I’ve seen some posts discussing what makes a good villain and I decided to make my post about it to share my thoughts. I will be telling you what makes a good villain and how you know a villain has been well written. I might even tell you my all time favourite villain at the end.
Bit of a weird statement to write but makes sense when you think about it. If a villain is completely and utterly despised by readers then that is how the author knows he or she has done a good job. Sure the goal of a villain is to be twisted and have goals that are wrong or dangerous.
A good villain has to succeed in some of his or her goals. Think about it; if the good guys beat the villain in every fight then there is no danger. Readers will not feel anything towards the villain and will not worry about what the villain is threatening as it is unlikely to become a reality.
A villains evil has to be in some way justified. Readers will want to know why the character is the way he or she is. The reason doesn’t have to be mind blowing. It can be small but I think us readers need to believe the characters evil.
Actions and words can both be used as weapons but which is better? I think a balance of both make a good villain. If there is to many actions the villain can start to be viewed as a machine and not a person. Words and threats can be used to show that the villain is a person (I assume) and remind readers that their choices are often unpredictable.
If the villain appears to be stupid then I don’t think readers will take him or her very seriously. I know I wouldn’t. It is an absolute necessity that the villain shows some initiative and brains. A villain can do this by careful planning and not rushing into situations head first.
A villain must be manipulative. There is nothing more I can say. It’s just a key villain personality trait.
My favourite villain of all time is Sebastian Morgenstern from Cassandra Clares, The Mortal Instruments because he ticks all the above boxes. He’s smart, manipulative and I absolutely HATED him. Yay! I also could not see a way in which he did not succeed because he was just SO good at being a villain. Go Sebastian!
I want to know your opinions! Do you agree with my points? Is there anything you would add? Let me know in the comments!