I usually do "Top 5"s or "Top 10"s of things when I'm running low on ideas, because lists make everything better, but I decided to edge out of my comfort zone today.
Today, I'm [trying] to do a post on how to write for good villains. Mainly because I really struggle with this but shh don't tell anyone.
This is really just a compilation of things I've read that really helped me write them as less cliché and more powerful, more scary, and, as always, make them have a really awesome backstory. Villains aren't villains just because. They always have some sort of motivation-- be it ridiculous or morbid.
Start with the basics. What does your villain look like? Would you instantly single him/her out as a bad person, or do you want it to be a shock when they're revealed?
Villains typically have a very dark look about them, although there are some exceptions. Sometimes, the woman are dressed professionally and just has that natural ability to command attention. These villains are usually extremely smart. The two top clichés are these:
1. The eccentric.
2. The gorgeous mastermind.
Sometimes, the main character is even attracted to the evil guy/girl. That's perfectly okay. Normal, even. If they're drop-dead gorgeous, your main character is going to notice.
The first question to ask yourself is this:
Why is my villain here?
What is his/her purpose? Are they there as an obstacle for the main character, or do they represent part of the story's theme?
What kind of villain suits my story? is question #2.
Crime lord? Serial killer? Demons? Fallen angels? Dragons?
The amount of villains that are possible is insane. But which one suits your story?
Question 3: What makes my villain a villain?
What event in their past hardened them? What goals do they have? Why do they have those goals? If they're only there because they simply don't like your character, then that's not good enough. Everyone needs a backstory. This incident is what made your villain who he/she is. Don't soften it. Make it a tragedy, something that would make you pity them-- if only for a little while.
What does my villain enjoy/love?
This one should be tough. I mean, they're evil, right? What could they possible enjoy/love? Well, it could be a person. Or it could simply be taking a walk in the fresh air.
Why does your villain chose to be a villain for your hero?
Yeah, he's evil. But he's especially evil for your main character. Why? Is your mc part of that tragic thing that made him who he is? Maybe your mc did something terrible in their past that they regret, and now it's coming back to haunt them in the form of your villain. Toss around some ideas and pick the one that makes the most sense.
What is my villain afraid of?
Don't make this ridiculous, or your villain won't be taken seriously. But they don't have to be too complicated either, so don't stress! It could simply fear of failure. This would be a reason of why they're so persistent or why they always come back after you think you finally got rid of them. They can't stand the thought of defeat.
Will my villain die?
Yes? No? Ultimately, the choice is up to who your main character has become throughout their battles and losses and victories. If your main character had the choice to kill your villain, would they?
One more thing. This isn't really a question-- actually, it's a suggestion.
Don't be afraid to have more than one villain.
There are always bad people. Sure, some are more so than others, but your main character is not going to meet only one person who wants to stop them in whatever they're doing.
Think Harry Potter.
Voldemort was the main villain, but there were loads of others. Sooo many others.
Also, please, avoid cheesy greetings or nicknames. If that's part of who your villain is, then fine. Go for it. But when there's this awesome villain and then they say
"Well, well, well..."
"So, we meet again."
and it just makes me cringe. Sorry.
That gif was mainly for "bad guy" purposes, but seriously. Mother Gothel was a good villain. She was so good at deceiving and acting and she almost won! She wanted more than anything to be young and beautiful forever. So she kidnapped a baby girl, raised her as her own, kept her locked in the tower, and even when Rapunzel escaped, eventually got her back up in that tower.
Which brings me to my last statement:
Don't make it too easy for your hero to win.