What makes a villain?
A great literary villain can be almost pure evil. Many villains are very complex and seemingly lost in their amorality. The villains are twisted, dark and evil.
The Random House Dictionary defines a villain as “a viciously malicious person who is engaged in or engaged in evil and crime; a scoundrel; or a character in a play, novel, or the like, who constitutes a major evil agency in the plot.” “.
Villains are usually very scary, chaotic, and impulsive. All good literary villains are quite vocal about their sinister plans and motivations. They also tend to be very impulsive in their actions, which will almost certainly lead to their downfall in the end.
Nearly every villain has a deep, dark past that has helped make them the sociopaths they are today. Sociopaths are actually very rare and very noticeable, if you’re looking, because they just don’t behave like normal people.
A great literary villain will have aspects of their personality that subtly remind you that they are still human and a part of them is torn apart by their actions and misdeeds. Creating a more sympathetic villain will add complexity to your story and make readers love him even more.
Some examples of great literary villains are:
• Darth Vader from Star Wars
• Lord Valdemort, from Harry Potter
• Lake, from Shakespeare’s Othello
• Sauron, from The Lord of the Rings trilogy
• Hannibal Lecter, from the Silence of the Lambs movies
And a more recent addition to the list of great movie villains is:
• Colonel Landa, from Inglourious Bastards
These characters are great literary villains because they strike fear into the hearts of readers and viewers with their dark and menacing ways and they seem to be the true embodiment of evil because they have no remorse for the evil they have done.
There is a second type of villain, one that is much more tragic than the pure evil villain. These villains are much more self-aware and intelligent and resemble ordinary people. They usually have a story or backstory that makes you feel for them instead of just hating them like you would an “evil” villain.
Villains help make a story interesting. Without a villain or opposing character, what would your hero have left to do?
A secret of most good villains is that they have many similarities to the hero of the story, right down to their very nature. Keep this in mind during the next movie you watch or the next book you read and see if you can tell the difference.