How should I write a compelling villain?

I'm in the process of writing my own novel, but I've realized that my main villain is one dimensional and uninteresting, so I'd like to make him more compelling, and I'd like your ideas.

7 Answers

  • 2 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    1. The villain must always think he is doing the right thing even if it's the wrong

    2. The villain is (sometimes at least) also a human - give him human features and needs: a goal, interests, family, emotions, etc.

    3. Make the reader sympathize with the villain: give him a background, a tragic past or something that the reader can relate to

    4. Understand him on a level that would make his goals make sense

    5. You can give him a goal that is actually good but make him do the wrong things in order to reach that good goal: etc. world peace, but kills armies and hundreds of people

    6. Make him attractive: works to make him more compelling ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

    7. Give him a personality as any other character, then label him as VILLAIN, because being a person comes before titles (also keep in mind that he doesn't need to have a sh!tty personality only because he is a villain, make him The Nice Destroyer of Worlds if you want)

    8. Make him happy and proud with lots of self-esteem to make him compelling, instead of brooding angsty plotter

    9. Again, make him RELATABLE. It doesn't have to be like "bad" things relatable but like normal stuff. Maybe he really likes very common things like coffee and sunsets or thinks that slavery is wrong. The reader will think of him in different ways when finding out that "huh, we have something in common"

    10. Your villain is your villain so make him how you want to, but do not make him a cartoon villain. Example: "Well well well ... What do we have here?" "It is I, the Evil Villain! Muhahahha!" "And now ... I shall kill you very slowly and talk about my evil plan while you manage to escape ... yes ..."

    Hope this helped, good luck with your novel! :)

  • 2 years ago

    The best villains are those whose motivations are as understandable as those of the hero. Work on making a villain who is complex, who readers will find themselves sympathizing with or even liking at times while still recognizing them as evil in the context of the story.

  • Diane
    Lv 4
    2 years ago

    The same way you write a compelling protagonist. Don't make him/her be 100% evil since that will make for a one dimensional character. Try to give him/her a reason to oppose your protagonist even if that reason might be twisted or delusional. Every one values something so figure out what your villain values.

  • Marli
    Lv 7
    2 years ago

    Bullies, bastards & bitches : how to write the bad guys of fiction

    Morrell, Jessica Page, 1953-

    2008, Book , 296 pages :

    The power of the dark side : creating great villains, dangerous situations, & dramatic conflict

    Smith, Pamela Jaye, 1948-

    2008, Book , xix, 242 pages

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  • 2 years ago

    It depends what the novel is about. If it s a sort of sci-fi thing then go for a broken past and have them discover that their true identity is what their past life was as a murderer and you can make their family tree come back to someone who is in prison or has been to prison for hideous crimes. If it s a horror story then go for a character who knows that he s doing a bad thing but he wants to do it because it releases his anger. He may have anger issues and has a coping mechanism of hurting and killing other people. The way to make a villain even more scary is to give them a name of an infamous person from your country so when people read the book they are even more scared because the book might become real if the readers mind works like that. Just a few ideas for ya. Feel free to ask more questions

  • 2 years ago

    There's a lot of truth in the saying that every character is the hero in his own story.

    Crafting a good villain is harder than a good hero. His actions, however awful they may be, have to make sense to him, to be a reasonable thing to do in light of his situation and its needs. And you need to understand all that, including how he thinks and reasons, and why he does what he does, to sell it to the reader--even if all that you've figured out doesn't make it to the page.

    I'll stop reading a book where the villain does evil things because he's crazy. That's the laziest cop-out there is. You can make him mentally ill, but you still have to give him reasons for every action within the context of his illness.

  • 2 years ago

    Make it so that the villain does really evil stuff, like knocking on people's doors and running away, or phoning up people at random and calling them rude names.

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