Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Making of a Villain

by Lena Hart

Some say no one’s born “bad” – they’re made. Maybe even pushed. But I’ve seen enough reality crime shows to believe that there’s a select group who are just downright rotten to the core.

And I could care less if they happen to stumble upon a dark pit and roast for all eternity.

But the evil-doers, who are shoved into a life of… evil-doing, tend to intrigue me. I love to hate them, and yet I hate to see them go. That’s because they make me feel something for them. Not only do they instill paralyzing fear, but they can sometimes pull at people’s empathy because they have that something or someone that they care about – and we realize that they too are capable of feelings.

We may not always agree with their actions, but we often understand what makes them who they are. Iconic villains such as Freddy Krueger, Hannibal Lecter, and even the Vampire Lestat, who have built a fan-base all to themselves, are some examples of “likable” villains. That’ because they all possess a strong character profile, which includes:

Purpose: What’s their motivation? Give your villain a reason for why they kill, maim, and/or torture. For Krueger it was killing the children of his persecutors as revenge for burning him and killing him and ultimately taking him away from his daughter.

Power: What’s their strength? Your villain should be powerful in the sense that they are almost undefeatable. They can’t be easy to beat else any secondary character can defeat them and we wouldn’t need the hero(ine) to defeat them. Krueger’s power is his ability to kill people in their dreams. Can’t get any powerful then that!

Identity: What’s their trademark? Almost every villain has a weapon of choice or something about them that make people’s skin crawl. And that identifiable mark or object is symbiotic to who that villain is and part of what makes them unique. Imagine brown fedora, a red and green striped sweater, and a clawed glove … it’s hard not to think of whose disfigured face that conjures up.

Flaw: What’s their weakness? No one can be too strong and powerful, especially not your villain. So they need to have a defect, something that the hero(ine) can use to ultimately save the day. Krueger’s Achilles’ heel: he is “mortal” in the real-world. Once he leaves the dream-world, he is rendered powerless.

These key elements will help add more to your villain’s core other than pure evil. And it will make for a great, more satisfying love-hate relationship.

Lena Hart is currently working on several literary projects, while obtaining her MA in English Language & Literacy. Her debut novella, BECAUSE YOU LOVE ME, is currently available through Secret Cravings Publishing. To learn more about Lena and her work, visit www.LenaHartSite.com or find her rambling at scatblogging.blogspot.com

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