Word Wednesday · Writing

Working with your characters: Villains

Righty-ho guys,

We all know the drill by now, we have a character development topic for this week and it is villains, and not just the super-villains but all kinds of villians! There are many types of villain, you develop them all a little differently just like every character! Here are a few types of villain…

  • The Mad Scientist
  • The Power Hungry Overlord
  • The Person with a dark childhood
  • The Sadistic Type
  • The Anti-Villain
  • The Anti-Hero

Okay, well the last two are going to get a post of their own because they are a little special, but the others I generally work together. When I start developing a villain, I don’t go in with the idea that there has to be a specific type of villain, rather I let my villain develop and tell me themselves.

One of the biggest decisions you make, in terms of writing a villain, is deciding what is motivating all of this horrible behaviour? Do they believe that they are fixing a huge problem in the world? Do they want revenge for something? Do they desire power over everyone- but importantly why? Make it something that would actually drive a person, not something small that wouldn’t make them reconsider their moral stance.

Once you have decided this you can start building in some details, for example; why are they the villain in this story? How do they effect the protagonist that much that they would go on this journey to stop them? What makes them bad? Now, a lot of these details will be filled in, changed, and developed through writing the first draft so don’t worry about having the perfect explanation during the planning stages; as long as you can understand why they are acting the way they are or are portrayed the way they are, you have everything you need to move forward.

Don’t forget, most antagonists don’t see themselves as bad; they think that what they are doing is right. One of the things I really like to do when I am focusing on developing my antagonist, is do a separate plan on the antagonists view of the plot. If you have an outline from the protagonists views, switch it and write it from the antagonists view; I found that this helps me see where potential problems can occur and highlight behaviours of the antagonist/ protagonist that don’t correspond or work with the character you want to develop.

I know that there are millions of villain writing tips and tricks out there, if you have a few seconds spare I would appreciate you adding your favourite to the comments so we can build a bank of tips and tricks!

Thanks for reading guys, I hope you are enjoying this series because I am enjoying writing them!

Helen x

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