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    Whenever ~ Smokey, Mighty, Eerie and Wicked

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Why We Love Bad Guys

I can almost hear the click of Nurse Ratched’s shoes on linoleum every time I think of an insane asylum. Or I find myself wanting to say the phrase “Luke, I am your father” whenever I hear the Star Wars theme song. And I don’t think I will every consider clowns the same after Stephen King had his way with them, in the book It.

stephen king it clown

Villains come in every shape and size and can mold a piece of fiction as much as the protagonist. A strong villain gives the story a rallying point, a common enemy. Here are a few tips in creating the bad guys we all love to hate.

 

  • Layer Them. Spend as much time with the back story and characterization of your bad guy as you do your protagonist. What are their hobbies? Would they kiss their mother goodbye still?
  •  Give them a motivation. Go beyond the who, and find out the why. We have moved beyond the one-dimensional villains from bad cartoons. Readers want to know why the aliens mean to destroy our planet. And pure evil is not a good enough reason. While readers may not need to know their villain was punched in the nose in kindergarten, the author does need to know their motivation as it will layer and effect their actions and decisions.
  •  Give them muscles. Not necessarily in the literal sense, but make your villain someone or something that will push your protagonist to great depths.

 

One book, I recommend in building your characters, is the Writer’s Guild to Character Traits by Linda N. Edelstein, Ph.D. It delves into a variety of personality traits and discusses such topics as what type of person would join a cult, birth order characteristics, and even traits of a Fetishist. Yea, I checked. It’s a word.

So delve into your dark side and add that depth and tension to your novel. I know I’ll be working on it.

Leave a comment

1 Comment

  1. The best villains are the ones you can connect to, because there’s some very tiny thing that totally make sense, even if if they drip evil, and that’s what will make them real.

    Reply

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