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Creating multiple adversaries as well as henchmen will give you opportunities to show different facets of your villain. You can show how far power has corrupted your villain, depending whether he is uniformly unforgiving and cruel or has select blind spots. Get helpful feedback from other writers on how to improve your villain now.

Writing Tips for Creating a Complex Villain | Writing Forward

So how do you make a villain memorable and three-dimensional? Think about other details and mannerisms such as: Manner of walking or gait Small habits and tics such as repeatedly licking lips or cracking knuckles Stand-out physical features — what would someone use to identify your villain in a line-up, other than their eyes? Who is your favourite fictional villain of all time? Tell us in the comments.

Related Posts: Writing villain characters who feel human: 7 tips Creating villain motivations: Writing real adversaries Good character flaws: Create complex antagonists. In order to be considered a worthy opponent, you must portray your antagonist honestly.

One way to do this is to balance their inner darkness with their outer demeanour and behaviour. Think of Dolores Umbridge in Harry Potter. She wears pink cardigans and collects plates with kittens on them. This is a gentle, pleasing image. Her words seem reasonable and polite, but there is real threat in them. If she came across as a witch physically, there would be no surprises. The best villains in fiction have been short-changed.

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Make it real. At the same time, try to make it understandable. Imagine your villain as a shadow of the hero, a doppelganger. Think about when you created your protagonist. Most likely you created someone you admired, a character with strength and integrity. Why not give him opposite traits to your main character?

How to create a villain readers won’t forget: 6 tips

This will give you marked contrasts and opportunity for conflict. And just as with real life twins, give him similar characteristics to create a bond between the two. With a baddie, you can push the boundaries. In a novel, the villain often needs to look different. It can be a physical deformity that has impacted on their psychology.

For example, they may have a club foot. The trick is to be subtle. Think of Hannibal Lecter , a famous villain.

Writer's Digest Magazine

He is quite ordinary looking — except for those maroon eyes and metallic voice. Those touches are enough to make him spine —chilling when combined with his behaviour. Sometimes what can scare the socks off readers is realizing how an antagonist reminds them of something inside themselves. Your readers will react strongly if they can see even a sliver of themselves in the motives or actions of the bad guy. One way to create a believable antagonist is to mirror your protagonist's problems.

Draw out his human side and give him deep emotions and a mission that coincides with or opposes your main character's. Your hero and your villain will follow a similar path: there will be some triggering event in their lives that sets them off on their journey; they will experience successes and obstacles that affect their worldview; and both will be fighting to defend something that they truly believe in. Mirroring your characters allows you to show their similarities but highlight their differences. Your antagonist can help your main character learn and grow, strengthening his resolve.

Perhaps your protagonist lacks some important character trait at the beginning of your story. How can they can learn and grow through a mirror character who exudes that trait?

Writing Villains: Tips for Creating a Terrifying Antagonist

Give your antagonist some viewpoint time. When readers get to see through the eyes of the antagonist and how they believe in what they're doing—and more importantly, why they believe in it—you'll capture your readers' attention. Give your antagonist an origin story that evokes emotion in readers. Show us how she came to be the way she is.

Or better yet, make your reader see things from her perspective, even if just for a little while.

7 Deadly Rules For Creating A Villain

Pure evil has been done. Think of the serial killer who used to torture small animals when he was younger and now stalks prostitutes because his mother abandoned him. One caveat: certain horror or supernatural novels have pure evil beings the protagonist must conquer. A demon or a werewolf probably won't have human emotions. Don't take the chance readers will put your book down because of a wimpy or stereotypical antagonist who doesn't ring true. Start respecting your antagonist and give him some character traits that will give readers the shivers—because they see a little bit of themselves in the villain.

Kathy Edens is a blogger, a ghost writer, and content master who loves writing about anything and everything.