Villains Should be Teddy Bears with Knives as Hearts

Grungy background with overlaid text that reads: Villains should be teddy bears with knives as hearts

Villains. They can’t exist solely to be evil. You can't rely on your villain to be a psychopath who does evil things for the sake of causing misery--it's boring. And lazy.

The villain’s wants and needs are in opposition to the main character’s, however, just as valid. Remember that; Just As Valid. So, when writing your villain put as much care into them as your main character (MC). As a reader I want to hurt for the villain but know, in the end, they must fail.

Don’t just slap a cool name and a twirling mustache on the page and call it a day. Let your reader hurt for the villain. Let them see the good in them. Create a villain who’s approachable and affable. Make your reader want to take an afternoon tea and willingly spill their secrets to them.

Of course, your villain, in true villainy, will turn around and rip your reader’s heart out (and MC's) and leave them pleading for more while sobbing uncontrollably.

Consider the following items when fleshing out your villain. Or, as we’ll call her, Peggy.

  • Imagine the story from your villain’s perspective

  • Peggy didn’t appear out of a vacuum to make MC’s life hell. There’s a reason Peggy is evil. Take time to write about Peggy’s motives, why she hates MC, does she view MC as her personal Peggy?

  • What is Peggy’s backstory? What brought her to be the villain of your main character?

  • Peggy had a childhood. Take some time and imagine what Peggy was like as a child, what her living situation was, think of key parts of her experience that shaped her personality into the villain she is in your story.

  • Plot out ways in which your villain succeeds

  • For this exercise, Peggy succeeds in all her evil deeds. Type up ideas of what that world looks like for Peggy and what her next thing to conquer would be.

  • Make your villain relatable

  • Peggy has a soft side. Does she like kittens and rainbows? Does she have a romantic partner? A BFF? Does she have a cat named Wally with a bushy tail that she loves to feed fish treats to? Maybe. Giving Peggy normal things that everybody cares about makes her relatable.

My current fave: In The Walking Dead, Rick Grimes is the hero and Negan is the villain. But Negan sees himself as the hero in his own story. He is the savior. And Rick is ruining that. For EVERYBODY. And Negan has to be the one to stop him. You know for sure Negan is the villain here but a tiny voice, in the back of your head, wonders, is he though?

Who's top on your list of lovable villains?

What's a scene that shows a villain's humanity?

This post originally appeared here --as part of Laura Seeber's series on villains. Other contributors had some insightful things to say about villains.

I made some changes and reposted my piece here with permission of Laura R. Seeber to link back to her blog. (She's got other great posts there, I definitely recommend you check it out.)

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