Happy New Year! I hope everyone celebrates responsibly. May the new year bring you many adventures and much good fortune.
To ring in the new year, I wanted to talk a little bit about my favorite type of character–the villain. Some of you might find my love of bad guys a bit odd, but I know a number of you who completely understand. It’s certainly not that I want to “change” them (Is that still even a stereotype? Girls who thnk they can change bad boys?). I’m just incredibly attracted to complex characters. A villain, done right, can be the most complex of all. Not to mention the fact that I’m drawn to the darker side of the human psyche when reading and writing.
So, what makes for a good bad guy? Well, in my humble opinion, one of the most important things is that he (or she) know he’s perceived as evil, but he doesn’t care because he feels he’s fighting for something right. Don’t get me wrong, a villain who’s a villain just because he likes doing bad things can be fun, but he won’t be memorable.
Think of your favorite bad guys! What were they fighting for? I bet the majority were fighting for something similar to the hero, not just the opposite. Voldemort, for example… On top of being an evil douche, he was fighting for the survival of his kind (purebloods), because he thought them the most worthy. Harry fought for the survival of his friends and everyone else, because everyone deserves to live. They’re fighting similar battles, but one is based on negativity and exclusion (with a bit of megalomaniacal world domination sprinkled in), while the other is based in positivity and inclusion (with a little revenge motive). It’s been a while since I read the books, so I’m probably missing a lot. Feel free to chime in.
I also really enjoy bad guys with some kind of psychological disorder. It doesn’t have to be explicitly stated, but I like it when I can pick up on symptoms and form a diagnosis. It’s not something that most people will notice, but for me, it gives extra depth to villains. I always try to know what is going on with my villains (all my characters really), so that I know their realistic responses to situations. So yes, I definitely suggest studying psychology at some point in your writing career (or any career, because psychology is fun).
I could keep going, but I think that’s enough about bad guys for one day. This month is going to be very busy, so I can’t promise I’ll get a post up on the fifteenth. If I can, I will be talking about the voices in my head, but if I can’t, I’ll be sure to talk about it February first! Until next time!