Friday, January 13, 2012

CRAFT: Character Development Pt IV

Great post on Darth Vader here:

On Monday's post, Belle commented:
"I also think bad people changing is true in life and interesting in books. I will never forget the shock I felt when Darth Vader changed for the good in Star Wars. To see he had good feelings inside made his character more real."

Belle hit on a point that I absolutely LOVE: villains who have good traits.

"There's no villain so scary as one who is right." -- Donald Maass (THE FIRE IN FICTION, p.48)


Have you worked on making your villain (or antagonist) likeable?

Think about the villain in your WIP and ask these questions:
1. What goodness does he have inside of him?
2. What does he say that is true?
3. Is your villain redeemable, like Darth Vader? Why or why not?

How about you?
Who is your favorite villain?


  1. I wrote a post on this once about believable bad guys actually being very human. I worked as a deputy in a jail for a time and I was always a little shocked at how likable some of the most violent offenders could be.

  2. LG - YES! I had a friend who worked in a prison, and she said the same thing ... and she actually ended up getting involved with one of the inmates ... oops!

  3. I'm the same way--a big fan of the antihero who ultimately comes around. It's way more interesting than the person who never changes. Some heroes, however, simply can't be rehabbed. But it's cool if you've got one who can. Great questions. Have a fun weekend~ :o) <3

  4. Hi Margo, you have a fantastic blog here. Very informative and alive. I will be coming back to read often :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment on my ramblings. All the best, Elizabeth.

    As to villians being human; that's the scariest part. That means we are all capable :)

  5. Thanks for using my comment, Margo. One of my favorite villians is the Sheriff of Nottingham in Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves played by Alan Rickman. Along with his badness they made him humorous. "I'm going to cut your heart out with a...a spoon." They also showed a bit about why he was bad, which evoked sympathy.

  6. I like a villian who's torn, or multi layered. My favorite would be the Phantom of the Opera (Broadway version) - who was quite mad and had no qualms about killing people who got in his way, but in the end, set free the woman he loved.

  7. great point! I was thinking about Harry Potter, you kind of feel sorry for Voldemort in some ways becasue of his up bringing. Then there's Umbridge who everyone hates becasue she just IS evil. Love it!

  8. I have a hard time with villians who are over the top evil (like the villians in James Patterson's books). One of my favourite villians is Sue Sylvester from Glee because she is such a horrible person, but every once in awhile she does something that somewhat makes up for her behaviour. I agree with L.G. Smith, I spent a few months volunteering at a courthouse (back when I thought being lawyer would be better than writing for a living) and I dealt with people who would be consider dirt bags, but then you interact with them and some of them are likeable if you ignore the things they have done. It's like Darth Vader in the moment he saves his son the audience forgets/ignores that he killed people.

  9. I liked Darth better as just bad. :)

    However, in a book, I usually want more. I like the bad guy to have true motivation and a believable one. A few dollars is not a good enough reason to plot revenge for 15 years and then go killing people.

  10. No my villain isn't redeemable, because he's convinced that he's right to do what he does.

  11. I love that quote by Donald Maass--it's true!

  12. I've always believed a villain needed at least one good trait. Hmm. Favourite villain? Well that's a biggy. Maybe Rhett Butler, mwahahahaha.


  13. Very interesting, and of course the villains who are multi-dimensional are pretty damn interesting. Then again, there are villains who are just plain evil, like Sylar from HEROES, and those are kind of cool too. In a way I think that 'villains with a soft side' are becoming more cliche nowadays than the truly evil to the core ones. But the evil to the core ones still need to have layers...even if all the layers are bad. haha. They may have a reason for being so evil, but they're still truly evil at heart.

  14. These are some great questions. My favorite is definitely Benjamin Linus on Lost, though whether or not he's actually a villain is debatable. One of the very best characters ever created on television.

    Sarah Allen
    (my creative writing blog)