In a previous chapter, I said there were two types of villains:
1. People who do bad things for a legitimate reason
2. Pure evil Satanic spawn who create strife for the sake of strife.
In this how-to, we'll delve deeper into #1: doing bad things for a legitimate reason. What is that reason?
The short answer: emotion.
And getting more specific on what emotion, here's Master Yoda: "Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering."
That right there sums up what a villain needs to be. Even the sociopaths will have fear, hate, and anger driving them. Of course you can tweak that to add other emotions: greed, vanity, and other of the 7 deadly sins.
But most people who do bad things--that stems from fear. Fear of losing their powerful position, fear of getting hurt, fear of losing loved ones. And that makes them angry at anyone standing in their way. They start to hate and lash out and make others suffer, and that's why they themselves suffer.
A wonderful tumblr post describes this as the "anti-villain". I've never heard it put that way before, but it's something to think about.
Anti-villain motivations besides “tragic past”
>They do bad things because they’re scared.
>They’re gullible or misinformed. Example: somebody who has been told the heroes are out to hurt them.
>They are desperate for interaction, validation, kindness, or attention, and the dark side gives them those things.
>They want to change their allegiance, but are pressured by people close to them to stay evil.
>They have an otherwise noble goal that they will do literally anything to achieve. Example: somebody who wants to protect their child, even if it means throwing other children into danger.
(Source: http://the-right-writing.tumblr.com/post/107614500023/anti-villain-motivations-besides-tragic-past also linked to in the EXTERNAL LINK)
These are fantastic concepts to play around with in order to get deep, layered, and memorable villains. These are motivations everyone, good or evil, can relate to. It shows they're human, and if we were in that situation, we might come out like them (I said this in a previous how-to, and it still stands!)
Anakin from Star Wars had a dream of his wife dying. That scared him. He turned to the dark side.
Regina from Once Upon a Time wanted Henry's interaction/validation/kindness/attention, which is why she did horrible things to ensure he stayed with her rather than his biological mother.
Keep in mind I'm not saying your villain HAS to have these types of emotional motivations. Agent Smith from The Matrix was an emotionless computer program, and he still made a chilling, memorable villain. If you're going for a more human, relatable villain, these are concepts you can consider working with. Revenge is another thing villains can strive for, which isn't listed here. So these are just some ideas to get your brain going.
What motivates your story's villain/antagonist? Share in the comments below!
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