V is for Villains

villain
Every story has a villain or an antagonist. They are the counterpart to the hero or protagonist and are responsible for the majority of the conflict that falls upon the protag. Now, lets be honest here, we love our protagonists, but villains can be enormous amounts of fun to write, though it can be difficult not to have too much fun and make them too hammy. It is also important to know your villains as well as you know your protag.

The thing with villains is to make them believable and into three-dimensional characters as much as the heroes of the story. Especially when dealing with human ones. Why are they mean or evil, or whatever adjective you want to use? Surely there must be a reason for it, nobody just wakes up one day with the intent to kill or cause conflict in another person’s life without one.

Even when you do look at speculative fiction villains (witches, demons, ghosts, vampires, aliens etc.) it is too easy to just say they’re evil and have them act like some pantomime hamfest but why are they? What makes them hate the protag so much? Are they really as evil as they first seem to be? What if they didn’t initially hate the protag and something sparked the change? Why and can that relationship be restored?
All interesting questions, and if you manage to structure your villain correctly and know them well enough these are questions you hope your reader will ask, and that you can set about answering.

Plus it is always interesting not to keep your villain evil, to offer them the chance of redemption to see if they take it.

We all have a ‘favourite’ villain, who’s yours?

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