In order for the hero/heroine to be strong, honorable and passionate, the writer must create a villain who is just as strong, evil and passionate. The more we despise the villain the more we tend to like the hero/ine, and the more the reader wants to see our protagonist succeed.
The best villains are ruthless, terrifying, conflicted, and compelling.
The villain in your novel, may be the environment, protagonist’s conscience, or fate but that’s for another post.
Even the most diabolical villain can usually be placed in one of three categories.
Lets look at the three types of villains: Power broker, Schemer, or Manipulator.
The Power Broker Villain
This type of villain possesses a dynamic personality, plus at least one source of power. The power might be money, fame, authority, position or possession of a Weapon.
They dominate and control others. They use their power to get what they want. The power broker is usually oblivious of those around him.
If the villain, in your story, is an oppressive government or corporation, create a character, in authority in that organization to demonstrate the worst characteristics of the organization.
NEWS FLASH: the power broker is essentially a bully.
Let us show you some examples of this type of villain.
Example: Lady Wirthland knew the power her heritage gave her. She entered the parlor with the carriage and dignity of an iceberg. Her thin, sharp features never showing the slightest emotion.
“Lady Wirthland, it distresses me to call on you this way,” the Constable fidgeted, but I must know the whereabouts of your son, George.”
Lady Wirthland looked down her nose at the little man.
“What reason do you need to know the doings of Lord George?” she coldly spoke, not offering him a seat.
The Constable flinched, then his back stiffened, and his eyes narrowed.
Example: The colonel’s head thrust forward like a weapon. He knew he was right.
He was furious that anyone would challenge his authority. He would do battle with any man or woman who stood in his way.
Example: In the book “Encyclopedia Brown” by Donald J. Sobol, Bugs Meany is a ten year old Power Broker.
Example: In Harry Potter, Deloris Umbridge uses her power as temporary headmaster of Hogwarts to control others and inflict pain.
The Schemer Villain
This villain is often good looking. They calculate how people will react with a great deal of accuracy. They are good chess players, consistently predicting the next move of those around them. They are often patient in their evil, waiting for the right moment or circumstance.
Schemers are con-men.
They design traps and obstacles for the protagonist. The Schemer may be presented early in the story, as a good person. Then, as the story progresses, you can reveal their true motives.
Something else to keep in mind: Your main character may not recognize this villain in the beginning.
This can be the most dangerous and most interesting type of villain, especially if you don’t unveil his scheming personality too early in your story.
Example: Jeff was tall, classically handsome, an impeccable dresser. People clustered around him as if for actual warmth. When Patricia met Jeff she recognized a high seasoning of deviltry. Her instincts screamed, “Don’t trust him.” Later, Patricia was glad she trusted her intuition.
Example: Delilah had the lazy grace of a cat. Her sensuous swaying hips made married men consider infidelity. A mystic softness filled her eyes. Delilah was good at getting what she wanted and there was no doubt she wanted Mark along with all his money.She would beguile him with her feminine charms. She knew how to catch her prey.
Example: Lago from Shakespeare’s “Othello” is a deliciously evil schemer who exploits the weaknesses of others.
The Manipulator Villain
They are often self-centered and greedy. This villain lacks power and the ability to read people. They use their personality to get what they want. They are conniving and regularly use other people without apology. They are charming when they need to be.
The manipulator intimidates others with temper and tantrums.
When he does not succeed in getting what he wants, he always finds someone else to blame for his failures. This villain does not hesitate to make others feel guilty, nor does he care about the pain he causes other people.
Manipulators are strongly focused on their own wants. They get nasty if someone gets in their way.
Example: Beth hissed through gritted teeth. “How can he do this to me?” Her fury exploding as she flung the door against the wall.
Candice cowered. “You said you didn’t want him.”
“I don’t! But I don’t want Mary to have him.”
Example: Lennie stood anxiously waiting for the explosion. It was his sister’s party and Lennie was determined to spoil it. He hated his sister Jane, and the natural ease she had when socializing. The firecrackers had a long fuse. He hid behind the curtain to enjoy the explosion.
Lennie took pride in his ability to disrupt his sister’s happiness and he felt he had concocted the perfect scheme.
Example: Amy Dunne in Gillian Flynn’s, “Gone Girl” is beautiful, clever, and completely twisted.
Or Abigail Williams from Author Miller’s “Crucible”. Both are intriguing antagonists.
I have to admit; I think the schemer is most dangerous, but the hardest to write. The other two are more obvious.
Most writers spend time creating the hero or heroine. A sensational villain can add energy to your story. See: Formula for Creating a Character to begin creating a new character.
Or see: 5 Tips for Creating a Sensational Protagonist.
We have put together a list of 251 Words to Describe Villains.
Villains are not the only type of antagonist. For more details see: The Four Main Types of Epic Antagonists.
Which kind of villain do you think is the most dangerous?
Which do you believe is the easiest to write?
Now is your chance to create a your own sensational villain. See our Challenge Exercise
Download our FREE Worksheet to create a Sensational Villain
John & Patty @writingagreatbook.com 2018
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The Challenge Exercise
What is a challenge exercise?
The exercise is a chance to practice what you have learned.
How the Writing Exercise works.
Write a paragraph describing your villain, in 200 words or less.
Go to the SUBMIT tab. Write or paste your paragraph before the end of the month.
We will pick 5 submissions that we feel are the best example of the challenge and post them by the 5th of next month.
Come back next month to VOTE on the challenge. See how other writers created a villain using the ideas presented in this post.