Villains : Easy or Hard to Create?

… and what to do when you have trouble creating one?

That’s my whole dilemma right now. I have a story for my hero(es) and I know they are being chased but the villains motives have been fairly elusive other than the fact he wants to win. It feels like every time I try to formulate his character I fall upon stereotypes and retreads. It’s not that I’m wanting to be the impossible “original,” I just want to develope a sense of who he or she is before he or she shows up. I don’t know if it’s a thing I have about not wanting to hurt my “children” or if I just simply don’t have a good grasp on evil.

Would love to get suggestions and/or commiserations!

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Treat him or her like he’s the hero of his story. Do the character work that you did for the protagonist.

Write a scene from his perspective even if it’s just getting up in the morning.

Bad guys aren’t always evil. They have a legit reason for doing what they do.

Something to think about. “Everyone is the villain of someone’s story.” You think of how your hero might be perceived as a villian. It might help you think of your actual villian motives.

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Hi Sharon,

definitely take AJ’s advice, even for secondary characters. It makes a lot of sense to treat all characters on the same footing. You might wanna switch perspectives when you get to know them better.

A blog I really like about villains’ motivations. It discusses ten major motivations for villains with examples on three levels (moderate, full on and extreme) and gives indications for straight and reversed causes. It’s a great read in any case.

Another thing that can help balancing characters is to think about their overall role as an archetype. Eannagrams help me a lot here. Psychology (after Jung) is a great resource for creating interesting types:


Remember: Your villain might be a good guy from his perspective with a righteous cause, but misguided to extreme measures.

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I use Eannagrams too.

this is one of my favorite sites: http://characterchange.com/

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:eyes: oooh, my boyfriend will LOVE this. Thanks, AJ!

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Awesome chart!

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Thank you all! This will definitely help!

Ive toyed with Enneagrams myself. Never was much of a psychology student (maybe thats why Im having such a hard time???) Those were really good help with my MC and supporting characters.

Chris I tried that first link you posted and for some reason it kept giving me an error page. Is there a way I can google it?

AJ - I like that page you posted! Ill play with it this weekend.

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The link in verbatim is:
https://novelchick.com/articles/all-the-good-stuff-about-the-bad-guys
I am getting a “the security certificate is too old” message and have to click on “yeah, I don’t care” to get to the page. Guess the blog isn’t maintained well. I could copy it entirely here, but that doesn’t seem right to do. Try again?

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I recommend watching Natalia Leigh’s video on writing villains. I found it really helpful for myself.

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I had been wondering about this for a while now. In the past 2 weeks I’ve had an apifany. If you want to write a really good villan take from your personal experience. That boss who was a big a-hole. Write about your own experience with them. Only the evil guy does it to your protagonist. Or maybe to a bystander who did nothing to provoke it. Or that bully from school. Or even that waitress who started cleaning the table before you were done eating. Generally you can even think as to why they do it. In the waitress case she just wants to go home and doesn’t care anymore. If you become a well known author maybe people will regret treating you bad because you will just write them in your next story. But even if not its cathartic for you. Just thinking about some jerk makes it easy to write bad guys. Just my two cents.

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The broken link from above is wrong, the right link is actually this:

https://refiction.com/articles/all-the-good-stuff-about-the-bad-guys

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