How to write VILLAINS (pt. 3) - Guest lecturer: Mo!

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Here's the lovely Mo once again with a breakdown of some of the different types of villains. I'd previously put villains into two categories (1. people who do bad things for a legitimate reason, 2. Pure evil Satanic spawn who create strife for the sake of strife.), and here, Mo has further divided them. I can't say if this an exhaustive list (probably not) but if you find yourself writing the same villain over and over again, this might spark some new avenues to explore:



I've been thinking a lot about villains lately, both in other people's writing and my own.

Where would our stories be without the bad guys?

Our heroes need them to get in the way and cause conflict, and that drives the story forward. Besides, who doesn't love a good villain?
 
For whatever reason, we're drawn to those nasty, cruel, self-serving hypocrites. We want to punch them in the face, but we still love them (except Dolores Umbridge. God, what a bitch).

Some of them, we just can't hate because they're badass or their tragic backstory makes us want to kiss their boo-boos and cuddle them until they aren't evil anymore.

Personally, I prefer bad guys that are just bad, but there's nothing wrong with good gone bad, or raised/trained to be bad. Everyone's got their own favorites.

Good gone bad
Example: Walter White from Breaking Bad, Maleficent from Maleficent

Generally, these villains start off as the protagonists, also known as the anti-hero. They're good people whose hand has been forced in a situation that they never wanted to be involved with in the first place, but then they end up enjoying that taste of crime.

Got fired and need money for rent? Can't afford grandma's hospital bills? Need to protect your little brother from that tough crowd on the street corner?

These tend to make for more interesting villains, because they don't follow the "rules" of crime. They're willing to do anything to protect what they love. Anything. That makes them more dangerous, but we can't hate them because they're fighting for something. Perhaps it's not the best way to go about it, but they don't always have another option, especially after the man you loved chopped off your wings.

Power hungry
Example: Lord Voldemort from the Harry Potter series, Jafar from Aladdin

These are the bad guys that we really love to hate.

All they want is to feed their own selfish needs without mercy or remorse. They just want to rule from the top of a mountain of corpses if that's what it will take to move their personal agenda forward, even if they have to break into someone's house and kill (well, try to kill) a baby.

This helps strengthen our desire to see the good guy kick his ass, and watch this guy fall into a hole and die. It keeps us reading/watching, because we see their success and want to see it ripped away from them by the hero (does that make us as bad as another villain?).

Bad/good struggle
Example: Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender, Ralph from Wreck-It Ralph

How can you hate these poor babies?
We just want to seem them find their way into the light and use their badassery for good instead of evil. Unfortunately, they tend to disappoint us a lot by reverting to their old ways. One minute you'll think, "He's not a villain anymore!" but then he's back to throwing fireballs at the Avatar.
It keeps us reading/watching though, because we want to see what their ultimate decision is in which direction they're going to take. They give us hope, believing that maybe there's some good in everyone, even the bad eggs.

For the greater good
Example: Syndrome from The Incredibles, Magneto from X-Men

These villains tend to be admired for their intelligence and their desire to create a better world (in their eyes, at least). They're clearly not just purely evil or conceited, but that doesn't make them good, and we rarely agree with their actions. They've got the logic, but not the correct morals. They're the heroes in their own heads.

They go to drastic measures, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it wasn't a good idea. Most of their sacrifices claim to be "for the greater good." Unfortunately, they make themselves look just as bad as the real oppressors, and it can become their downfall. Guess he shouldn't have worn a cape.

Stoic evil
Example: Bill from Kill BIll, Bane from The Dark Knight Rises

These are probably some of the scariest (not horror movie scary, just as villains) of them all.

Their actions are drastic and impossible to ignore. They're different than a lot of villains because they aren't seeking any kind of power; they already have it. The thing that makes them more dangerous is their composure. It's terrifying and they'll make trouble for everyone if one person gets in their way. No matter what happens, they're calm, cool and collected, and won't blink twice before they fuck up your day, and then go back to business. You don't think it's terrifyingly awesome for someone to storm into the stock market, beat the crap out of some people, shoot it up, steal all the moneys, then politely say thank you when you take back your motorcycle helmet?

Evil for evil's sake
Example: Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, Smaug from The Hobbit

Some of the most classic bad guys, these guys just love being bad. It's disturbing and beautiful at the same time, which is why we just can't hate them.

Why do they do the things they do? Because they can (we all wish we could do that at some point in our lives). They don't want fame or wealth or power, they just want to play, even if they lose. Some men just want to watch the world burn.

I'm sure there are more.
Who are your favorite villains/what kind of villains are they?

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