyms for villain is so well stocked that it seems, well, villainous to employ that relatively colorless word in favor of many worthy substitutes — especially in humorous contexts. Here’s a roster of appropriate alternatives.
A Study on Serial Killers
Or the detailed guide on the oddly intriguing topic of Serial Killers. This guide is not for the faint-hearted.
The guide above is a very useful primer for those wishing to learn how to accurately depict serial killers.
Just to tack on to what benedicthelps has put together here: below you will find a list of documentaries on various serial killers and a few interesting resources for further reading.
A List of Documentaries about Serial Killers
A Few Extra Resources on Writing Serial Killers
Set in a fractured world of living vampires, fallen angels and psychopathic faeries, this dark fantasy novel explores the depths of love and vengeance, and what happens when the villain gets the girl.
Face it. Nine times out of ten the villain steals the show. Whether it’s the witty one-liners, the charisma, suavity and charm or the tragic back-story that jolts you into feeling sympathetic or even empathising with them, it’s the villains that make a cracking story. After all, what would a story be without conflict? And how would the hero develop without a strong antagonist to push back?
My love of villains and all things… villainous … began as soon as I was introduced to Disney. What has Aurora got that Maleficent can’t beat? Seriously. That woman has class, style, an amazing hat, and turns herself into a dragon. When I discovered that Angelina Jolie will be playing her in her very own movie, aptly named Maleficent, (out 2014), I was beyond excited.
The evil fairy Maleficent is pretty much the epitome of a successful villain: she’s interesting, memorable, and has cheekbones you could cut your sandwiches with. She also has real emotions (it hurts to be the only one not invited to a party… how would you like it?) and without her, Sleeping Beauty would have been a bit of a snooze-fest. [See what I did there?!]
My novel, The Book of Fate, first in a planned quadrilogy, revolves around a very simple premise: what if the villain got the girl? … How many different ways could a classic hero story end if that was the case? The best thing about a premise like that is that you could write it a hundred different ways, and it would come out differently each time. Why on earth The Book of Fate ended up the way it did is anybody’s guess, but I blame my various twisted influences, of whom Alan Rickman was probably the strongest…!