So I Need A Villan

Created about 2 years ago by Jordan M Tetley with 12 comments
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Picture Serdar Yegulalp · Author · edited over 1 year ago · 1 like
When people say "A villain is always a hero in his own mind," or something to that effect, I think about it this way:

A villain can only be a hero in his own story.

A hero can be a hero in everyone’s story.
Beardjon J. Mikhael Adams · Author · edited about 2 years ago
This is my first swim through the Inkshares forum and I have to say this community offers great feedback. I think the villain’s motivation is the most important part of his character arc, if the story focuses on the protagonist. But I would also add that in the book Burning Down The House, Charles Baxter makes a convincing case that there aren’t any real villains in media anymore - every villain  gets a traumatic backstory that explains their evil motives as a natural response to their lived experience. We sympathize with them, which can be powerful but sometimes removes their evil "punch." He begs authors to come up with good, strong, melodramatic villains who are just bad. I love Chigurh from No Country For Old Men because he’s just a badass embodiment of evil. He’s scary because his motivation is a mystery. I guess I mean that mysterious and evil can be a motivation in itself if done right. My $.02. 
Pakk! Jacob Zoller · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 1 like
When it comes to villains there are a few choices you have to make. Do you want your villain to be purely evil, chaos for the sake of chaos? Or is he trying to do what HE thinks is right? Is he the protagonist of his own story?

Once you have figured out what kind of villain you have, you have to give him a reason. If he just wants chaos, what’s the reason for that? If he’s more complicated and is trying to do the "right" thing, how did he arrive at that conclusion? 

Going into personality. Is he the type of person who would try to explain his side of things to get more people on his side? Or would he just coerce people to join him? When he comes to clash with the protagonist, is he going to just throw some fireballs and be done with it, or will this hurt him to do so?

There are fantastic villains who fall into each category. If you want true depth, I would look into a villain who gives you a good bit of cognitive dissonance when you look at him- Sure, he’s doing wrong, but he’s really trying to do it for a good reason. When he gets defeated he doesn’t scream "next time gadget!" and run away, he falls to the ground and cries because his dreams have fallen around him. In that way, he is never really defeated because his dreams live forever in the mind of the protagonist. And the protagonist is haunted by what he did. Yeah, he did what was right... but he could have just as easily sided with the other guy and THAT would have been "right." That’s the sympathetic villain, and he’s one of the best in my opinion.

In contrast to the sympathetic villain, there is the pure, unadulterated evil villain. This guy is just bad news all the way around. And he is going to make you regret crossing him. Why is he evil? Nobody knows. Something must have happened, but anyone who asks him about it ends up charred inside and out. Should we feel bad for him? Well, let’s wait until he finishes blowing up the puppy orphanage to ask him. The pure evil villain is also among the most badass guys out there. He crushes potential protagonists with a snap of his finger, leaving them alive to come back for another beating later. Once he is dead the protagonist gets haunted again... but this time by the people that he couldn’t save. 

I find writing up short stories helps me find what kind of bad guy I want. Just my two cents!
Picture Joseph Asphahani · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 2 likes
Hey, @Jordan M Tetley , you wrote: 

" The Antagonist is one who doesn’t want a bridge. So in other words, he wasn’t to take down the Bridge who is dividing the plains. Plains being the real world and the afterlife. So I need to find a reason why he would want to do that? Like winning a loved one back, like thinking the plains should be the same thing? Can a simple idea in that retrospect work? "

And the answer(s) is: Yes, yes, and yes!

You answered your own question - if the Protagonist is trying to DO something - to BE the bridge, so to speak - then the antagonist needs to stop them. The story DEMANDS that there’s a force or person working against them, either directly or indirectly. They need to butt heads every now and then, or at least the Bridge/Protagonist needs to come across the villain’s "influence" in the world - some challenge for them to overcome. Ultimately, there needs to be a showdown of their ideals at the end - the climax - from which only one of them will walk away.

So, yes, FIND A REASON for the villain to oppose the hero, and you’re set. Now, it can’t just be a mustache-twirler "I’m evil just because" kind of character. Those are very, very boring. The reason the bad guy does what he does has to be something readers can identify with - we don’t necessarily have to agree with it - but on a deep level we can relate to it, we can in some small way see ourselves wanting to do the same thing if we were in his/her situation.

