November 27th, 2012, 01:45 PM
Most poeple/characters lie somewhere along the scale, and at various time move.
Originally Posted by Slynt
I am not sure that I could, at least without any "flaw" of good in them! Moral dilemmas are more interesting to me.
Originally Posted by Slynt
November 28th, 2012, 11:40 AM
I agree. There's lot of material available for the thinking of real evil persons. Khadaffi, Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Jim Jones, Augusto Pinochet, Papa Doc Duvalier have extensive literature written by and about them that can be researched. The "banality of Evil" if written properly can be even more frightening than a moustache twirling Snidely Whiplash. The danger of course is beginning to sympathize and even embrace the evil such as happened to fictional character Dr. Harleen Quinzel (Harly Quinn) of the Batman series.
Originally Posted by InfinityKgt
January 1st, 2013, 03:11 PM
A unique look for what they wear.
They are able to create damage for the hero, heroes before being defeated.
If they aren't suppose to be pure evil something that shown they won't hurt kids or people of a specefic age, have returned items that are lost, if they are fighting with a foe with a weapon they won't fight a foe unless they also have the same kind of weapon, etc.
January 1st, 2013, 05:12 PM
A mere player
I agree. Evil doesn't think it's doing evil. It's simply carrying out actions which are necessary to reach their goal or survive, and those actions are perceived by their enemies as evil or are looked upon by history as evil. A dictator's suppression of its people is necessary in their view in order to maintain peace or keep their power. Hitler didn't think he was doing evil.
Originally Posted by Zo0tie
You could say that Native American raids on the frontiersmen are much like Khadaffi's terrorist attacks in the 70s. Yet historically speaking, one seems to be considered legitimate and one isn't.
I find if there's a logical reasoning for the character's "evil", and not simply evil for evil's sake, the character takes on real dimension in the reading. If a character is killing every first born because that first born is prophesied to destroy the world, (and prophecies are legit in that world) then perhaps the killing of 200 children to save 2 million people is worth it. So to speak.
January 2nd, 2013, 12:32 AM
I think you can have an "ultimate evil" villain and still make it realistic; after all there are people in the real world who are at least as evil as any character you can imagine, but they certainly weren't born that way. The trick is to make them human. Make them a product of their environment, make them have a believable motive, give them flaws, weaknesses, and maybe even some redeeming qualities. If you show that they have a sense of morals, perhaps that could make their evil deeds seem even more repulsive to the reader. You don't necessarily have to write a "grey" villain to avoid a cliche, two-dimensional character. Like you say, the best villains are the ones who evoke fear and hate in the readers, but the best villains also have a motive beyond evil for the sake of it, and their past allows for at least some explanation of why they are who they are. This goes beyond villains of course; every character in your writing should have depth and humanizing qualities that bring them to life for the reader and make them believable and even relatable.
January 5th, 2013, 05:03 PM
I think the key is to make the villain believable. You have to make them a real person, and not just some ridiculous evil entity. If you've read any Dean Koontz, he makes the most absurd, unbelievable villains that don't resonate. George R. R. Martin, on the other hand, makes the bad guys quite believable and easy to relate to.
January 5th, 2013, 09:32 PM
now i just literally started writing as a hobby like a week ago so im by no means an expert but i think you are assuming that people think a character like sauron is a good character. when people think of the lord of the rings novels and how good it was, is the character of sauron one of those reasons? is sauron even really a character or is he is something like force or symbol?
Originally Posted by Fred Gallney
now look at fantasy series that are praised for their characterization and look at the characters on those novels that can be seen as villains. for example in George RR martin's song of ice and fire series, look at characters like Tywin Lannister, Viserys Targaryen and Roose Bolton.
in my opinion, making a villain that is nothing more than a dark lord of darkness is a bit boring. think of historical figures in our history that many people see as utterly despicable like stalin, pol pot, stalin, hitler, saddam etc and notice how none of them thought of themselves as villains but as men who were working for the greater good of their country/region/civilization. this is what to me makes a good villain, someone who is utterly and arrogantly convinced that what they are doing is justified/called for or that they are acting out of necessity in terms of the role that they are playing (like a mob boss thinking he needs to make an example out of someone by torture for breaking the rules, so that others understand that there are still rules and a sense of civility in their crazy job).
