“Start writing, no matter what. The water does not flow until the faucet is turned on.”
—Louis L’Amour

Writing Villains: 9 Evil Examples of the Villain Archetype

You’ve been told your story needs conflict. You’ve been told that each scene needs to have tension. You might have even been told you need to be writing villains, memorable antagonists that can supercharge your plot.

Writing Villains

Photo by JD Hancock (Creative Commons). Adapted by The Write Practice.

But unless you’re writing a fantasy novel, you might not be sure how to do this. You associate villains with Darth Vader and Jafar from Alladin.

What do bad guys look like in realistic literature?

Writing Villains Using the Villain Archetype

The villain, like the fool, is a classic archetype seen in almost every story from Shakespeare to Disney to films like 27 Dresses. However, unlike the fool, the villain has no consistent character traits. They are a shadow version of the hero, and their personality morphs based on the strengths and weaknesses of the hero.

What this means is that whoever your main character is, the villain is somehow the opposite. To begin our exploration of the villain, let’s go through some examples in literature and film. Then, we will make some general observations based on our examples:

1. The Ring from The Lord of the Rings

Yes, Sauron is the big villain in Lord of the Rings, but it’s interesting to look at each villain individually as a Shadow form of one of the main characters.

Frodo’s shadow and villain is the ring. It is power hungry and malicious compared to his cheerful, relaxed self.

2. Gollum from The Lord of the Rings

With this idea of the shadow in mind, who corresponds to Gollum, who is something of a minor villain (but obviously central to the story)?

At first I thought Frodo’s shadow was Gollum, but then I realized Gollum is actually Sam’s shadow (at least in The Lord of the Rings). That’s why Sam has so much conflict with Gollum later in the story.

3. Saruman from The Lord of the Rings

Gandalf, who consistently avoids recognition, finds his shadow in Saruman, who craves it.

4. Sauron from The Lord of the Rings

And Sauron, in the end, finds his hero in Aragorn, the king who does not seek his own kingdom but is given it, almost against his will.

5. Tess from 27 Dresses

In Katherine Heigel’s romantic comedy, the villain wasn’t obvious to me until I thought about Jane, played by Heigel. As I considered her responsible, shy, honest personality, I thought, Who was the character most opposite? Her sister Tess, of course.

Interestingly, Jane “defeats” her villain not by winning her fight with Tess over the man of her dreams. No, instead she wins by actually become more like Tess (and Tess wins by becoming more like Jane).

6 and 7. Dmitri and Ivan from The Brothers Karamazov

While Dostoevsky’s classic novel has only one hero, Alyosha, it actually has two villains, each representing a different shadow side of Alyosha. They are Dmitri, who thinks with his gut, and Ivan, who thinks with his head. Alyosha, on the other hand, thinks with his heart. Together they form a kind of trinity of archetypes, the Jester, the Mastermind, and the Saint.

8. The Ocean from Finding Nemo

There is no singlular villainous character in Finding Nemo. Technically, Marlin the clown fish’s  antagonist is the entire ocean and all the obstacles in it. However, in reality the true villain is biggness. Out of fear, Marlin has become small, and his internal villain is anything resembling big.

9. Robert Cohn from The Sun Also Rises

Interestingly, the villain in Hemingway’s debut novel is actually the nicest guy in the novel, Robert Cohn. This is an interesting study because the seeming antagonist to Jake, the main character, is his own impotence which keeps him from the love of his life, Lady Brett Ashley. However, I would argue that Hemingway is more concerned with Jake’s moral impotence, and the only character who challenges Jake’s lack of morality is Cohn.

Can you think of any other examples?

General Observations About Writing Villains

After looking at those five examples, we can make some general observations about writing villains using villain archetype:

  • Villains are not necessarily evil. Instead, they are opposite.
  • There can sometimes be more than one villain per story.
  • However, there is always only one internal villain (Dostoevsky broke the rules by having two), whether it is fear, lust for power, or control.
  • This internal villain is projected onto a character or multiple characters.
  • Thus, the villain is a shadow form of the character, and often the way to defeat the villain is by making peace with it.

I think this also enables us to make an observation about conflict itself:

Good external conflict always comes first from internal conflict (you might need to tweet that).

So what are your characters conflicted about? What are their weaknesses, their regions needing growth? Who is their shadow? Once you discover who their shadow is, it’s as simple as giving them a name and setting them loose.

Who is your favorite villain from books or film? Let us know in the comments section.

PRACTICE

Describe two characters, your hero and your villain. Show how your villain is really a shadow version, an opposite, of your hero.

