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How to Write Villains

Villains have motives. Villains are the hero of their own story. Villains think they're the protagonist and think the hero is the antagonist. And for some reason, we still hate the villain. We relish in the hero's moment of triumph. We applaud the hero when he (or she) foils the villain's plans.

But what if the story was from the villain's point of view? Would we view the villain as the hero, and vice versa? Truth is, we probably would.


A basic, fleshed-out villain possesses 3 main qualities: a motive, talents, and flaws.

A Motive
Every villain wants something, be it world domination, a castle full of treasures, or a loving family. The villain then uses up the entire book to get what he wants. But making the goal is the easy part. The hard part is writing why he wants that goal. Does he want world domination because he thinks he can make the world a better place? Does he want a castle full of treasures because he can use the gold to purchase medicines for his mother? Does he want a loving family because he was abandoned by his family as a young child? You decide.

Talents
Every villain is good at something. After all, a villain is still a person. Maybe they're smart, or have great hand-eye coordination. Or maybe they have more interesting talents, such as origami, parallel parking, or scat. If a villain is completely and utterly terrible at their job, it's no wonder the hero can defeat him in no time flat. In a story, the villain is usually the antagonist - someone who prevents the protagonist from getting what they want. To be able to do that, they need to play their part well.

Flaws
A villain is a person. And that means he'll have flaws. He'll have to slip up sometime. Perhaps he forgot to lock a certain door. Perhaps he hired a useless henchman by accident. It's up to you, as the author, whether or not the hero takes advantage of his weakness and defeats him in the end.

Or maybe, just maybe, you decide to put in a little twist to the story.

Perhaps the villain does win in the end.

You choose.

Have fun writing your villains,
     Germaine

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