Posts Tagged With: villains

Somebody Order A Villain?:Part Two

~ Firstly, I apologize for the absence. I started my senior year, so between course work, college prep, working, trying to find a better job, and non-school-related life…I got a little distracted. ~

As I’ve already made abundantly clear, I’m quite fond of villains. In many cases, they’re more interesting than their hero counterparts(and usually better dressed). They’re unpredictable, appearing in all shapes, sizes, and emotional states. They’re troubled, by anything from guilt to greed to the continued existence of the human race. And everything that makes them fun to hate and a joy to read also makes them terrors to write properly.

 

 

1. Sauron – A good villain is driven.

 

 

Whatever it is that your villain wants, he has to want it with every fiber of his soul. Heroes can occasionally be apathetic about what they’re trying to accomplish since they’re often dragged into quests and adventures against their will, but the bad guys cannot.  If your villain is lackadaisical about getting what he/she wants, then the rest of your story is going to lag, as well.

 

 

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackso...

The Eye of Sauron as portrayed in Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings movie trilogy as Sauron’s form in the Third Age. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In The Lord of the Rings, Sauron stopped at nothing to retrieve the One Ring. He sent all kinds of nasty beasties and recruited unsavory characters to help see that little piece of power returned. A fact that helped keep the action going through three books and as many movies.

 

 

2. A good villain believes in what he’s doing.

 

 

Considering the things that villains do? They better believe in it!  Without believing that his actions will bring him to his goal, a villain won’t be driven(see above) to do much of anything and you won’t have a story.

 

 

Granted, there may be doubts. Every human on the face of the planet has doubts from time to time, and letting your baddie have some from time to time can go a long way toward making her more human. However, unless your tale is a tale of redemption, make sure she pushes through them.

 

 

3. Professor Moriarty – A good villain is the kind of person your protagonist would have as a BFF.

 

 

If he wasn’t, you know, evil. In a lot of great fiction, the protagonist and the antagonist are two sides of the same coin. Good and evil versions of the same person, if you simplify things.

 

 

Take Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty, for example. They’re both brilliant. They both invented professions to suit their talents. They both possess a penchant for great schemes, and neither has ever found anyone to keep up with them until they crossed swords with each other.

English: Sidney Paget's drawing of Holmes and ...

English: Sidney Paget’s drawing of Holmes and Moriarty in Mortal Combat at the Edge of the Reichenbach Falls. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

4.Queen Levana – A good villain is not good.

 

 

 

 

First, allow me to qualify that statement: a good villain is not doing bad things for good reasons. If that’s the case, your character may be more of an anti-hero than an antagonist.

*spoiler alert*  In Cinder by Marissa Meyer, the antagonist, Queen Levana, embodies this concept pretty well. She tries to murder a three-year-old princess in order to steal the throne for herself, tries again when the princess is in her teens, routinely brainwashes her own subjects, and orders certain disabled infants to be murdered at birth. Not a nice woman.

 

 

A villain does what they do for reasons that they consider good, but that likely sound insane/diabolical/repulsive to the average person. Typically, their motivations revolve solely around themselves. Granted, there are exceptions to this, as with almost all aspects of writing.

 

 

5. The Weeping Angels – A good villain is frightening.

 

 

Human or monster, psychopath or sociopath, explosive or calculating, a good villain should be scary in some way, shape, or form. The worse your protagonist’s opponent is and the more your readers hate him/her, the more emotionally invested they become in seeing him/her vanquished.

The Weeping Angels are living statues from Doctor Who. In the series, they move faster than the human eye can blink and if they reach you will either send you back in time to feed off your potential energy or snap your neck, just because…well…they can. Either way, they can be terrifying. As such, when an episode features them, you’re totally invested in the plot and seeing them lose because you’d really like to be able to sleep that night. Not that you will.

And I’m not posting a picture. If you’re a Whovian, you will know why.

 

 

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Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Someone Order A Villain?

Apparently, my readers are obsessed with evil.

Given the choice between book reviews, romance, and villains, the votes always came up in the bad guys’ favor, and I can’t say I blame you. Villains are fascinating. Their motivations, their schemes, their fashion sense(*cough* Megamind *cough* Loki*cough*)…It’s all endlessly interesting to those of us not inclined to try enslaving the human race.

