Think of Voldemort in Harry Potter or tortoise in typical African folklores. These characters weren’t mischievous, wicked, naughty, heartless, etc. Some of the best stories you’ve probably read made you remember the bad guy; the authors made the bad guy stick in your head. They made you love to hate the bad guy, and that’s good. But what’s better is a villain that you feel bad for, and you hate the fact that you feel bad for him, but you just can’t help it.
What made the ‘guy’ bad was that he antagonised the hero. But, on the other hand, he is also good because he made your hero heroic – built and resolved the conflict. He is needed to build your plot; he is needed in your story.
When writing your story, you need to carefully create a compelling and an unforgettable villain that your readers will love to hate or hate to love, and some of the ways to create that perfect bad guy are;
- Establish your villain’s driving force: you must be able to establish the motivation behind your villain’s actions. This will help you set their goals and even their personality. Your villain must have what drives his moves, his opposing views, and actions, as well as what he seeks to achieve in the end.
- Be empathic to their course: to create a perfect villain, you must be able to wear their glasses to see things from their own perspectives. Consider how you react to the thorny issues of life, your temperament amidst provocations, and determine the emotions you attach to your villain.
- Announce your villain with a hooker: the way you introduce your villain in your story is important to forming your audience’s perception of him or her. The appearance, personae, and even the dressing of your villain can help create a malicious view of your villain from the onset.
- Give your villain a unique power and ability: if you are writing a thriller or a fantasy story, it is important to attach some special ability to your villain. These abilities will help your villain explore the vulnerability of your hero and allow the villain to perform remarkable damage. Giving your villain specific powers helps to raise the bar of your story.
- Define the character trait of your villain: this is very important in creating both the protagonist and the antagonist of a story. Before you sit down to write the plot of your story, Identify the character trait you want your villain to possess. Think of a simple word that can paint a perfect picture of your villain and build his actions and roles along that line. For instance, you can decide to depict your villain as a mischievous, evil, charismatic, manipulative, or quiet character. Give vivid details when describing because what you show will stick faster to your reader; that will determine how memorable your villain will be. Give little details like mannerisms, physical features, how they smack their lips, their eye feature, their cold stare, the scar on their face, movement of their nostrils etc.
- Be careful of your language: You don’t want to make your villain sound too antagonistic with his words. Don’t give him a flowery language that sounds too mechanical and makes him completely different from other characters. Though you want him to be different, let him blend with his environment. You want your villain to be a product of his environment, so don’t reduce him to be fake or unreal. Let other characteristics reveal his personality. His demeanour or environment can reveal more than his speech.
- Create a connection with your protagonist: Create an indissoluble bond between your villain and protagonist. You want your villain to help define the protagonist’s role by consistently opposing what he does. You may choose to cause a colossal damage that will become a reference point for revenge and shape the actions and inactions of the hero. The destiny of your protagonist and the antagonist in a story should be tied to each other.
- Defined morality: You should have a veritable reason for your villain’s actions in your story. Suppose you make your villain destructive or have an insatiable appetite for killing and maiming people. In that case, he should have a strong reason for doing so. There must be a strong reference point for the decisions he takes and his perspectives on issues in the plot.
- A deserving rival: Your villain must be a worthy rival to the hero. He must be strong enough to oppose the hero and difficult to be defeated. He must be able to stir tension in the hero’s camp and stake a claim to every damage done. A smart and highly intelligent villain will constantly keep the hero on his toes, stir his creativity and inspire his ingenuity.
- Compelling history: Have an enticing back story capable of sympathising with his course. This further strengthens your character by showing the full scale of his journey in the plot and the circumstances that made him transform from a good guy to a bad guy or vice versa.
- Infuse the fun element in a story: Life isn’t a bed of roses; nothing is in the state of perfection. Although the roles of villains are usually terrifying, their roles add fun and intrigue to the plot of a story. A perfect villain depicts some qualities we love to hate, whether his terror-induced humour or his nauseating views.
Creating a perfect antagonist is as important as creating a perfect protagonist. Your hero doesn’t have to win all the time; you can let your villain triumph in your story, or better still, flip the switch. Make the hero develop into the bad guy, and the bad guy change into a good guy.
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