January 6th, 2013, 01:36 PM
Koontz has written some 40 novels or more in multiple categories, so actually his villains vary, from demons to fairly realistic serial killers. He's a bit on the conservative side so some of his villains in say his technothrillers I'd likely snort at, but others in things of his I've read, I haven't. His horror novels have very different goals from Martin's epic fantasy. In horror, demonic and evil forces with considerable power are more likely to be used, putting the protagonist at greater risk than just facing a human villain, with fewer resources, sometimes fighting the very land itself. Martin uses forces for evil, in fact for his main evil in Song -- the White Walkers. Tolkein also was using classical mythology and was primarily concerned with corruption -- of the land, of people. Sauron was a symbol of ultimate corruption, so far gone as to be only a presence, but one that could corrupt everything in the world if it was allowed back in. And yet, Tolkein also gave him a lengthy backstory in Lord of the Rings (and the Similarion) that showed his progression as a sorcerer and the corruption of the men, elves, etc. who went over to the ring.
Originally Posted by CarlAlves
More to the point, Koontz is one of the thirty biggest selling authors and Tolkein is in the top five. So that doesn't make necessarily a key of believability for antagonists in connecting with readers. Symbols work too. I also don't think that Hitler, Stalin, Pol Pot, etc. were unaware that they were villains. I think that they didn't care and felt they had the right to be so. The concept of a human villain who thinks he is not a villain is one type of villain, and quite often involves mental illness or post-traumatic shock. It is also a school of philosophy of writing, that you write villains who are human, who have flaws, who don't see what they are doing as wrong because of their background, etc. And it's certainly a school of philosophy that can be adhered to if that is the villain you like. But it's not necessarily the universally "good" villain school, especially in fantasy, when the author may not be focused on writing about human characters but instead focused on writing about ideas and symbols of those ideas or, more usually, mixing the two, as Koontz, Martin, Tolkein, and others have. Sometimes your antagonist, as we know, isn't a villain at all, but someone doing his or her job or trying to achieve an understandable goal that puts that person in opposition to the protagonist. But villainy involves directed behavior for the purposes of harm, so villains are a type of antagonist and run a very full range, especially when speculative elements are added.
For me, I do not tend to like villains who lecture, unless they do so colorfully. The speeches of a villain about how greed is good or humans like to be told what to do or whatever tend to bore me, especially as they are often rote (not necessarily unbelievable, just rote.) This is why I didn't really like the film Batman Begins until the last part, when Bruce returns to Gotham and becomes Batman. I found watching him training while Liam Neesen's character made endless speeches left over from 1970's martial arts movies to be exceedingly boring. But other people loved it, so there you go.
January 6th, 2013, 03:44 PM
Pro Bono Graphic Designer
Oh my, I thought Batman Begins was the best of the series! LOL
But I digress. I don't think there is a formula for a good villain, and I don't think there ever will be. So when I created my villains, I took what I liked and didn't like, and wrote what made sense to me.
For me, my favorite villains were the ones that were mysterious in some way. Just like a child kept scared of shadows at night, I didn't want to know everything about a villain, because this is what made the villain special. Once all the details are exposed to me, and once the lights are turn on and the child sees that it's only a sweater or a vacuum causing a mysterious shadow, then the spell for me is broken. I am a person who feels that Darth Vader was great until they tried to cover his backstory, and that George Lucas nearly ruined him when he tried to explore the full intensity of Vader's pseudo-mysterious past. Sometimes, things are better, and even more terriyfing, when our own minds are left to fill the blanks. I think I continue this love in my own fictions, as I noticed that I do not show my villains until the very, very, very end of my story arcs (in most instances). Even then, I may never fully explain them.
I think Vader was, at one time, my favorite villain.