Practice this for fifteen minutes. When you’re finished, post your character descriptions in the comments.

And if you practice, make sure to comment on someone else’s practice with your feedback.

About Joe Bunting

Joe Bunting is a writer and entrepreneur. He is the author of the #1 Amazon Bestseller Let's Write a Short Story! and the co-founder of Story Cartel. You can follow him on Twitter (@joebunting).

  • This photo summarizes my family.

    I agree with the Robert Cohn assessment. He is a sharp contrast to the character of Jake. And to some degree, they both want the same thing, but go about it different ways.

    • Ha! Who represents hello kitty and who represents Darth Vader?

      Right. Great point, Jeremy.

  • •Villains are not necessarily evil. Instead, they are opposite.

    Great observation- I love this. It’s often hard to put an antagonist in anything but an evil light, but opposite may work better.

    • Thanks, Jeff. Yeah, in many cases they are just manifestations of yourself at your worst. Aren’t we all our worst enemy?

  • Joana Brazil

    Ok, please bear with me… English is not my first language! I’ve tried to create 2 characters. Which one you think is the villain and wich one is the hero?

    My name is John. And, even though people always assume that being humble means just being a “Regular Guy”, I have to say: I’m not regular. Not at all. But I am humble. Even though I’m really smart, I know there is people that are more than I am. And there is people who could be if they would only put on the effort. I have a passion about life. About being out in the world and taking chances. I never say no to a new challenge. And I’m a terrible loser. The thing is: I know that. So when I lose I just isolate myself so I won’t be mean to others. And I’m definitely, definitely, something special.

    My name is Mark and I’m just a guy. You see, I’m nothing more than that kinda weird dude sitting in the back of the room. Only people really close to me know what I’m really like. They say that I’m smart but I never talk or give my opinion. I’m humble that way, I don’t like to impose myself. I like safety and definitely don’t like people when they are showing off, thinking they are better than the rest. I’m not special, but I’m here.

    • Kinelta

      My guess would be that Mark is the villain. People that like safety and are uncomfortable with people who aren’t afraid of “new challenges” (like John) are the people who will try to impede those who want something, and want it enough to go after it. But then, Mark’s own net of safety could be a villain as well.

      Good job with the English, too.

      • Joana Brazil

        Thanks, guys! 🙂

        My hero is John, I guess. Because I’m always really, really terrified of change, I like characters who just put their face and see what they get in response.

        And also, I believe that if you have a flaw, you know it and you try to be better, than that’s not a flaw: that’s a quality in the making.

        I love when the dynamic: villain x hero is not that obvious! Great James x Snape comparison. Awesome!

        I’m just loving this site! 😉

    • Marianne

      I would say that John is the villain because he is proud relative to Mark’s humbleness, but then Mark isn’t getting things done like John is. Who is the villain Joana?

    • Nice, Joana. Who knows? It will depend on whose perspective you choose. In the end, both are the villain, both are the hero. You have to choose who you will make YOUR hero. Nicely done. I may change the post to reflect this observation after your excellent example.

      Another popular example, similar to yours, is Snape and James Potter. Snape looks like the villain, but he’s really as moral if not more so than James.

  • If it is not too far off topic, would you care to share some ideas about how to obscure the villain early in the story?

    • What do you mean obscure the villain early off? As in make them seem not like a villain so you don’t show your hand too early?

      • Exactly.

        • Well, I think the only time you will really be in danger of showing your villain too early is if your villain is comic, and by that I mean two-dimensional. Real people all have sympathetic qualities. One way to keep your villain from revealing himself or herself too early is to show their sympathetic qualities as well as their unsympathetic ones. In comic books, the villains have no sympathetic qualities. They are two-dimensional, and thus it’s immediately understood that they are the villain.

          However, I’m not sure it’s a bad thing to reveal your villain early. Shakespeare did. I think of the bastard Edmund in King Lear. He showed up in Scene 2! And was as comic as they get. Sure he had sympathetic qualities. His plight was pitiable. But he was still undoubtedly evil.

          • Thank you. This helps me focus my ideas and apply the Practice to my WIP. “His plight was pitiable” especially resonates – thanks, again!

  • Kinelta

    Jillian was taken to the detention center after she was picked up that morning from her house. Forcibly removed from her house by authorized thugs.

    What a mind assault. As a citizen she was used to saying what she thought. Secrecy was not something that had been bred-in-the-bone, and as she was taken away she could not help but hurl invectives at the men who arrested her. But she hurled them in her head this time.