For my own book "The Animal in Man" - I actually designed the villain first. (And give him a frikkin cool name - Salastragore - which I’m kinda proud of...!) My whole story started as a D&D campaign a loooooong time ago, so I didn’t even know who the Player-characters would be, but I KNEW already who they would be fighting against. I had his whole backstory, and all his plans were sewn into the campaign, so no matter who my players chose to play, they would be encountering either him, his agents, or his influence throughout their story. That’s just how my story took shape, kind of backwards, by designing the world and the villain first. Most stories, I’d wager, start on the ’right’ foot and think in terms of who the hero is, and how they’re going to leave their footprint on the world as they move through it.
Img 20160806 023915 Luke Fellner · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 1 like
@Jordan M Tetley Death (a character) would be more of an anti-hero, because your protagonist knows of the afterlife, so death isn’t necessarily a bad thing to her. The antagonist’s motive could be the same as Satan, where they just want to mess things up for whatever the force of good is, because they want to be the one in charge
13435475 1061961560541161 5686564091409873058 n Jordan M Tetley · Author · added about 2 years ago
Firstly Thankyou, @Joseph Asphahani @Joey Angotti @Luke Fellner  Antagonist. 

My protagonist is a character of many lives, may people who need an Antagonist that can keep up with that. Although her personality doesn’t and does change in slight ways she is the so called Bridge to the afterlife as people know it. 

The Antagonist is one who doesn’t want a bridge. So in other words, he wasn’t to take down the Bridge who is dividing the plains. Plains being the real world and the afterlife. So I need to find a reason why he would want to do that? Like winning a loved one back, like thinking the plains should be the same thing? Can a simple idea in that retrospect work? 

Or can there be two villain? The Antagonist is one and as you guys have said Death be the other? The bridge doesn’t die? but what if something changes and she could? would Death then be her enemy? Or even better she has to watch her friends and family die, so in that sense death is her enemy?

Please let me know what you think?
Img 20160806 023915 Luke Fellner · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 2 likes

@Jordan M Tetley I saw that your book is up for preorders, good luck and I’m not sure if you still need help but here’s some things I use for my villains.

 Think of something that scares you and make that character the embodiment of that fear

Think of what your protagonist fears and think of that

Not all villains are characters. Think of a conflict, not every story has a particular villain, but all the ones I know of have a conflict. Possibly a force of nature, bad situation,  basically a barrier between them and their goals.

If your villain is a character make them multi-dimensional. Most people sincerely believe what they are doing is the right thing to do. They likely view your protagonist as their villain, and villains aren’t usually only up to being villainous (a good villain can be anything depending on the story. Judging by yours think of using death itself as a villain)

I hope this helps anyone that reads this, let me know if I missed anything because a big part of my stories are the villains. 

Ty0a6epntatahkjz4zl2 Joey Angotti · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 4 likes
I pretty much entirely agree with @Joseph Asphahani Other than having a pretty awesome name(AmIright?), but he pretty much hit the nail on the head. The perfect villain is just as likeable/relate-able as your main characters. The best villains ever are the ones you "Love to Hate."

I won’t elaborate, since Joseph pretty much said everything I would say on the matter, but I’ll provide some examples. 

If you ever watched the Starz series of Spartacus(it’s my favorite show ever), the blood, sex and violence is a bit over the top but if you dig deeper it has one of the greatest written scripts of all time. The dialogue used on the show is in a Shakespearean style which helps but what makes it so good is the villains are just as likeable as the heroes. You can see where Spartacus, Crixus and Gannicus are coming from but you can also see where Batiatus, Marcus Crassus and Caesar are coming from too.

^That’s a pretty obscure example, I know. But let’s do a more known one.

Batman vs. The Joker. I know, I know... There’s so many stories about the two but the best ones happen to be the ones where The Joker points out the fact that Batman is literally one bad day away(Sorry, just watched "The Killing Joke.") from becoming The Joker. Batman is the hero, but The Joker exists SOLELY to mess with Batman to the point that Batman becomes just as messed up and deranged as him. In most stories it doesn’t work, but they exist to move each other in their "destined"/written path.  Batman needs The Joker and The Joker needs Batman. The plot needs both. The writer needs both. Ultimately, the reader needs both.