Not only are they interesting, the villains are a vital part of any story.  Sometimes more so than the protagonist. But they’re infinitely easier to ignore when it comes to characterization, backstory, and well…everything outside of describing their lair.

In doing the prep for this post, I put together a list of my favorite villains and the things learned from them. The first on that list?

1. Loki (and also Gollum!)-A good villain has a goal.

And making your hero/heroine’s life miserable doesn’t count (unless it’s revenge or some such).  Neither Thor or The Avengers would have been half as interesting if Loki’s only motivation had been evil for evil’s sake.

Character poster for the film Thor featuring T...

Tom Hiddleston!

In a lot of the books, movies, and graphic novels I’ve come across, the antagonist has indeed had goals. But they were cliched, weak, and pretty much just an excuse to get in the protagonist’s way and provide a convenient obstacle.

Ideally, the villain’s story should be just as deep as the protagonist’s, just on the opposite side of the coin. The same rules apply. Even if it’s not necessarily shown, your baddie should still have the same type of character journey–from inciting incident to coming away a changed person–as your protagonist, including having a serious want. It doesn’t even have to be a valid (to a sane person) goal, as long as the villain believes in it and wants it with all his/her black little soul.

Take Gollum, for example. His devotion to the One Ring consumed him and drove him to do anything to find it again when it was stolen from him. Try to find something equally addictive for your antagonist.  Power, money, fame, revenge, or the last potato chip–it really doesn’t matter as long as they want something.

CG depiction of Gollum created by Weta Digital...

Everyone must have a PRECIOUS!

2. Mr. Gold – A good villain loves something.

While watching ABC’s Once Upon a Time, I’ve found that I like the villains a lot better than I do most of the heroes–though some of that may be more due to the choice of acting talent rather than characterization (Hello, Captain Hook!).

David Blue and Robert Carlyle

In the case of Mr. Gold, almost his entire journey from ordinary man to the Dark One is revealed through flashbacks, and one of the recurring points in his development is love. It tends to get him in trouble a lot, but it’s also what makes him such a strong character. The betrayal of his wife–his love–helped drive him to magic and the darkness that came with it. His later love of Belle is…well…it’s trying to change him, but that’s…well…that could be going better, but I digress.

Everyone–evil incarnate or not–loves something, whether it be human, animal, place, thing, or idea. It’s what makes them human, more relatable, and can help give them goals(see above). Unrequited love, in particular, has made quite a few excellent villains.

It gives the reader the slight hope that perhaps the baddie in question could change, that maybe they still have a spark of humanity left–and it makes it all the more tragic(and fun for the writer) when they don’t.

3. Megamind (And Luke Castellan)- A good villain has a reason for being who they are.

I love Megamind. He’s just so freakishly awesome and bumbling and brilliant and he does what I would probably do were I a supervillain (e.g. fail spectacularly). And he has good reason for being as jaded as he is. Being mocked, misunderstood, and generally hated for being different will do that. Add in the fact that he was raised in a prison and groomed for villainy, and you’ve got a pretty good reason for his turning out the way he did.

Megamind

Megamind!

Judging by my research, you don’t just wake up one day to find that you’ve become a full-fledged villain with rayguns and henchmen. There are always reasons. Revenge, love(as aforementioned), hate, or greed. An old hurt or a new desire.

And in general(excluding Megamind), even with reasons, the change from hero to villain is still gradual. As in the case of Luke Castellan from The Lightning Thief. He may have started and ended a hero, but that middle bit was pretty sketchy. With the mental scars of abandonment, enough time and toil to get bitter, and the perfect opportunity, poor Luke snapped. It can happen to the best of heroes, shockingly enough. And that’s what makes for a good twist.

4. A good villain does not do harm without reason.

I could not think of a villain to fit this one, sadly. I feel like a failure as a geek. But, moving on…You really shouldn’t let your baddies run amok when it comes to dishing out mayhem and destruction. As tempting as it is to let them push the limits and EVIL ALL THE THINGS, it can begin to border on the ridiculous if all your villain does is inflict torment for no apparent reason other than making your hero a martyr.

You guys have any to add? List your favorite villains in the comments!

Categories: Writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 9 Comments

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