    She was too excited by the morning’s events to be afraid yet. Anger–a righteous lot of it– was coursing through her veins. Here she was in a small, gray cell with only a cot anchored to the wall, an exposed toilet and a sink. She could stretch her arms out on either side and touch both painted cinder block walls. There was not even enough room to pace, and she needed to move, rather sit in her own boiling rage.

    The soldiers who arrested her hadn’t given her a reason why they were taking her away. She had been hustled into a waiting van, later shoved into this cell, and the door–a door, not bars– now locked her in.

    Jillian had an idea why she was here. Her captors did not have to give her a reason, and she wasn’t going to be charged with any crime, nor would she ever be tried. But she knew why, all the same. If truth would one day be recorded in the history books, she would be one of the nameless recorded and remembered as one of the people in the first wave of citizen arrests. And here she was now. Indefinitely.

    The next day a uniformed officer entered her cell.

    “James?” she said, surprise in her voice.

    The man before her smiled, spread his arms briefly in a gesture of welcome, and then sat down on the cot, leaving a space between the two of them. Jillian did not know what to say, but could only stare at him in dumb amazement. She had never met him in person before, had only maintained an online chat relationship. He had sent photographs of himself. That this was the same man was undeniable.

    The air was still and silent between them He did not seem to be in a hurry to speak.

    “Why am I here?” she asked, uncomfortable in the silence. “Why are you here?”

    “I’m in the military, and this is where I’ve been stationed.”

    “You said you were retired,” Jillian.

    James looked at her, his eyes hard. His head tilted to one side, and a smile that said she was naive and ignorant touched his lips. Jillian’s skin chilled at that cold, patronizing smile, and the flintiness of his eyes. Of the many ways that she had imagined one day meeting him, this was one that she had not considered. Nor had she imagined the disappointment of realizing that everything she knew about him was an elaborate lie. Well, no, she backtracked. Not elaborate. It was simple. And it wasn’t all a lie.

    He grinned at her then, as if he could fathom the workings of her mind.

    “Yes, Jill, you aren’t stupid at all.”

    But it took me until now to catch on, she wanted to say, and didn’t.

    “Smart, and a very easy target. I see it all coming together for you now,” he continued. “All I had to do was engage you in a casual message, and then chat, and now, here we are.”

    Jillian turned her face away from his, her eyes resting on the blank wall.

    “You were hard to pin down though,” she heard him go on, as if he had become a voice in a dream. “I couldn’t get you to commit to any position or get you to say anything that would flag you as a potential terrorist.” His hands clapped together between his knees, and the sound made her wince.

    “But I did get enough from you to tell your husband certain things you might not want him to hear…”

    • Marianne

      This is harder than it looks like. I think the villain here is secretive and the protagonist is outspoken, maybe too outspoken. Did her arrest her because he thinks she’s a rebel or a terrorist? I like the description of the cell and her wanting to pace. I get a clear picture of her. Thanks!

    • Kinelta, you’re quite good. I didn’t have time to read through all of it. I was only able to get through the first half, but it was beautifully written. Your world is so full, lifelike. Well done. For example, this simple description gives us so much of her situation, “She could stretch her arms out on either side and touch both painted cinder block walls.”

      And I especially liked this line, “If truth would one day be recorded in the history books, she would be one of the nameless….” Wonderful.

      Sorry I couldn’t get to much about the villain. Great job though!

  • Marianne

    “Red, let’s get the red pair,” said my grandmother. My mother raised one eyebrow, a gesture that I knew meant “red” was not good.
    
“May we see these in navy?” said my mother to the shoe salesman. We were in Rice’s and I just wanted to get the shoe buying over with, so that I could go and ride the see-saw in the playroom with my sister while my mother and grandmother shopped.

    “Let’s just see what the red ones look like on her,” said my grandmother and her eyes looked sad, big and brown like our dog Pee-Wee’s eyes looked when he wanted a little bit of my chicken a la king, a dish that I hated due to the pimentos in it, and that Pee-Wee knew he would get if he sat under the table near my chair. I would shove the food off the plate to the floor beneath me as quickly as I could to avoid being caught “wasting good food”, and beneath the table, were always his eyes, waiting pleading for me to hurry.

    “Red is very popular this year,” said the shoe salesman. He hustled away and I knew he would come back with both red and navy. I sighed, more shoes took longer to try on, and would delay getting to the see-saw. But then I saw the red shoes, and I was in love. The red shoes were what I wanted, the see-saw vanished from my mind.