The best Hero/Villain relationships involve them driving each other in the direction they need to take.
Picture Joseph Asphahani · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 2 likes
If you want to design a good villain, think in more simple terms. First of all, there’s no "hero" to your story. There’s only the Protagonist. The morality of his actions are NOT important whatsoever. (More on this later.) All that matters is what he/she WANTS to accomplish. Also, establish what he/she NEEDS (but is completely unaware of). The WANT is external - it’s a thing they can hold, or a finish line they can cross. The NEED is internal - it’s a realization they have to make, a change they must undergo. The ENTIRE story revolves around them starting down the road toward their WANT, but by the end they must realize the NEED - and the climax is either them transforming or failing. So that’s protagonist in a nutshell. From there, to answer your concern more directly, you’re going to need an ANTAGONIST. Don’t say ’villain’ because then that gets into the morality stuff that you absolutely must avoid. (...sounds harsh, I know ’villain’ is the common term, I use it myself, but you know what I’m getting at...)

The antagonist wants something in direct opposition to the protagonist. That’s all it is. Every plot movement the prot. takes forward - every choice he/she makes - must be met with CONFLICT. The hidden or direct hand of the Ant. must be present - either he/she shows up to fight, or his/her lieutenants are sent on his/her behalf. Or he/sh has laid a trap, etc. etc.  @A. White is right - the antagonist does NOT have to be an actual character. It can be a force of nature, or supernatural, or even just the voice in the prot.’s own head (good luck with that one, but it’s doable). Again, this is defined by the conflict that the story needs. (Your good ol’ man vs. man, self, nature, yada yada yada.)

Now... An explanation about why morality doesn’t matter: There’s no such thing as good vs. evil.  - -  Good vs. evil is boring.  - -  The hero/protagonist may think that what he’s doing is good. The thinking/belief/conviction part of it is all that matters. Now, Likewise, the villain/antagonist must believe that what they’re doing is good too. ...now you’re moving in the right direction.

So avoid labeling your conflict as good vs. evil. A step in a more correct direction after that is to think in terms of right vs. wrong.  - -  But even that isn’t the correct way to go. It’s better than good vs. evil, but right vs. wrong is also going to end up being something terrible.

...so what you ultimately want is Right Vs. Right. Let me explain...

The ’villain’ (ah, let’s just call him that!)... The villain views himself as the hero of his own story. What he’s doing is RIGHT. If you want a really powerful, resonant villain, then you need to make sure that his ideals are something that the readers will identify with, maybe not on the surface, but somewhere deep down. No matter how terrible, disgusting, horrific the villain is by his actions and beliefs, somewhere deep down the reader must say ’you know.. I can see where he’s coming from.’ ... ever read Watchmen? Ozymandias - the villain - did what he thought was right. And deep down, I somewhat identify with that. I listened to Tool’s song "Aenima" once too, you know. Sometimes I wish a catastrophe would befall humanity so that maybe, at last, we can all work together and live in peace... ......Holy hell what am I saying?!?!?  ...see? Great villain.

So in the end, when you’re trying to make a great villain - always remember that it’s a matter of right vs. right.  The villain, just as much as the hero, has to be someone that readers can identify with. Ultimately, the hero comes out on top. (....or does he?)

Sorry to supply such an elaborate answer, but these are the kinds of things that really set my writer-brain on fire! :D  I love talking about this kind of stuff. I used to teach it, in fact. And I got all this story-structure stuff just boiling over. I would love to discuss further in this thread!
Lxftacps Brian Marsden · Author · added about 2 years ago
How about someone that lost someone and wants them back. Bridges are cross-able in both directions... though I suppose a murderer that keeps killing people so they can catch the bridge while it’s in the material world might be a little dark for your story... How about someone whose suicidal in an attempt to do the samething and cross over to bring back a loved one.  If they make it to the afterlife you have another story as the bridge has to go bring them back.
Unholy pursuit poster A. White · Author · edited about 2 years ago · 2 likes
Hi Jordan, nice to meet you. All stories do not need a traditional villain. Some readers may view death as a villain. All villains doesn’t need to an obvious villain. It depends on where the story is gong. Subdue villains are not obvious to the readers. But if you believe you need one creating a villain is rather easy, all you need to do is look around at all the bad people you have encountered in life and tweet all those characteristics, attributes to fix your story. There are far more resources and examples to serve for villains than there are heroes or heroines. Perhaps yours need an adversary which isn’t always necessarily a villain in a tradition sense. I hope this helps. :)
13435475 1061961560541161 5686564091409873058 n Jordan M Tetley · Author · added about 2 years ago
I at the moment don’t have a specific Villain. I am no sure if I need one, but I want people opinions. So?  https://www.inkshares.com/books/the-bridge-570f6a