How to Write a Good Villain

How to Write a Good Villain

With a lot of the books I read the main issue I have with them is always the way that the villains are written. The villain, or the antagonist, is such an important part of a story, so here is a list of my top five things to remember when writing an antagonist.

  1. Plan their back-story
    Just like any other character, villains need to have a story behind them. You may choose to bring this back-story into your book, or you may not, but giving the character a complete back-story helps you as a writer understand how to write that character in more depth.

  2. Give them a personality or quirks
    A lot of writers follow quite similar tropes when writing their antagonists.  Now, sadly it’s very difficult to write a completely original character. However, when you write you have complete freedom to let your imagination go wild, so create a character with personality. To make them as original as possible, try giving them a quirk (e.g. a specific walk style).

  3. Don’t make them stupid when it’s convenient
    Throughout the whole of the story the villain will be described as intelligent and cunning but when the writer needs the hero to win, suddenly the villain becomes stupid and makes mistakes they wouldn’t have earlier in the story. If you’re struggling to find a way to have your hero win, try planning the chapter again and see how you can get a different outcome. Never sacrifice the integrity of a character for an easy way out. 

  4. Try to understand them as a character
    It may be difficult to understand a character who you created to be a villain but even attempting to place yourself in that character’s shoes will massively improve your writing. Trying to understand the way the character will think in a certain situation will help the development of the book.

  5. No one is evil just to be evil
    Characters need a drive, something to work for, and for villains it’s no different. Their only drive can’t be to just be evil for the sake of being evil because then they aren’t a fully developed character. This lowers your standard of writing.

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