    They were red and flat with pointed toes. They were shiny and they were soft. We called them trotters, because the brand name was Old Maine Trotters. They were the shoes we wore to church in the sixties with short thin white ankle socks. Some people had lacy socks but not our family. My mother didn’t like excess ornamentation, not in Christmas lights, and not in clothes.

    The man put the navy ones on my feet first using a shoe horn. Then he pushed on the toes to make sure they weren’t too small. I hated them. They weren’t red.

    “They’re perfect. They’ll go with everything,” said my mother in an odd but cheerful voice. It sounded like she was talking to everyone in the store. She didn’t look at me, or my grandmother, or the shoe salesman when she spoke, but out toward the showroom floor toward other people who were buying shoes. She smiled the way she did when her picture was taken, fakey.

    “Now let’s see the red ones on her,” said my grandmother and something in her voice was chilling. She was angry with my mother, but she was trying to be nice. They never argued, never. I was so intrigued that I barely felt the salesman put the red shoes on my feet. Once they were on, I looked down and said.

    “Pretty, oh, they’re so pretty Mama,” and I looked at her. She had brown eyes too but more of a yellowish golden brown. They looked at me like I was a stranger that she wanted to prick with a pin.

    “You don’t have anything to wear them with,” she said to me, and, to the salesman, she said, “We’ll take the navy ones.

    “Oh but they’re so pretty on her Anne. Every little girl should have some pretty shoes for the winter. Let her have them. They will look beautiful on Christmas,” said my grandmother with her eyes pleading again, and a pitying little smile on her lips. I wasn’t sure if she was sorry for me or Mama or both of us. Her voice was soft, and low, and gentle.

    “No, the navy ones will be fine,” said Mama, and she held some money out to the salesman.

    As he hurried off to the cash register, the argument between my mother and grandmother heated up. Mama’s voice got sharper and my grandmother’s voice got trembly and sad. She hugged me, my grandmother did, as she pleaded for me to get the shoes. My mother whispered or more like hissed that she would have to buy red shoes for all of my sisters if she bought them for me and that we couldn’t afford it. My grandmother perked up a bit and said that she would pay for them, and buy them for my sisters too. My mother tapped her foot and I was afraid for a minute that my grandmother might not understand how dangerous it was when Mama tapped her foot.

    “Now wouldn’t they look cute at Christmas, all three of them in their little red shoes. I can make dresses to go with them,” said my grandmother. She looked at my mother’s tapping foot and chuckled a little. It was tense.

    But we left without the shoes. I didn’t want to see-saw after that and my mother didn’t want to shop. We almost forgot my sister, and that would have been okay but I didn’t want her to cry so I reminded my mother that she was waiting at the playroom.

    We all went to lunch and picked at pimento cheese sandwiches. Mama had a whiskey sour and and my grandmother had a glass of sherry. Then we went home and took naps before dinner.

    For Christmas that year I got some red trotters and so did my sisters. They said, from Santa on the tag, but we knew they were from my grandmother because they were wrapped in red and white striped paper like all of her other gifts to us. They didn’t look as good amid my other Christmas presents as they had looked in the store but I wore them a lot that year. I remember looking at them when I was in church and thinking about what a kind grandmother I had.

    • You did a beautiful job with that simile of Pee-Wee’s eyes. Not only was it so vivid, the story engaging, but you tie it in to the story in such a simple, clever way. Well done.

      “My mother didn’t like excess ornamentation, not in Christmas lights, and not in clothes. ” Hmmm… is part of your memoir along with your “Blue Lights” story? If not, you might think about it.

      “Fakey.” What an excellent word to put us back in the child’s perspective.

      I only got through half of this. Sorry, busy day. But my guess is the mother is the villain, the grandmother the hero. Or at least that they’re opposites of each other. Beautifully told, Marianne.

      • Marianne

        Thanks Joe, sorry it’s so long. I got carried away, wanted to finish it. I know you’re busy.

        • No, it’s fine. Great actually. I’m glad you finished it! That’s the most important thing. And I’m so happy if this blog encourages you not just to practice but finish. Finishing is way more important that practice.

    • Emily

      “My mother tapped her foot and I was afraid for a minute that my grandmother might not understand how dangerous it was when Mama tapped her foot. ”

      i love this line.

      • Marianne

        Thanks Emily. I think most children know when their parents are getting angry, are attuned to their subtlest gestures. I appreciate your reading and commenting.

    • I just loved this story and the way you showed Mama’s tapping foot and Grandma’s gentle persistence. I think it is very well done.

