Monday, November 10, 2014

Writing Bad Guys


Tom Hiddleston as Loki in The Avengers
"O villain, villain, smiling, damned villain!"  William Shakespeare (Hamlet, I, v, 106)

There's never a dull moment with a bad guy--or a bad girl.  Let's face it, creating fictional villains is just downright fun!  I, personally, hate confrontation, and the last thing I'd ever want to do is hurt some one's feelings.  Perhaps writing about a mean person is cathartic for me.  I've been told I do it well.  Not quite sure how to take that.  But whatever the case, it's rather exciting to write dialogue I'd actually never say, and write about nasty, villainous deeds I could never imagine being done in real life--until I see them reenacted on America's Most Wanted.      

Margaret Hamilton as The Wicked Witch
of the West in The Wizard of Oz
Villains break all the rules of decency and morality and don't care.  Lying/cheating/stealing is their MO, and political correctness doesn't exist in their world.  Heroes don't make derogatory comments regarding race or sex, but with a villain, why not?  Our heroes don't smoke, and if they drink, they're merely social drinkers.  Villainous women can be portrayed promiscuous to the point of nymphomania.  And a bad man isn't into real relationships, because he's too busy using and discarding women.
  
Our heroes can be flawed individuals who have overcome some of the same demons our villains don't see as demons.  Perhaps a hero is a recovering alcoholic, recently quit smoking and still struggles, or maybe was a womanizer at one time, but no more--since finding "the one."

As the hero is flawed, the villain must to be humanized.  Through back story, he or she must be seen as a person first, not a monster.  Otherwise, that character will just come off looking like a cartoon bad guy.  Reading bios of notorious criminals can help develop a believable villain.

Depending on the circumstances that molded this individual's psyche, the reading audience might feel a little sympathy (because his mother died when he was an infant, he lacked a mother's love), or make them hate him even more (because he was bitten by a dog as a child, one of his hobbies as an adult is running over dogs with his car).

How will you have fun creating your next villain, or making your current one even scarier?

Thanks for stopping by and have a great week!

6 comments:

shelly said...

Writing the bad guy is my favorite as well.

William Kendall said...

I like to give a villain as much depth as possible.

Norma Beishir said...

My favorite villains have always been those who, like Loki, have something in their pasts that have made them go bad.

Straight-out evil isn't interesting. It's just creepy.

Jennette Marie Powell said...

The best villains are those we sympathize with, if only a little. And yes, you do write great bad guys!

Maria McKenzie said...

Shelly: They're so much more exciting than nice people;).

William: Yes--that can make the reader feel a bit (sometimes a very small bit)of compassion for them.

@Norma: I agree, knowing why someone is "messed up" is important.

@Jennette: Thank you, Jennette! And I agree, the best bad guys are the ones we sympathize with! I still feel bad for Electrode, the villain in the last Spiderman movie:(.

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