Antagonist forces are paramount to a story and while they can sometimes be represented by a theme, such as, prejudice or oppression. Or even an internal struggle, such as, mental health or limiting paradigms , they are usually represented in the form of a person.
So how do we stop this character from becoming a one-dimensional caricature representation?
The best tip for any writer learning their craft is to read, read a bit more, and then keep reading. Study how these villains have been created; what works, what doesn’t and what you in turn would do. Another great research tool, is to study villains in movies and TV shows. Remember, inspiration comes from many sources. For more tips on finding inspiration why not click the link and check out my previous post?
First of all, remember that every single character in your story believes they are the hero. Yes, even the bad ones.
Just as your protagonist has goals, hopes and dreams, so does the antagonist. To create conflict, the villain and hero will challenge each other, doing anything in their power to stop the other from gaining their goal, because it will usually block their own journey. Play on this, use it to your advantage, imagine the villain and hero are magnetised polar opposites, doing everything in their power to repel the other whilst being constantly bonded together.
Interconnect both of Goal-Conflict-Stakes journey for maximum effect.
Whether a person is good or bad they will have a set of core values. Keep them authentic by sticking to those rules.
Villains need positive traits, just as hero’s need negative traits, it’s what makes them appear human.
Allow readers to empathise with the villain, even if they disagree. Envisage their full story, their journey and ask:
• What or who do they love?
• What are their struggles?
• What happened to them to make them behave in such a way?
Don’t fall into the trap of creating a villain that’s a psychopath or has a borderline personality disorder. This is stereotyping and, in my opinion, does more harm by labelling people struggling with such disorders as evil or somehow less than others.
Show the reader that your antagonist wasn’t always bad. Perhaps personality faults, environmental circumstances or both drove them into the villain they are today. A three-dimensional villain is never cruel, manipulative and destructive just for effect, there’s a reason behind it, so allow the reader to explore this.
Describe your villain. Not only what their physical features are like, but show any ticks or traits they might have. What manner do they hold themselves in? What do they wear? Again, don’t be tempted to stereotype; not all villains need a scar, a limp, a black cloak or death mask. In real life they’re often undistinguishable, or perhaps even charismatic.
The villain and the hero mirror each other, through similarities but also through contrast. Thus the villain will expose certain truths about the hero, that they didn’t want to admit. And vice versa, whereas the villain won’t overcome this revelation, the hero will grow and evolve into the saviour. Thus being able to conquer all that was set out before them.
Do you have any tips on how to create believable villains? What do think of my very first Infographic?
Please share your thoughts, you know I love hearing from you.
Thanks for stopping by.
Until next time, Much Love.