How to Write a Good Villain

 If you’re a fiction writer then you have to have an antagonist. It’s as simple as that. Everyone knows how to create a good protagonist: Make him likable, make her tough, give him a weakness, don’t make her invincible. 
The list goes on.

 Everyone spends time on a protagonist, but the antagonist is just as important; maybe even more so. The basic truth is, you HAVE to have some kind of opposing force for your protagonist. Otherwise, you’re watching someone eat ice cream on the street with no problems, which, put bluntly, is a bad story. The antagonist doesn’t necessarily have to be a person, but that’s the type I’ll be focusing on today (Because who wants to read about how to develop an antagonist like a dog or failing crops?). Not everyone will write a villain like I do, but here are some tips to make a few common types of villains.

    Personally, this is my favorite type of villain. It’s the bad guy that’s just a little off in his reasoning but is still likable as well. It’s the villain we want to change in the end and not be completely destroyed by the protagonist. The trick with this type of villain is making sure that the reader doesn’t like the villain instead of the protagonist. This can be hard to do, especially if you have a protagonist like Wolverine that’s rough and tumble against a villain that’s likable. I would only recommend using this kind of villain with a protagonist you know is more likable than the villain.
The key to making the relatable villain work is to make the villain just flawed enough that the reader doesn’t like him/her particularly, but likable enough that the reader can understand them. The absolute best relatable villain that has ever been created is Marvel’s Loki. Loki has an understandable backstory, but he’s cold enough that we don’t like him (until he goes back to good . . . again).
The relatable villain is all about balance. Do a little too much relatability and the reader is rooting for the villain. Do a little too much bad and the reader won’t relate to the villain at all. Of course, there’s always the option of “no one’s right; pick your side,” which could make an interesting story. I go more in-depth about relatable villains in my book ‘Loki: How to Write a Good Villain,’ which I will start posting in chapters on my blog once a week starting next week (no guarantees because life happens).

Pure Evil
    Now I think that everyone knows there’s no such thing as a purely evil person. But in fiction writing, who said that’s impossible? Apparently, no one, because this is one of the most popular villain types out there. The problem with this one, is that no one believes in a pure evil villain, because (duh), they don’t exist. BUT they can be pulled off. Look at Sauron and Darth Sidious. These villains seem to exist to destroy.
 In all truth, they do. The authors created those villains to be pure evil. How do they work then? Why do so many like the Lord of the Rings and Star Wars if the villains are unrealistic? Because the whole WORLD around them is unrealistic. Middle Earth and a galaxy far, far away make us accept these villains. But not just that. You can have a made up world and a pure evil villain but still not pull it off. So again, what is it that makes these villains work? The story isn’t focused on them. All we know about Sauron is that he’s a distant, far away threat to Middle Earth. 
Darth Sidious is hidden behind all of his minions, causing evil from afar. The authors weave the story around the villains so well that we don’t have time to think about motives (why exactly does Sauron want to enslave everyone in Middle Earth, and why does Sidious want to rule the galaxy?). We’re focused on whether Frodo will make it to Mordor, or whether Luke Skywalker will save the princess and blow up the Death Star. So the key to writing pure evil villains: Keep the focus off of them. Don’t give a lot of ‘page time’ to the villain. Otherwise, the reader begins to wonder about him/her and then sees that they are unbelievable. As a plus, keeping the villain shrouded in mystery makes them more terrifying and interesting, because as we all know, when presented with a puzzle, the reader wants answers. Of course, you are also able to keep the relatable villain shrouded to an extent, but it’s much harder to make them both relatable and mysterious.

Equal (Or Wants-to-be-Equal)
    This type of villain can work really well with the relatable type but still works well on their own. The equal villain could also be the name of the next type of villain, which is why we’ll call this villain the ‘wants-to-be-equal’ villain. Again, Marvel’s Loki is probably the best example of this type of villain (and just my opinion, but Loki and the Joker are the greatest villains ever created). Loki has been ignored his entire life because the attention has been on Thor, and he’s finally fed up (relatable part). So he decides that he’s going to do everything in his power to become Thor’s equal by pretty much destroying New York (the flawed aspect of the relatable type)
. Power can be a strong driving force in both fiction and the real world. If a villain was slighted by, ignored by, just doesn’t like the attention the protagonist gets, or any other number of reasons, the villain might just try to either take down the protagonist to become his equal or do enough damage to match all of the protagonist’s good. Obviously, this type of villain works best with superheroes or fantasy, but it’s possible to do in a fictional ‘regular’ world as well. Perhaps a policeman’s partner is tired of the policeman getting all the credit and becomes a criminal. Again, this type works the best with the relatable type, but on its own, you can weave some interesting characters.
Opposite/Dark Side/Equal
    This type of villain is an interesting and effective villain. This villain is based completely on the protagonist. He can either be the protagonist’s opposite (Batman’s calm, calculated, order versus the Joker’s manic, spontaneous, chaos) or an evil version of the protagonist. The opposite is a very interesting story creator.
When not only good and evil, but completely opposite personalities clash, things can get intense and fascinating.To make an opposite, you create a protagonist, and then come up with a wildly different antagonist. Perhaps the protagonist wears all formal clothes and the antagonist wears casual t-shirts and sandals. This could also represent the protagonist’s uptightness and the antagonists laid-backness. This could even lead into a deeper character arc. Maybe the protagonist is
too uptight, and learns from the antagonist how to relax a little. To create a dark side or ‘evil twin’ antagonist, take your protagonist and give him evil motives. If the protagonist is brilliant, make the antagonist brilliant. Both can be formal. Maybe both were in the police force. Perhaps even their personalities are the same! But the protagonist stayed on the straight and narrow. The antagonist could say, be accused of robbing a jewelry store even though he didn’t. He spends a few months in jail, is found innocent later, and let free. But the antagonist is bitter now. He figures that if he’s going to be accused of doing something wrong and serve time for it, he might as well do the crimes (You can’t take that idea because I’m already using it.). While the other villain types work well, this villain type is most likely the most interesting type.

    I hope this helped you!

Bio: Dylan is fourteen and loves writing, for the most part just comedy, specifically comic-fantasy and comic-thriller. As well as nonfiction, when random inspiration hits, or an interesting question sparks an idea.

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