  • I am sure your post is extremely helpful and insightful. But my brain got stuck on the pink Darth Vader with Hello Kitty on the side. I can’t unsee it! I don’t think I’ll be able to do any writing today because I keep seeing my villain in a pink Darth Vader helmet. *giggles like a crazy person*

    • *Sees Professor Snape wearing a pink darth vader helmet and mewing*

      • You are an evil, terrible, no good, very bad person! Which probably means you’re wearing a pink Darth Vader helmet as I type this.

    • Marianne

      I loves that photo!!! I want one to sit on my desk.

      • I know, right? I feel the need to google it to see if I could buy it as a birthday girt for myself or something

  • Re the villian… check out this quote by Henry Miller:

    “Over thirty years I had wandered, as if in a labyrinth. I had tasted every joy, every despair, but I had never known the meaning of peace. En route I had vanquished all my enemies one by one, but the greatest enemy of all I had not even recognized—myself.”

    The upshot of Miller’s search is positive, right? He becomes wise. So, the villain is anyone who pushes the protagonist toward that positive state of personal disillusionment. I’ve discovered that most conventional stories deliver the hero to this “death of self”. What happens next launches the story into Act III. The protagonist, as a wiser version of himself, knows how to take the story to its conclusion. What say ye?

    • Yes, that’s it exactly!

      I can only agree. Act III is often called “the integration,” because the hero has to learn something about himself and internalize that change in order to solve the conflict. Wonderfully put, PJ.

    • Marianne

      PJ – This interested me and I want to your blog. I like it a lot. I’ve never read blogs before and since being on this one, I’ve found two more that I like. I read the one about the whole in the middle of the story. It’s very cool. Thanks!!!

    • PJ Reece, thank you for taking the time to put this into words. It helped me complete the Practice, which fed directly into my WIP. Time well spent!

      I’m not going to post my Practice because I applied it to my synopsis and outline. But thanks again for the post, Joe. Great blog you have here!

  • Emily

    “You should do it,” he said. I didn’t look up from my wine.
    “Hmm,” I said. I turned his question back on him.
    “So, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
    “I’m doing it.” He smiled. I heard him sip his Scotch and it sounded smug. I felt his eyes on me. I wanted to slap his face. But, I couldn’t help smiling.
    “You want to be an in-demand, famous comedian and film star? Can’t you aim any higher? Slacker.” I looked up hoping he’d see the joke in my face. Sometimes when I say things they come out sharper than I intend. He was smiling back at me. He shook his head.
    “I want to have lingering conversations with a sexy novelist in a candle-lit cafe .” My stomach clutched delightfully but I ignored it.
    “Michael,” I said, “I am not a novelist. I am about 60,000 words away from being that. What I have wouldn’t even qualify me as a “nov”. I’m really more like a “nn”. I’ve only written-”
    “Three chapters, I know.” He reached across the table for my hand. My skin tingled from his touch. He looked into my eyes. Part of me wanted to look for the nearest exit. I had a job to do and a guy to moon over already. This night was just complicating things.
    “So you concede?”
    “Huh?” I said.
    “You don’t deny that you’re sexy?” His crayola blue eyes twinkled. I laughed and made a gesture like Vanna White, showing myself off like a prize on The Wheel.
    “Clearly, that is undeniable,” I said.

    • Emily

      My personal weakness is reading directions, I guess.

      But, my MC’s villain/Shadow is that she is afraid of change and of taking risks. She deflects compliments or encouragement with humor.

      • Marianne

        I see what you mean now. I liked this dialogue, but I couldn’t figure out who the villain was, and didn’t know how to comment. Thanks!

    • This is such great dialogue, Emily. So snappy, full of weird twists just like real dialogue. This felt real.

      So now you have to create a manifestation of her weakness. And with this kind of thing one idea would be to create someone who’s really insecure, maybe an agent or famous writer (since she’s a novelist), but is really mean, trying to thwart her.

  • Wow, this is a way of looking at the “villain” that I’ve never heard of/considered before.

    As for the Batman/Joker conflict, I think The Dark Knight is one of the few stories that manages to pull off the “he’s evil because…well…he’s fucking EVIL.” Some men just want to watch the world burn, indeed.

    In that vein, Batman wants order in Gotham while the Joker wants chaos. Batman is sanity and morality; the Joker is insanity and moral depravity. Batman wants peace, the Joker craves conflict….However, throughout the movie Batman starts to wonder if peace is what he really wants — or does he enjoy being the Batman? What does that say about him? Is he, somewhere deep down, just as insane as the Joker? Especially since his efforts to create order in the city only encourage misguided Batman-wannabe’s. I think the real conflict becomes: Is Batman the hero anymore? The movie resolves that, well, he’s kind of not. But that’s OK.

