How To Create A Villain Your Reader Will Love To Hate

By on September 9, 2020

If you want to learn more about how to create a villain that your readers will delight in hating, you've come to the right place!

Creating a villain that hasn't been done to death is more challenging than you might think. Lots of villains end up seeming carbon copies of one another. Without considering how to make your villain genuinely unique, you could well end up putting your readers off as your villain is too run-of-the-mill or just another stereotype that doesn't keep them gripped in the way you'd hoped.

So how do you go about writing a villain that will interest readers and get agents and publishers sitting up and paying attention to your submission?

Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

Create a villain - how to make yours stand out

Create a genuine antagonist

An antagonist is a character who continuously gets in the way of your protagonist's end goal. However, an antagonist doesn't necessarily have to be evil; they don't even need to be aware that they cause so many problems and obstacles. What is important is that this character acts in perfect parallel to your hero. So the character arcs curve oppositely. If your hero suffers a blow or setback, your villain suffers a victory or progression. When your protagonist moves forward and has a stroke of luck, the opposite will be true for the protagonist. This makes for an interesting character because you end up rooting for them sometimes. They have human qualities and fates, and if their circumstances had changed, they could have ended up being the hero themselves. Give them particular charms. Give them admirable attributes such as wit, intelligence, passion, and so on. But simultaneously make sure that instead of overcoming their weaknesses or learning from them (as your hero would do), they are instead overwhelmed by them, and ultimately that will be their downfall.

Go for OTT insanity

Another excellent villain type is one who is just totally insane. Their motives are bonkers and dramatic and ill-placed; they are compulsive, impulsive, obsessive, and maniacal. The unpredictability of characters like these and their creative ways of exuding their wickedness make them irresistible to readers and will keep them turning those pages. 

Create empathy for the villain

Some villains are so devious, vicious, and exciting we can't help but love them. These types can become the stars of your novel. However, another route to go down is to create a villain who we can't help but feel sorry for. Give them motivations that readers will understand. Put them in circumstances that make their actions somewhat justifiable. Have them change and grow at the end of the novel, so they transform into something more likable by the time the story concludes.

Remember, it's all too easy to focus on your protagonist that we sometimes don't consider our villain well enough. We spend so much time getting to know our fictional heroes and understanding what makes them tick. The same should be true for our villains - get inside their heads, and learn what drives them to act the way they do.

By following the tips above, you'll feel assured that you have created a truly memorable bad guy - one that your readers will undoubtedly love to hate.

Now you've learned how to create a villain, why not discover more about whether your readers need to like your characters?

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