Sympathy for a Good Villain

Welcome to Twitter Treasure Thursday! This week, I chose to focus on your favorite character in a story: the villain.

villain21Dun, dun, dun…

Okay, maybe the villain isn’t your favorite character, but they should be high on the list. And, in my opinion, they should rival your favorite character; or at least help them stand out. Personally, I appreciate villains who try to convince you to understand them/sympathize with them (ex: The Darkling from Shadow & Bone, Sebastian from The Mortal Instruments). Or they should make you hate them so much, you love them (ex: Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter, Hilly Holbrook from The Help). To me, villains should captivate readers just as much as heroes do.

So, with all of that said, here is today’s gem, courtesy of Drew Chial. He wrote a fantastic (and funny) article about creating solid villains, while avoiding cliches and keeping your audience engaged.

Sympathy for a Good Villain

Every time the villain kills a henchman for no good reason, a light goes off in your reader’s brain. Every time their monologue reveals the details of their master plan, the reader questions your reasoning. Every time they choose the sinister option over the one that’s results driven, the reader wakes from your vision.

It’s good to have a clear antagonist, but you don’t want them to be transparent. Sometimes their desires are simply incompatible with the hero’s. Sometimes the hero and the villain share a common destination, only to differ on how to get there. Sometimes they start with the same beliefs only to have them tested by their environments.

Present your case against the antagonist, and let your audience come to their own conclusions. The subtler the evidence, the smarter they’ll feel for putting the pieces together. Too many reminders of who they’re rooting against will pull them out of the experience.

To read the entire article, click here!

And for more useful advice, follow Drew Chial on Twitter!

Photo credits: 

http://blog.d20pro.com/creating-great-adventures-part-1-character-motivation-hate/

http://wifflegif.com/tags/61683-coin-gifs

One thought on “Sympathy for a Good Villain

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