It is said that in order to create really great characters that your readers care about you must absorb yourself into their psyche; you must take a part of your own personality and place it into ‘them.’ I’m sure many of you have done that – think back – go on…ahhhh, so you remember how that damsel in distress was a part of you when you were going through a tough time, or how the great warrior in your latest fantasy novel resembled your thoughts and feelings on a matter. This is all great and wonderful for the good guys in a story, but what about the bad guys?
The same holds true for the villains – yes, the author’s darker side. Sure, everyone wants to see the hero triumph, but in order for that to happen you have to have a really good bad guy, someone that will challenge your hero, someone who will throw out all the obstacles that he can to make the hero really struggle. But to love the hero one must also love the villain.
It’ll take an exceptional villain, one with much evil, dastardly doings and underhandedness to capture your reader’s hearts. He or she will have to pull out all the stops and really be nasty to the hero, doing all they can to destroy him and thwart the whole saving the world thing. But how do you do that?
Unfortunately, my friend, you’re going to have to get evil. Yes, that’s what I said. You need to think mean and nasty, and allow the dark corners of your demented mind (and yes, I know you have them) to trickle out. You have to actually draw out from your being all the demented, twisted ideals from the very fabric of your soul and entwine these ideals throughout the story. The villain will challenge the hero from the very beginning and the storyline must have a balanced roller-coaster ride of really bad stuff happening, then a lull, then more bad stuff happening. All of which the villain is instigating.
If you’re having trouble coming up with great ideas for the bad guy to do to the good guy think of opposites. Example: In a store line someone may allow another person to cut in line. What’s the opposite? What mean thing could be done? I’ve found a lot of negative, dastardly stuff in cartoon movies, anime, or even by watching some of the best villains in current HBO shows.
There are actually a lot of great ideas out there, you just have to look. Once you find them you must embrace the dark side, allow your villain to be the most evil, scheming, conniving villain he/she can be, and make your readers love to hate him/her. Give them a twisted since of humor. Make them sarcastic. Make them a complete asshole. The choice is up to you.
Go, now, and create. Enjoy the dastardly events that will make your hero miserable and the reader cheer, yet cry, when your villain is defeated.