Villains!

Or you know... something really crazy like paper beating rock. Psssh, like that ever happens.

I love villains. Not the ‘Oh, I’m evil for no apparent reason but I’m so evil mwahaha’ type of villains. I love the well-developed ones, the ones that you understand why they are the way they are, the ones you are almost rooting for. And it’s a huge challenge when I’m writing. I add in a villain and suddenly have devoted over half the story to explore why the villain is evil.

I’ve had several stories that have totally evolved from one thing into another all because the villain became the focus. And then I realized that there was no reason to fight it. I love the other side of the story. I’ve seen the hero on his quest to survive and overcome, now I want to write the story of the villain who is just trying to do the same.

It’s showing my nerdiness a bit but my favorite villain of all time is from a Japanese anime series called Slayers Try. Valgaav is the villain of the whole series and is looking to summon a monster to ‘cleanse the world.’ As the series progresses you learn that Valgaav is the last of his race of dragons, he watched his entire species be wiped out in a genocide. In a twist of fate Valgaav is saved from death by the mortal enemy of all dragons, a demon, and in his rescue becomes half demon himself. The two sides of his new body, dragon and demon, constantly war, leaving him in pain and once the demon who saved him is killed he abandons all hope of goodness in the world and begins his suicidal quest.

What makes Valgaav stand out are his two minions. Both of them are some of the last of their race, presecuted, wounded and alone. He takes them in, cares for them and ensures their safety even when his own world is falling apart. You know that there the capability for kindness in him, but that the sheer amount of pain he’s in overwhelms it. (okay, end fangirl moment)

I think the most memorable villains are the ones that you can understand. Villains have to be developed character in order to stand up to a developed hero. It’s like throwing a cardboard cut out up and trying to make it fight against a live actor. It just doesn’t work well.

I adore twisting the perspective into the head of the villain. That isn’t to say I enjoy it there, no, no, no. There is one particular short story that I have not been able to view as finished because I haven’t delved deep enough into that character. I haven’t been able to handle being that deeply wrapped up in that particular character.

Now, I’m not saying that to write from a serial killer’s point of view you have to be a serial killer. But, you have to be able to put yourself in those shoes and stay there. It’s not like going shoe shopping and trying every pair in your size until you find the perfect pair. Sometimes you’ll be stuck in a pair of excuriatingly painful shoes but you have to walk the entire story in those shoes.

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3 Comments »

  1. Laura Said:

    It depends on what you’re writing. There are some genres/storylines that call for supreme, “ultimate evil” kind of villains. Usually epic fantasy. And in those cases, the villain is less a character and more a metaphor. A good example of that is Lord of the Rings.

    Personally I like getting into the heads of the villains. 🙂 To give an example: in one story I wrote, the villain character and his best friend both love the same person. She picks the best friend. So the villain tries to console himself with a brave front, wealth, and meaningless relationships with many women, but is eventually taken over by jealousy and bitterness and decides to murder his former best friend.

    • I love getting in the heads of villains. SOmething about all that wickedness. I really feel that a villain has to be justfied in their evil-ness.

      I agree about the metaphorical villain, those I’m okay with not diving into their history, but I struggle to write that type of bad guy!

      • Laura Said:

        The thing about that kind of bad guy is that they don’t actually have to be in the story that much. For example, Galbatorix in Eragon.


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