    • He’s just f###ing evil. Ha! Very true. Wonderful breakdown, Laura. I liked how you got into Batman’s head especially. Is he just as insane as Joker? Is he really a hero? No-ish.

      And what the villain as an archetype teaches us is that none of us are really the hero. We all have these dual sides. The key is, as Batman learns, to make peace with our darkness.

      • Reading this made me go back and watch Batman Begins (not as good as the Dark Knight but still good). And that’s exactly what he has to do, make peace with his own darkness…

        I like heroes that aren’t *really* heroes. They (to go with the Batman thing) have more freedom to make tough choices that a hero would never be able to do…because a hero has an image to maintain, I guess. Lol.

        • Thanks for bring up this “Batman” thing… I haven’t seen Dark Knight and now I must. Because I think we need to redefine the “hero”, and perhaps Batman can help us do that. I like what’s been written about him in these comments. Cheers.

        • That’s great, Laura. The most important part of the superhero story is always when everyone has the question, is this guy really a hero? And the stories that don’t ask that question are always pretty boring.

    • Liam Hay

      Finally! I have clung onto a single sentance in your post: Is he, somewhere deep down, just as insane as the Joker?. What makes Batman great is that he is crazy and so are his villains. No sane man would do the things he does. Well, I’d run around beating criminals up, but I wouldn’t drag a child into it or most of the other stuff he does.

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  • This post is long overdue.
    Please tell me if Lysa (a character below) can be considered as a villain. 🙂

    August woke to the howls of the northern wind. His muscles ached from the cold and his stomach was burning from hunger. He found his beard was covered with frost when he ran his hand through it. He groaned as he sat up. The fire he made last night was now just wisps of smoke. Beside the remains of the fire was his greatsword. He looked up and he saw Alyssa standing by the cave entrance. August slowly stood up and he walked towards his wife.

    “The storm seems worse now than the day before,” Lysa said without looking back at him.

    The outside world was an angry blur of white. They had been stuck inside the cave for two nights in a row now and it seemed they won’t be able to get out anytime soon, not until the snowstorm died down anyway. He laid an arm tenderly over Lysa’s shoulders.

    “We have no more food. Our water is nearly gone as well,” Lysa looked at August’s eyes. He saw fear in his wife’s olive green gaze. “Will we die here August? Inside this damp cave with no one to mourn us?”

    August felt a chill crawl down his spine. Death? Death because of the cold? Because of starvation and dehydration? The great August Bullhorns, hero of the brutal Dragonian war, dead because of a snowstorm? No! August hardened his gaze. He held his wife by the shoulders. “We will not die.” He said in a stern tone. “This storm will end. We will get back to Ludenheim and you will feel once again the warm embraces of Jon and little Beatrice.”

    Alyssa’s eyes slowly filled with tears. They slid down her face as she shook herself free from August’s hands. “We were told not to go by the Northern Pass. We were told to avoid it because of the snowstorms.” She said. August could hear a touch accusation mixed in her voice. “Why did we not follow the Elders? We should’ve gone through the town of Meriakim instead.”

    “It is forbidden for Bullhorns to go into Meriakim territory. It is forbidden for a good reason. Our clans are not in good terms with one another. What do you think they will do once they see us walking along in their town?” August said, though his voice had gone softer now.

    “You put more importance to the laws of your clan than the life of your wife,” Lysa said almost venomously. “Maybe they could have allowed us to pass. Maybe if you had offered them some gold they would have…”

    “They won’t Lysa,” August said. He fought hard to keep his voice calm. “I obey the laws for a reason! Their hate for our clan runs deeper than you think. The Northern Pass was the only logical choice.”

    “There’s nothing logical about death,” Lysa spat.

    August tried to hold his wife in an embrace but Alyssa walked away from him. August sighed. Suddenly, the aches in his muscles were more painful. He felt wearier. He looked at his wife walking away from him and the pain he felt was greater than any pain he had endured on the battlefield. Lysa just didn’t understand.

    “If only you stopped swinging your swords for a minute and started thinking more,” he heard Lysa say. “I blame myself for not forcing you to change your mind in taking this route. I should have forced you to try and be reasonable. I should’ve forced you to negotiate with the Meriakims.”

    “Negotiations between us will not go well. The clan…”

    “You do not know that!” Lysa shouted at him. “You say that talking won’t work, but what if it did? You’re so sure of yourself that you condemn us to this frozen hell.”

