Writing unforgettable villains is not easy. When we first started writing, we spent most of our time developing our hero. We did not pay much attention to the villain.
That Was a Big Mistake!
Do you want to write an insanely popular novel? Then this post is for you. You must put time and energy into developing your antagonist.
We’ll show you how.
An unforgettable villain is an absolute necessity for an engaging story. The stronger your villain the more powerful your story
In order for your heroine to be strong, honorable and passionate, you must create a villain who is just as strong, evil and passionate.
We all know, every great story requires conflict. Villains are a fantastic catalyst for conflict.
The more your reader despises the villain the more they will love your heroine. If your villain is evil enough your reader will cheer when your protagonist succeeds stopping him or her.
What we are going to show you will change the way you create your villains.
You may want to cast you antagonist as a storm, government or corporation. The most effective way to do that is to embody the evil opposition into a character, or group of characters.
It is easier and more effective to make an unforgettable villain from a tangible character than an abstract idea.
Unforgettable villains can be hard to describe. So, We created our own list of words and phrases to describe a villain. You can get this exclusive list of 700 ways to describe a villain. It’s Free
First Study Unforgettable Villains
The best way to start is to see how other authors crafted famous villains.
Consider these examples:
- Satan from Paradise Lost by John Milton
- Count Dracula from Dracula by Brian Stoker
- Professor Moriarty from Sherlock Holms by Arthur Doyle
- Valdemort from the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowlings
Let’s think of things you might look for:
- Character traits you could use for your villain?
- Analyze how the writer describes the villain both physically and emotionally.
- Next, what role do they play? How do they interact with the hero?
- Consider the backstory the author presents. What turned the villain to evil?
- What motivates the antagonist?
- Another aspect, how does the villain react to setbacks and challenges? Do they win?
In the Best stories the villain keeps the hero/ine constantly in peril. That is what keeps readers turning pages.
We created works sheets to help you.
It’s simple just fill in the blanks and your unforgettable villains will come to life.
First, let’s look at different kinds of villains. The villain in your novel, may be the environment, your protagonist’s conscience, or fate. We will cover those in another post. Stay tuned.
In the mean time, if you are curious check out: Four types of Epic Antagonists
Even the most diabolical villain can usually be placed in one of three categories. Bear with us, because we are going to show you how to create your own unforgettable villain.
This is just the beginning.
Lets look at the three types of unforgettable villains: Power broker, Schemer, and 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. This villain uses their power to get what they want.
The power broker is usually oblivious of those around him. In addition, he feels no regret when he hurts others. For this villain power is the core motivation. Either they have it and abuse it, or they are in pursuit of it.
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 a power broker.
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.
The constable fidgeted, “Lady Wirthland, it distresses me to call on you this way, “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. The colonel 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.
Can you see yourself writing this type of villain?
700 ways to describe villains.
The list is divided into categories: Power Broker, Manipulator and Schemer as well as general villains.
The Schemer Villain
Check this unforgettable villain out. They are often astonishingly good looking. What’s more, this villain can easily 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. In addition, they are often patient in their evil, waiting for the right moment or circumstance.
Schemers are essentially con-men.
Furthermore, 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.
In comparison with the other two types of villain, this can be the most dangerous and most intriguing, especially if you don’t unveil his scheming personality too early in your story.
Most importantly, think carefully about when to reveal your schemer’s true motivation, because it will be a plot point which changes your readers expectation.
When revealed this villain may shock both your hero and your audience.
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 listened to her inner voice.
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.
They are often self-centered and greedy. This villain lacks power and the ability to read people like the other two villains.
Manipulators use their personality to get what they want. In addition, they are conniving and regularly use other people without apology. Most of all they are charming when they need to be.
The manipulator often intimidates others with temper and tantrums. Of course their intimidation may be indirect also. Their diabolical ways can make them unforgettable.
One interesting aspect of the manipulator is, when he does not succeed in getting what he wants, he always finds someone else to blame for his failures. He does not hesitate to make others feel guilty, nor does he care about the pain he inflicts on other people.
Manipulators are strongly focused on their own wants. They get nasty if someone gets in their way.
Here are some examples to demonstrate Manipulator Villains
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: Bennie stood anxiously waiting for the explosion. It was his sister’s party and Bennie 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. Bennie 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, and Abigail Williams from Author Miller’s “Crucible”.
Both are intriguing antagonists.
So do you think you can write a villain like this?
I have to admit; I think the schemer is the most dangerous kind of villain, also the hardest to write. The other two are more obvious.
To Help You Write Unforgettable Villains Get Your List of 700 Ways to Describe a Villain.
You can download it for free.
Which kind of villain do you think is most dangerous? Which do you believe is the easiest to write?
Try our Worksheets. Tell us what your think. Leave us a comment. We would love to chat.
John & Patty @writingagreatbook.com 2022
If you enjoyed these Creative Writing tips, share it with your friends or writers group. Also, we would appreciate you telling your Twitter, and Facebook friends about this site.