What Makes a Good Villain?

Here are the main points I gathered from the assigned podcast (found here: http://www.writingexcuses.com/2008/03/23/writing-excuses-episode-7-villains/)  on what makes a good villain:

A good villain:

  • is relateable/understandable
  • has flaws (it makes them more interesting)
  • Makes life tougher for the people in the story that we like
  • thinks he’s the hero of his own story
  • occasionally uses ends that justify the means (sometimes people like to read this kind of plot twist)
  • is logical

There are two types of villains: the understandable/everyman villain (ex: Gollum) and the superman villain who is all-powerfully evil (Ex: Sauron).  An all-powerfully evil villain is as evil as can be, and they’re kind of boring because they’re more of a static force of nature.  An everyman villian is much more interesting, because they have personality.  People can look at the villain, and understand why the villain is evil, whether or not they agree with the reasoning.  Good villains are smart, think things out, make sense, and are relateable to the readers.  



3 thoughts on “What Makes a Good Villain?

  1. Great post! Your podcast sounds much more interesting than mine was. I really like the idea of making a villain that is ‘good’. You totally have to be able to relate on some level with the villain otherwise you will be completely disengaged. Villains are so important to a story! Great post.

  2. Now that it’s been put into writing, the relatable ones are the most interesting villains – LOTR is easily one of my favorite films anyway, but not because Sauron is such a well-done bad guy.

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