    “I will not go against the laws of our clan,” August said quietly. “I chose this route because I know we will be able to survive”

    Lysa did not reply. She turned her back on her husband and she lay on the ground. August stood by the cave’s entrance. He watched Lysa’s body curled up on the cold, stone floor. Outside, the wind continued to howl.

    • It seems like she is during this scene. However, I’d have to read the whole novel to know whether she is throughout the story. My guess is no on the novel as a whole, yes on this scene.

      • This is the only thing I have for this story ha ha but yeah, I guess if I were to expand this Lysa would not be a total villain.
        This leads me to a question:
        Is it possible then to not have a definitive villain in your story?

  • Mama and I were looking forward to a day of shopping and eating out to celebrate her acceptance to nursing school. It was a picture perfect early summer day and already we were giggling like two school girls playing hookey from school. Just as we picked up our purses to leave, Aunt Lou pulled into the driveway.

    Mama and I exchanged looks as she went to the door and she whispered, “Be nice.”

    I rolled my eyes then planted a smile on my face as Aunt Lou walked through the door. “Hey Aunt Lou. How are you doing?”

    You old biddy. Don’t you ever call before coming over?

    We gave each other a hug and exchanged a few more greetings while Mama ushered us towards the kitchen table for coffee.

    “It was such a pretty day, I wanted to get out of the house and see if your Mama would like to go to the garden center with me. I need to find some Azaleas for the front flower bed.” said Aunt Lou. “You should come too, since you’re already here. We’ll make a day of it.”

    I was passing by and saw your car in the driveway and just knew you two were going out for some fun. I want to go too.

    I bit my tongue as Mama spoke.

    Humpf. You saw my car in Mama’s driveway and wanted to know what we were up to. You don’t fool me.

    “Actually, Faye stopped by this morning to give me a hug in person—I got my acceptance letter for nursing school in the mail yesterday afternoon. I’m so excited! I can hardly believe it’s happening after all these years,” Mama said.

    That’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to be tricked into inviting you along on our outing you old biddy.

    Aunt Lou sat back further in her chair with a grin like a cat who has caught a bird and said to Mama, “Well isn’t that nice! I just found out I have leukemia.” Just like that. She looked straight at Mama, then at me, waiting for us to fall all over her.

    You’re too old to go to school. Who’s going to take care of me? That will be enough nursing for you; you don’t need to go to school.

    “Oh.my.God.” Mama and I said out loud together.

    Mama started to cry.

    Now I can’t go to school. I’ll have to take care of her.

    I went over to Mama and put my arm around her. “When did you find this out Aunt Lou? I didn’t even know you felt sick?”

    You old biddy. You just couldn’t wait to burst her happy bubble. You always do. You’ll do anything for attention.

    “I found out last week.” said Aunt Lou.

    Well, I did! Why aren’t you hugging me? I’m the one who is going to die.

    I went to the kitchen to get a wet cloth for Mama’s face, taking just a bit longer than was necessary.

    I’m trying to be nice, Mama. But, damn it! Aunt Lou gets meaner with every passing day. It’s not because she’s old. She’s always been mean.

    There would be no outing today.

    • I’m not sure what the italicized portions are. Are they internal monologue from the narrator?

      • They’re internal dialogue of the characters–saying one thing, thinking another. Did I do this wrong?

        • Oh ok. I see now. That makes sense. I like the experimentation! It is a bit confusing though. It might work better if you just showed it from one perspective, one character’s thoughts. It’s hard to get into the heads of all those different characters, especially when they’re unidentified. I really like the dialogue though. I like the comparison of the two pieces of news.

          I couldn’t tell who is the villian. It almost seems like they BOTH are! Good scene Jeannie 🙂

          • Jeannie

            Joe thanks for giving it a look. I obviously didn’t do well with this. I had seen this done with a short story by Rebecca Emin, “The Class of 1990” from her book “A Knowing Look” and was so intrigued I wanted to give it a try. Big FAIL!

            And Aunt Lou is the villain but if you had to ask I didn’t get the job done. Onward!

          • Of course, Jeannie. My pleasure.

            Nice. I think it’s great to imitate artists you admire. I picked up her book and took a look at the story. It’s pretty funny, the contrast of what the characters are thinking and saying. I like seeing the progression over the years. I think it would have been better in the hands of an omniscient narrator, though, rather than from four different 1st person narrators. I love that you tried it though!

            No I don’t think you failed in terms of villifying Aunt Lou. We just don’t get a big enough picture of her. It makes sense from the internal monologue that she’s not very nice, but that could be subjective, you know.

