Writing a Great Antagonist

Last week we talked about two compelling types of villains.

This week we’re going to talk about a checklist of things that you should have for every villain you write.

  • Motivation. Most readers aren’t going to buy a character who is just doing evil things because they can. Even a character like The Joker, who is sort of bad for the sake of being bad, is motivated by his mental illness. There are plenty of motivating factors you can draw from: greed, revenge, loyalty, skewed perception of righteousness. Whatever it is, they need to have at least one.
  • A good match for your protagonist. You need your bag guy to be a worthy opponent for your good guy. If it’s clear the villain is way weaker, then you’re going to have a hard time creating good conflict.
  • No monologues. This perhaps, more than anything villain related, drives me absolutely up the wall. To me it sounds absolutely ridiculous when a villain is just sitting there telling the main character everything about the plan and why they’re doing it. I get that it’s a plot device, and I know why people use it. But I think it should be avoided as much as possible.

 

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