Yesterday I decided to make my bad guy in my manuscript more memorable by breathing life into him! I thought about this character and realized he needed to have a unique personality and background, just as my hero and heroine does. Readers don’t want a cookie-cutter character for the villain. Villains need to have dimension.
Of course, it depends on your story but the villain doesn’t have to be an evil person. As the antagonist in the story, his or her role is to oppose the protagonist. It doesn’t matter whether your antagonist is an evil villain or simply an opponent of your protagonist; you need to spend time developing this character. While writing my antagonist, I thought more about him so he will feel real to the reader.
Here are a few tips on how to create interesting and well-rounded villains:
Make them real
Try to understand why your antagonists feel it’s okay to do what they are doing. What is their moral code? How do they view right and wrong? What is in in their backgrounds or personalities that makes it easy for them to commit a crime? In my inspirational romance, NO GREATER LOSS, the bad guy felt it was okay for him to set a fire to a doctor’s house. He blamed her for his fiancée’s suicide. But my bad guy had a few redeeming qualities. I wanted him to evoke complicated emotions.
Obviously, not all villains are mass murderers. Make your villains interesting by giving them characteristics, quirks, and distinct personalities.
Goals and Motivations
Villains need to have well defined goals and motivations. What do they hope to gain? What’s driving them? As you decide the goals, remember that you need to create a villain who fits your particular story. Usually, an opposing relationship should exist between the protagonist and antagonist. In NO GREATER LOSS, the villain didn’t want the doctor to die but wanted her to suffer and feel loss when she no longer has what she loves the most.
Make them smart
Smart villains make for great stories. Making both the antagonist and protagonist intelligent helps to give the story tension. If the villain is stupid, then the hero or heroine can easily defeat him and win.
Make the Villains Foils
Create your villain as a foil for your protagonist. You shouldn’t randomly pick a villain, but should be created to challenge your heroine and hero. What strengths will your antagonist bring out in your protagonist? When these two go at it, what weaknesses will surface?
Good luck on creating villains who are interesting, intelligent and motivated toward their goals. Hopefully, they will push your protagonists through their characters arcs!
Okay, I need to get back to writing my villain.