What is it about the villain that captures our imagination? Whether the villain be male, female, AI, or something all -together alien, there seems to be certain qualities that all villains possess.
Number one: the motivation. This is the main point the villain hopes to achieve. Revenge? Riches? Power? Knowing your villain’s motivation can help you create the basis for the character. This is the thing that your character will do anything to achieve or obtain. The AI in Asimov’s I Robot hopes to bring about the safety and continued existence of man by creating a world in which man has no free will.
Number two: the nemesis. Every villain has a nemesis. A hero with a heart of gold. The light to his dark. Without the hero’s illustrious good character the reader could never realize the villain’s true darkness. Some would argue that we would never know the true depths of Moriarty’s depravity without the shining example of Holmes to compare him to.
Number Three: A deep, dark secret. This is your villain’s deepest secret. The one thing that no one knows, and may, in fact, redeem the villain in the eyes of the reader. (I’m a huge fan of the villain redeemed, and love it when the villain gets his own HEA). This is a story of the villain’s past that even the hero does not know. The wrong done to the villain, or the abuse suffered, that has warped the villain in some pressing way.
Number Four: Some tiny speck of humanity. Your villain has feelings. Your villain had a mother, a father, and perhaps a loved one. Your villain was once a child, and has suffered. (In most cases. Sometimes the villain is a robot, but then you might argue that he was at the mercy of his creator for his evil ways). There are outside forces that have acted on your villain to make him/her into the person they are today. This acts on your character’s motivation. Maybe your villain has a soft spot for girls with green eyes because they remind him of his sister, or maybe he kills them on sight for the same reason. Know your villain’s emotions and know that he feels things just as deeply as your hero.
Whatever your character’s motivation, your villain is an important part of the story. Whether the reader needs to know him as intimately as the hero depends on the story, but the author should know everything about him. Let your villain become as three dimensional as your hero, so that your hero’s victory is that much sweeter. Or, redeem your villain and bring him into the light as a main character at a later date.
Amy R. DeClerck
Author AR DeClerck
AR DeClerck is a mother, wife and dialysis technician who lives in the Quad Cities, IL. An avid reader, reviewer and writer she favors sci fi and scifi romance genres. She attributes her love of books and all things literature to her mother, who always has a book nearby.
Current SFR novel available:
Forged in Fire by AR DeClerck via Nevermore Press Dec 2014