7 tips on how you can write an unforgettable villain
Updated: Oct 13, 2020
Well you guys asked for this and here it is. I did a poll on my Instagram and most of you seemed to want this one so here you go. So, if you too want to vote on my posts and everything then jump over to my instagram. Also before we get started with this post be sure to check out my previous post on creating amazing characters for your story. also check out my free character templates for your MC by subscribing.
Creating a villain is sometimes super stressful. Readers expect villains to be villains, but at the same time they don’t want it. They love villains they can sympathize with. But he still needs to be evil. I know that’s confusing right?! Then again you probably have the same expectations as that so who are we to judge? But today I’m here to help you with just that. But before we do get started go ahead and subscribe to my blog. Subscribers get a series template, a character template (for your MC) and a scene card just for you. Be sure to go ahead and get it now. You will also be the first to be notified whenever I post. And now let’s get started with todays post.
1. Your villain is a human
*Gasps* What? No way right? I mean our dear villain loved pulling the tails of cats and burning down houses and hurting children and animals all the time. That could be it…or not. Your villain is human. Unless it’s a psychological thing they probably don’t just do villainous things. I know that’s shocking isn’t it. But we’ll get into the motives and everything later. This point is just to remind you that just like your protagonist your villain is human (Unless they are not. Like literally your villain might not be a human there are other creatures right?) But most times your villain needs to be a human. Even creatures not human might be similar. So before we get this post get this one down. They need human qualities. in fact everything we talk about in this post includes their human qualities. again even if they are from a different race, they need to have human qualities. You reader is a human (mostly, i guess. i mean maybe not) and giving your villain human qualities is what will help your reader sympathize with them.
2. But they’re still a villain
Yup you heard that right. I know it is a tiny bit confusing but however human they are. They are still the villain of your story. DO NOT, and I mean do not glorify your villain. Let’s say that one more time louder for those in the back okay? Your villain should not be glorified. Of course a villain isn’t a role model. No person in their right mind would take life advice from your antagonist but you still cannot justify it. Should your reader be able to sympathize with your villain? Of course they do! But that doesn’t mean that you make it look like its okay. Even going around pulling the cats tail isn’t justified. Nothing your villain does should be glorified its wrong and please make that clear. I don’t care if the villain is extremely hot but your reader needs to know that what they are doing isn’t okay. Again not just to you, but even to your reader this needs to be super clear.
3. Not all villains need a redemption arc
Yup not every single villain needs one. Again this is super shocking but its true. You need to be able to evaluate whether your villain needs or doesn’t need one. Not everyone who messes up gets a redemption. Sometimes your villain may just die and have their tragic ending. Redemption arcs are good sometimes but just consider that it may not just be for you and for your story.
Why do they do what they do? I mean I don’t think anyone would ever go to all that trouble and ruin someone else’s life. Yes you got that right its because they have a reason. I cant tell you the reason to that its something you need to figure it out but it needs to make sense. Their motives probably come from their backstory. Again that is a post I plan on doing on the future. (Also go ahead and jump over to my Instagram so you can vote on my next post). But backstory is super important. What happens in your characters past determined their future. If they were forced to feel extremely weak during their childhood they probably want nothing more than to be strength.
But again why do they go to all of this trouble? I mean why have such elaborate plans if they do nothing with them? if they have no reason. Having a strong motive increases the stakes in your story. Yes! You heard that right. And their motive can’t just be anything. Your villain needs to have a lot to loose. Your protagonist obviously does. I mean a lot of times they are out there saving the world. The world has to mean something to them other than a lot of people. They may want to make someone proud or save their kingdom. The same way your protagonist needs a reason to save the world, your antagonist needs a reason to destroy it. I don’t think they just got bored and decided to have some fun. That’s just not it.
5. Their greatest fears
Oh my god what now?! these guys have actual fears. I know it shocks me too. But hey like I said before they’re human. Please do not create a villain who is scared of no one. This guy is fearless and well nothing can defat him right? no not right at all. This is so wrong. Having a fear is super vital for your villain, as important as having a motivations. Now I’m not going to be talking about their misbeliefs here but that si something super important. So, do make sure that your villain does have some sort of messed up world view to contribute to their fears. Now back to their fears. Their fears fall hand in hand with their motives. Are they terrified of your MC or something they can do to them. I mean it’s not just hate most times. It could also be a fear. I want you to take your time with this step. Flush out their backstories. Again this is super important but I’m not mentioning this because I think it goes without saying but if you are interested on a post about backstory do let me know.
Now what you can do is grab a piece of paper and jot down some ideas for their backstory. Their backstory is what gave way to their motives, misbeliefs and fears. After all the past does define the future. Again I urge you to take some time with this because backstory is a vital part of creating any good characters. Now If you do already have a fear for them the question you need to ask is “does your backstory give way to this fear?” if the answer to this question is no you might want to consider coming up with a new backstory or a new fear.
6. Why do they hate your MC?
I know, I know. You probably already have a reason for this. your villain was shoved into the shadows and they wanted the attention or they wanted to be the best. That is good but also done a lot. I want you to go ahead and think of something relevant to your story. Something that fits your villains backstory not just anything random which you see done a lot. And this goes for every single step. It needs to be personal to them. This odesnt mean that they have to be childhood rivals with your protagonist. We see a lot of boks where they don’t really know them but still know them and this of course is very normal.
Again take your time with this step. I often find that a lot of villains have good motives and everything but the reason they hate the MC falls flat to me. don’t do this with your story.
7. Not all villains are super dumb
Of course they are not dumb no one ever said that did thy? I mean all villains are extraordinarily smart right? eh not always. I’m sure we have all read that one book where the villain reveals their very evil plan to the protagonist right when they are supposed to be killing them. Why? Why would any person with half a brain do that. I mean I get that they might want to torture your protagonist but uh why would they put of killing them for so long. No, they need to watch the horror on your protagonists face as they realize what their plan really is. And while he spends an hour outlining the fact that every single moment in his or her life up to this moment and their about to kill the protagonist, help arrives. Its like they are trying to postpone killing them. And a lot of times this happens the protagonist is a teenager and this guy is an adult. Really? A fully grown adult finds the need to do this. Haven’t they read enough books by now? I don’t care what world it is I know they have read that one book and they should have learnt from it. except they didn’t. So please if you do decide to make your villain smart, don’t make them dumb the next second. Besides having this super secret plan does take some common sense. But apparently you don’t needs as much common sense as that right. I know, I know this point just seems like a rant. And it kind of is.
Your villains plans need to unravel themselves in a very natural manner. You can make it a little clearer to your reader and protagonist as each part of the journey goes by. This isn’t as hard to do as you may think. I mean a lot of times your protagonist is slowly stepping Into the trap slowly. That is a great way to make it clear. Or if that is not what you want and a grand reveal is what you want, do it. But it could be a moment of realization for your protagonist. Your villain can have fun with that too.
And I also want to say that all books don’t need a reveal. Maybe what your villain is going to do, will be apparent from the start. Well that’s cool. You don’t need a reveal to have an interesting villain and a story.
well that is all I have for you today. I do hope this pot helped you write a great villain for your story. if it did go ahead and like this post and go ahead and subscribe to get all of my writing templates, updates every single time I post and my monthly newsletters. I know that is so awesome isn't it. Go ahead and drop a comment telling me if this helped you and also go ahead and share your best tip on writing a villain to help someone else out and like and share this post if you do know someone who is interested. Thank you so much for reading. And stay tuned for next weeks post about creating a writing schedule and sticking to it.