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December 30th, 2007, 06:59 PM #1
What makes a good villain for writing?
Some of you may think I'm contridicting myself with the title of this thread. "What makes a good villain?" Now, I don't mean what makes a villain "good", as that is not the purpose a villain. I mean is what makes a good villain "evil" and acceptable in a story?
My opinion is a villain that is pretty much pure evil, such as Lord Voldemort, Morgoth, Sauron, The Dark One (wheel of time), Torak (Belgariad), Darth Vader, Palpatine (Darth Sidious) and the likes of those.
Why? Because they strike fear into your heart at their menacing and evil appearance, and because they don't have any remorse or pity. They are the embodiment of evil, the heart of the dark.
That's the sort of villain I aim to create in my epic fantasy series (more info in the "Progress" thread, coming soon)
What about the rest of you, what sort of villains do you include in your writing?
December 30th, 2007, 07:18 PM #2
I think the most interesting villains are the ones with a human side. The antihero villain. Any of the villains in Die Hard come to mind -- we just finished watching this. (It's a Christmas movie, after all. ) The Mongolian-looking mercenary sneaking a candy bar while waiting to cap the SWAT team, or the mercenary who flips out when his brother is killed and keeps getting more and more P.O.'d at Bruce Willis screwing up their plan, or even Alan Rickman himself in all his beautiful, flawed, glory. Weakness in some form -- some unforeseen form -- makes them seem all the more possible, and that, IMO, makes a really scary villain.
The villain in my book isn't particularly evil; he's a self-serving prick who finds himself in a position where killing off the protagonists is in his best interest.
In my second book, there is a villain who is truly, Caligula-in-Camelot, kill-you-for-the-laugh, psycho evil. He was fun to write. He throws the aforementioned villain (who survives the first book and appears in the entire series) into sharp relief.
December 30th, 2007, 08:32 PM #3
I like villains that are not evil for evil. The villain in the project I'm working on is a mostly decent guy trying to save humanity at all cost.
December 30th, 2007, 09:15 PM #4
Yes. I must say you two are part of the majority that prefer "misguided" characters who aren't pure evil. I can understand where you're coming from as well.
But for me, in an epic fantasy series, it always has awed me where there is the "Umtimate Good Side" verses the "Ultimate evil side". And as a result, in my fantasy series, that is what i hope to catch in my outstretched hand - (figure of speech )
December 30th, 2007, 09:22 PM #5
December 30th, 2007, 09:28 PM #6
Good luck with your "ultimate battle". That's a real original idea that's never been tried before.
December 30th, 2007, 09:36 PM #7
But...Voldy, Sauron, ect were out to gain domaince accross the world - to be the most powerful - even godly. But they are pitiless towards others.
Of course, there'll be other bad guys with the hope of one day being "good".
December 31st, 2007, 02:33 AM #8
There are many different types of villian. The question is what are the goals of your villian? Or have they already achieved them?
I like a villian that's intelligent and ruthless in their determination. Being clever enough to manipulate others into seeing things their way is great. Using the protagonists to further their own goals is good too.
But really, what makes for a good hero makes for a good villian, it's just in the goals and how they go about achieving them.
December 31st, 2007, 06:13 AM #9
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Give your evil character a motivation for his cruelty, and by that I mean bringing out some type of identifiable human quality or weakness. Evil for pure evil's sake is rather groundless and two-dimensional. He/she might be hell on earth, but we can understand or relate to a cruel person who might adore pigeons and go out of their way to feed or rescue them.
December 31st, 2007, 09:47 AM #10
December 31st, 2007, 06:13 PM #11
I think that a villain that strikes fear into your heart at the very sight of them is the best sort of villain you could wish for. Their motivation (in most cases) is for power and the rise of the Dark Order. They might even want to play the Creator and try and create objects from nothing, which is what Melkor/Morgoth did in Tolkien's Silmarillion.
Or the Dark One from the Wheel of Time.
I absolutely adore books with those kind of villains.
I'll tell you a little secret: For my main villain in my epic fantasy series, he was once human...
January 1st, 2008, 10:51 AM #12
It's your book, I just wont like it.
January 1st, 2008, 01:01 PM #13
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I go for villains that are very much like normal people, but am flawed and/or twisted. The sort of character whom there is only a very small veneer of difference between them and ourselves. The most scary bit about them is just how close they are to "normal" people.
January 1st, 2008, 03:36 PM #14
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Also, you can take another page from the movie and have the villain present your hero with a moral dilemma. When Clarice Starling first asks Hannibal for help, he says he'll tell her everything he knows if she sets him free: capture one killer by freeing another. From that point on, you know the everything Hannibal says will in some way add him in gaining his freedom, you just don't know how. Choosing between good and evil is easy. Having your hero decide between two evils, that's interesting.
January 1st, 2008, 05:12 PM #15
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Depth and ambiguity work best for me, a villain who is so simply for the sake of it, just strikes me as pointless. I like the grey characters who can go either way, or one whose actions seem justified yet can be construed in several ways depending on perspective - Jon Shannow is a good example of what I mean. Ultimately though - why have a villain? Many of the best f&sf series to my mind don't define things so simplistically - Erikson, Peter Hamilton, Bakker, Stover all avoid the need to have something so cookie cutter clear and that's when it works best for me.