Thursday, April 15, 2010

Tip for April 15, 2010; How to Make an Evil Villain, Part 2

It seems like the more I investigate about well-done evil villains, the more I find out, and the more questions I have. One thing I know for sure; it takes a lot of skill and determination to pull off a villain that is more than second-rate.

Sure, it's easy to make a so-so evil guy. Just follow some of the rules from my previous post, and it's fine. But to make an evil villain that is so chilling that it makes your hair stand on end... that takes a lot of work.

Here's a couple more things you can do;

One; Take a look at your favorite villains. Bartholomew Thorne, Paragor, etc. What makes them so terrible? Try to write a couple of short short stories with a character based on that person. Then, as you get a feel for it, try producing some of that evilness to the villain in a story. It just might help.

Two; The character's looks. I mean, if the villain is rather fat with baby blue eyes, it probably won't inspire fear in the reader. And if it inspires fear in the good guys, the reader will roll his or her eyes and think the good guy is a pushover. My own villain has what I describe as 'a cruel face'. But just because the character is evil doesn't mean it can't look innocent. One very well done villain is from Brian Jacques's Redwall book Salamandastron, Ferahgo the Assasin. He is rather innocent-looking and handsome, with sky-blue eyes. But what's so chilling is that when he smiles his dazzling smile, someone is going to die. Literally.

Three; The character's attitude. In the Redwall books, most of Brian Jacques villains are cowards pleading for their lives when they are defeated. But wouldn't it be truly chilling if the villain had a total lack of terror? Besides that, there are other attitudes; nastiness, cruelty, etc. It would probably help if the villain was particularly known for a certain trait, like cruelty.

These are some of the more minor things, but a villain mapped out to the utmost detail will be a villain indeed. Combined with the major stuff, the villain will definitely be a potent weapon.

One more thing; A fellow named Archer commented on my previous post with this question; "How do make it clear that the villain cannot be turned back to goodness?" [Since there should be both good and bad in a villain].

In a comment, I replied, "In my opinion, there's always a chance for redemption from evil, no matter how high up you are in the chain. Kearn in The Door Within Trilogy is a good example of an evil character turned good.

"But as for making it clear that the character WON'T be turned... Hm. You could have the main good character assume that he/she cannot be turned, but, of course, as you said, there is an option. You don't necessarily need for the character to recognize that there is a possibility of the villain being turned."

In this post, while I'm talking about villains, I'd thought I'd explore this question further. And the problem is, when making a villain, you must be excruciatingly precise. If you have too much good, then the reader will wonder if the villain can be turned. If there is too little, the villain will not have the desired 'human' effect. If you successfully balance the good and bad, then the villain will be memorably chilling.

It doesn't take a good author to make a villain. But it takes an excellent one to make a memorable, evil villain, one people will use when making posts such as these. :)

I just recieved Starlighter, Bryan Davis's new book, and I'm looking forward to reading it! I'll post a review once I'm done. From what I hear, it's sure to be a page turner, as usual. :)


Squeaks said...

Again, an awesome post! I'm currently trying to figure out where my evil villain is going to fit into my tale (the one with Galeron) and what he/she'll be like.

Thorne was definitely chilling. There were a few times when I thought, maybe he'll turn back for the good...maybe he'll see his wrong. But no...and in the end, I felt satisfied that he died the way he did. In fact, I haven't read many books when I feel satisfied about what happens to the villain, usually because they're not chilling enough.

The predicament I've run into is how far is too far with a villain. If you're writing...would you want Jesus to read it? Actually...better yet, would he write what you're writing? That's the problem I've come up against in Isle of Swords and Isle of Fire. The part with Thorne torturing Anne was just awful...the killing...details about the tools. Personally, I don't see how a human can come up with such ideas of torture for other humans. In some cases, sure it'll be okay, so long as you don't go into grafficness, but seriously...shearing facial skin???? I don't think so bud.

So yeah, this is something that I'm dealing with right now. Perhaps if you talked about how far is too far with might be helpful to someone :P (Particularly me lolz!)

Again, awesome job!!

God Bless!!


Isaac Permann said...

that is exactly what i am thinking, Squeaks. I have asked myself that same very question before; "would Jesus write this?"
Villains are some of the hardest people,(in my perspective) to write about. Good post Jake!

Jake said...

Thanks for the feedback. I think I'll need to write ANOTHER post on villains, lol. I still have a couple of topics (on villains) up my sleeve.

Isaac Permann said...

Oh and if you are ever looking for books to do reviews on check out...

The kingdom series: by Chuck Black

and also...

The knights of Arrethtrae: By Chuck Black.
I have read them and think they are really good... mostly the knights of Arrethrae. :)

Archer said...

I see what you mean Squeaks an Isaac (about if Jesus would write it). I think Jesus wouldn't ignore the seriesness of evil and how it would affect its suroundings. But that brings me to the question; how detailed should you get? Sure you to show just how evil this person is, but how much?