– Kelley & Asti
The Villain Checklist
First of all, thanks a lot to the girls of Oh the Books, for giving me the chance to guest post at their blog. I was pretty happy when Asti said yes to my post concept!:)
Having said that, let’s move on to the topic at hand!
I am a reader who loves villains! One of the most important aspects which I look for in a book is the creation of character, and I personally think that villains are one of the crucial characters in a story, and I really appreciate a well crafted, complicated and twisted fictional villain.
But sometimes it’s rare for me to come across such villains in YA fiction. I often wish that authors give equal importance to the creation of the villain as much as the hero, because if you ask me, a villain is as important to a story as the main character, because he is the one who gives the hero a purpose, a cause and a reason to fight!
Most heroes would probably be as fun as bland puddings if they didn’t have interesting villains to fight against!
So here’s a list of things, which I think would make an awesome, twisted and nefarious villain, from a reader’s perspective!
A villain should have a purpose
We need to know why he’s the bad guy! Because, from a villain’s perspective, he’s fighting for something which he thinks is right! We need to know his reason. It could be a bad past experience , the way he was raised, his beliefs or a want for revenge! He might be driven by his ambition, jealousy, his desire for power, control, love, acceptance or recognition.
For example, Voldemort’s reason was prejudice – and Rowling gave such a stable backstory as the cause of it. Likewise, in the Grisha Trilogy, The Darkling had a craving for power, which made him the bad guy of the series.
Whatever it is, it must be said to the reader, so that we can agree that, though the guy is evil, he has a reason to be that way, a purpose for doing what he’s doing and a goal he wants to fulfill no matter how hard he has to work for it.
But at the same time, he should be unapologetic
I don’t want a villain who makes excuses for what he does. I want a villain, who knows that what he’s doing is immoral, wrong and evil but still does it. Long story short, I want a villain who accepts wholeheartedly that he’s the villain of the story.
“If Eli really was a hero, and Victor meant to stop him, did that make him a villain?
He took a long sip of his drink, tipped his head back against the couch, and decided he could live with that.”
“The Darkling slumped back in his chair.
“Fine,” he said with a weary shrug. “Make me your villain.”
He must have a soft spot or a vulnerability
Because come on, villains can be awesome people, but they are also human beings – well, sometimes they might not be, but let’s just ignore that for a sec:) – so they should have a vulnerability, to prove that they’re normal people who just chose the wrong side of the fight. That vulnerability can be a quality of the villain that’s not seen often by people, or a person whom they have a soft spot for, or a backstory which explains their life before they became a villain. Whatever it is, it must remind the reader that the villain is a human being, a person not so different from the hero, the only think that made him different was the path he chose to act on.
(Cookies to everyone who knows where I got the reference from!:))
I want a villain who confuses the readers’ minds
I don’t want a guy who professes that he’s the villain of the story in the second page itself, and convinces the reader that he’s a character that should be hated, from the start of the story. I want to find it out myself. I want a villain who plays with the readers’ minds, so much so that you don’t realize that he’s the evil guy of the book until he decides to take off his disguise.
This might not work in all books, but I do like it when the readers- along with the main character – finds out that they’ve been deceived by the guy all along! I personally think that this trait makes a villain a powerful one, and makes him all the more dangerous, as he’s clearly manipulative and cunning as well as evil! I want a guy who works with lies, deception and mind games, one who plays with feelings and manipulates emotions.
“I can’t believe I didn’t see him for what he was from the beginning: a wolf in sheep’s clothing.”
And finally, make me see the story in the villain’s perspective
Though I do love a story in the villain’s pov, that isn’t what I am talking about here. I want a few glimpses of the way the villain thinks, and I want to know and understand him as a character, as a person. More than that, I want to look at the villain as just another character from the story, evaluate and analyse him myself, through his actions, motives and attitude. I don’t want to judge a villain, just with what the hero says about him, because I firmly believe that the villain is the hero of his own story, and that I can’t judge him until I know that story.
“Sometimes I wish I could step outside of myself for a while. I want to leave this worn body behind, but my chains are too many, my weights too heavy.”
“A villain is just a victim whose story hasn’t been told.”