Welcome Wednesday – It’s Good to be Bad

Welcome Wednesday – It’s Good to be Bad

Welcome to this week’s edition of Welcome Wednesdays!

Villians/Antagonists are vital to any story – without a worthy foe, there’s nothing for our heroes to struggle against, after all.

So today, let’s talk about that a little.  In the comments, authors, tell us what makes a great villain.  What are the most important factors in creating a truly compelling bad guy (or girl!)?  And tell us how those factors shape one of the villains in your books.  As always, be sure to leave a link as well so we can learn more about you and your book!

I’ll begin…

I think one of the most important things in creating a really good villain is to give them a rational motivation.  Nobody just wakes up in the morning and says “I think I’ll be evil today.”  Everyone has motives that seem reasonable to them.  As authors, it’s up to us to show that.  One of my favorite fictional villains is Marc Remilliard in Julian May’s “Saga of Pliocene Exile.”  He comes close to wrecking a peaceful galactic civilization that’s lasted for thousands of years, he’s responsible for the death of several billion people, and yet when you look at what he’s trying to do, there’s a certain logic to his goals and even his methods.  Plus, he’s witty and charming.

In my own books, my favorite villain so far is Lydia, who appears in the fifth book of the Dream Series, WAKING DREAM (and she shows up, in a way, in a couple of later books, too).  She’s a mirrir-image of Sara, sharing her power but not her ideals.

WakingDreamV1 Cover Smaller

The book I was working on at the time was DREAM VACATION.  I lost my job in August, and I had the book released in October.  So there you go!


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9 Replies to “Welcome Wednesday – It’s Good to be Bad”

  1. I write mysteries, so one of my villain’s greatest pluses is to be able to hide his or her evil nature. I always find them challenging to write due to this need. My favorite villain, however, is one who was able to conceal the depth of his deravity even from me. And I write cozies. LOL

  2. Oooh villains! One of my favourite thing in the world.
    Villains have to be heroes in their version of the story to be believable, their actions must be for [i]something[/i] to be realistic. In a lot of books, mean girls or baddies just wanna be bad because the hero needs an antagonist – I like when they are realistic.
    I think my favourite villain is Vincent in Wordless, because he genuinely doesn’t see that what he does is wrong. He believes he’s just another guy doing his thing. From the reviews so far, everyone loves to hate him so his careless neglect hit the mark!

  3. I think sometimes you need villains who are just outwardly, obviously bad. While it may seem like a writing trope, as a reader there is some measure of comfort in knowing exactly who the bad guy is. It’s what I do in most of my fairy tale retellings. You know who the bad guy is from the very beginning. But not always. My last book surprised quite a few people when the “evil mastermind” was revealed. There’s something exciting in the hidden bad guy, as seen in most mysteries. One of my favorite villains so far is one who is hidden, so I can’t tell you who he/she is, but I think my readers are going to be very surprised when they find out…
    Thanks, James, for letting me share! http://www.JessicaLElliott.com

  4. In the first book in my series, the villain is Jacqueline, the ex-wife of the hero. She isn’t truly evil; she’s just motivated by money, and doesn’t really care about who she hurts in the process of getting more money. To me, there is something so vicious about a character who is ice-cold in the way she treats others. I wrote Jacqueline as an emotionless, cold, and calculating beauty that others refer to as “The Ice Queen.”

    Now, two years later, I still feel like Jacqueline has more of a story to tell. I’m writing the fourth book in the series with her as the heroine, and I’m exploring WHY she is so motivated by money.

  5. Competency. I love villains that seem almost insurmountable, someone who the author has shaped into a threat that I just can’t see the hero overcoming. Then I love it when the author throws the heroes up against that wall for a while, and lets them smash up against it ineffectually. Think about when Han shoots at Darth Vader in Empire Strikes Back when the trap in Cloud City was sprung. Did anyone think that was going to work? Vader certainly didn’t – he just sat back down to dinner – and everyone else gave up pretty quickly. At that point we should have known that Luke didn’t stand a chance (um, spoiler alert?).
    There are a few villain characters in They Mostly Come Out At Night, but my favourite is the most down to earth one. Jarleth has taken everything from Lonan – his father’s forge, his childhood love, the trust of everyone around him (including his mother) – and this has gone on for so long that Lonan has given up trying to right those wrongs. I loved writing the glee that Jarleth took in pushing Lonan further into the gutter.

  6. I like complex villains who are usually somebody’s mother. I don’t know why. My own mother is terribly sweet. She did tell me on Mother’s day, “My advice to you is to be mean to your children so that they appreciate you when you’re nice.”

  7. I don’t write many villains, not in my emotional romantic world, but I did do one … let’s call him a … ‘baddie’ in The Songbird and the Soldier. He was a playboy soldier who liked being one of the lads and popular.
    I think you need to have an understanding of why they do what they do, and in my case, it was out of a ‘dog in the manger’ feeling he had. He had something and didn’t want it, until someone else took it and then he felt stupid and did all that he could to get it back, even though he still didn’t want it really. (The woman) For my guy, it was rooted in his childhood pressures from a father who had failed and was taking it out on him.

  8. Fun topic to think about! I write contemporary romances that don’t usually feature villains:)

    Instead, romance often features antagonists who serve as foils for the hero. These characters are most interesting when they represent roads available but not taken, either by the hero himself or in the heroine’s love life choices.

    For example, in my first book, Stockholm Diaries, Caroline, the hero Niklas is a hockey player with a rough past. He’s a good guy at heart (of course!), but there are other hockey players, particularly one of his former Red Wings teammates, who stepped over the line that Niklas himself is afraid of.

    I think setting up villains/antagonists as foils is a great way to weave together a character’s internal and external struggles in the plot.

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