Yet, at times a villain can be successfully showcased in his complete fullness, as was the case of Sephiroth from Final Fantasy 7 (which is a video game for the Playstation, for those who don't know). He is the most impressive villain I've encountered in fiction, and I personally feel that this is owing to the build up of his prowess, his strength, and the showcasing of his fall from grace as a world hero into a belligerent, world threat, in my humble opinion. One of the most mesmerizing parts of his story was when I, the player, could not pass a region due to my inability to defeat a creature known as the Midgar Monster. Everytime I tangled with this creature, I was destroyed. Yet, upon finally circumventing this region, the heroes of the story came to find out that Sephiroth had already met the monster on his travels, and had impaled him to a stick. This served to showcase how innate my own strength was compared to Sephiroth, and made me feel all that much closer with the fictional heroes who had to contend with the notion that they were going to have to face Sephiroth some day.
On the other hand, the most FRIGHTENING villain I've ever encountered was Alex DeLarge from Anthony Burgess' "A Clockwork Orange." I think this is because Alex is real, and I've probably met him somewhere, sometime. It gives me shivers thinking about it, and it is thanks to this that I never could finish the novel. I could not maintain aesthetic distance from this novel, and I feel that Burgess' has scared me FAR more than Stephen King ever could.
This is just what has worked for me, what I have loved (or rather, could not handle in the case of Alex), and my thoughts on what made them work. It really is all subjective, right? Who are your favorite villains? Who was the most impressive, who was the most frigthening? Tell us your thoughts.
P.S. Sauron was the most BORING villain I've ever endured, by far. The orcs and Sarumon are more interesting. There... I said it.
January 12th, 2013, 02:50 PM
So in the culture or family they were born in they have different values.
Originally Posted by txshusker
January 23rd, 2013, 02:25 PM
According to Ben Nova's book The Craft of Writing Science Fiction that Sells, a good villian always believes that they're the good guy.
This makes sense if you consider villians in the real world. The Taliban, for example, are patriot fighters. Their philosophy is that foreigners don't belong in the homeland. (The CIA even went as far as to arm the Taliban during the Soviet invasion in the 70s.)
We view them as bad guys, and they us.
I suppose that the best villians are those who have reasonable motives. If a reader can understand the villian's logic, they're more likely to suspend belief.
January 26th, 2013, 02:24 PM
In the Avengers movie Loki thinks that he is a king, a alien invasion happens. He grew up in his brothers shadow.
Originally Posted by kamalayka
January 29th, 2013, 09:00 AM
Man in the High Castle
I tend to prefer my "villains" with rational viewpoints for what they are doing. For instance, let's say the general populace is getting sick of a strict police force (the "villains"), and the populace is fighting back in various ways. The police force is simply doing its job by preventing these crimes that people are committing in the name of striking back against the police; in essence, they're trying to prevent instability and chaos and are even trying to save lives by doing what they do, but the general populous doesn't like it because they have less freedom than they want to have. It's the kind of idea that makes the reader think twice about completely supporting one side or another and makes a fully-rounded, rationalized story.
January 29th, 2013, 10:21 PM
I believe in the presence of evil. Some beings simply are innately evil at the core. You can turn them a thousand different ways, and they will still try and destroy the world. They don't need a reason, it's simply who they are ....
January 30th, 2013, 01:59 PM
I agree. We look at people like Hitler as ultimate villains in real life because they committed such evil atrocities on such a massive scale. But I think if their intentions were good, no matter how warped and delusional, they cannot really be characterized as the "ultimate evil". There literally are millions of people who do evil things for the sake of being evil, there are other people who do evil things for selfish gain, and still others who do evil things for no reason at all other than a lack of morals. So I think it's still possible to craft a believable and inherently evil villain in a novel. Someone mentioned the example of GRRM as a good crafter of characters, so let's look at Roose Bolton. Many of the evil things he does are simply for his own amusement, or to stoke his sense of power, he has no noble goals of political freedom fighting or anything like that even if justifications can be made for his actions. Yet he is still an extremely realistic villain to me, and to many others I think, and also a good example of a purely evil person.
Originally Posted by TheIELighten
This isn't to say that deep rooted evil doesn't need to be explained in a person. There may indeed be people who are born with a greater disposition toward evil, I don't know, but it would be hard to convince me as a reader that "this man is evil because that's just how he is." Explaining their journey toward evil wont necessarily diminish the evil deeds of a villain at all, and can actually make each evil action seem eviler as well as suspend the disbelief of the reader. Like I mentioned above, some capacity for morality can make a person's evil actions all the more despicable by contrast.