          • Jeannie

            Joe, you may not have the extra time for another look, but I did revise the story using an omniscient narrator as you suggested and tweaked a bit of the dialogue too. I wanted to complete it.

            Thank you for your advice!

            The Outing

            Faye and her mother, Sue, were looking forward to a day of shopping and eating out to celebrate her mom’s acceptance to nursing school. It was a picture perfect early summer day and already they were giggling like two school girls playing hookey from school. Just as they picked up their purses to leave, Aunt Lou pulled into the driveway.

            They exchanged looks as Sue went to the door and whispered, “Be nice.”

            Faye rolled her eyes planting a smile on her face as the unexpected visitor walked through the door. “Hey Aunt Lou. How are you doing?” You old biddy. Don’t you ever call before coming over?

            They gave each other a hug and exchanged a few more greetings while Sue ushered them towards the kitchen table for coffee.

            “It’s such a pretty day, I wanted to get out of the house and see if your Mama would like to go to the garden center with me. I need to find some Azaleas for the front flower bed.” said Aunt Lou. “You should come too, since you’re already here. We’ll make a day of it.” I was passing by and saw your car in the driveway and just knew you two were going out for some fun. I want to go too.

            Faye bit her tongue to keep from speaking. Humpf. You saw my car in Mama’s driveway and wanted to know what we were up to. You don’t fool me.

            “Actually,” Sue said, “Faye stopped by this morning to give me a hug in person—I got my acceptance letter for nursing school in the mail yesterday afternoon. I’m so excited! I can hardly believe it’s happening after all these years.” That’s all I’m saying because I’m not going to be tricked into inviting you along on our outing you old biddy.

            Aunt Lou sat back further in her chair with a grin like a cat who has caught a bird and said to Sue, “Well isn’t that nice!” She paused slightly then said, ”I just found out I have leukemia.” She looked straight at them both, waiting for them to fall all over her. Well, it’s not actually leukemia but, you’re too old to go to school! Who’s going to take care of me if I really do get leukemia or something else?

            “Oh.my.God.” Faye and Sue said out loud together.

            Sue started to cry. Now I can’t go to school. I’ll have to take care of her.

            Faye walked across to Sue’s chair and put her arm around her. “When did you find this out Aunt Lou? I didn’t even know you felt sick?” You old biddy. You just couldn’t wait to burst her happy bubble. You always do. You’ll do anything for attention.

            “The doctors ran some tests at my checkup last week.” said Aunt Lou, squirming in her chair. Well, they did! My red blood cell count is low and I need more iron. Why aren’t you hugging me? I’m the one who could get sick any day now.

            Faye went to the kitchen to get a wet cloth for her mother, taking just a bit longer than was necessary. I’m trying to be nice, Mama. But, damn it! Aunt Lou gets meaner with every passing day. It’s not because she’s old. She’s always been mean.

            There would be no outing today.

          • Hey Jeannie! Yes, I think it’s much clearer that Aunt Lou is the villain since you show us she’s actually lying. I think including the internal monologue into the same paragraph as the dialogue certainly makes it clearer which character is speaking. However, I’m still not sure I like it. Could be just me, though. You might try it again on another story and see how it works in a new perspective.

          • Jeannie

            Thanks Joe for taking a second look. I hear ya! I have a lot of learning to do yet. You’re great–thanks!!

  • After 15 minutes I discovered I had focused more on the villain than the contrast. but hopefullya few of the lines drew the differences.

    —————————

    She strode in superiorly, casting a glance so corrosive, she left puddles of people in her wake. The supposed plebe that had unctuously dared to approach her had mysteriously disappeared. In the blink of an eye the reception area was suddenly devoid of all life. Staff had scattered to respective offices, preparing for impending doom. She was Magaera gone mad and punishing any would be offenders to whom she took a disliking, guilty and innocent alike. We had all heard the stories. The head harpy was here and heads were about to roll!

    Terrified eyes peered nervously between slats as she bee lined her way to the Director’s office, Jimmy Choos echoing across the travertine tile. The Chairman wore a Chanel suit of scarlet, a matching silk scarf adorning her throat. It was easy to envision her slowly sliding it from her neck, and with ninja-like reflexes, then whipping it tightly around the neck of her unsuspecting victim. Her evil visage dressed in a satisfied smile as she slowly throttles, culling the little life left. The red suit would also conveniently hide any blood stains should she decide instead to whip out a letter opener and shove it deeply into the chest of her prey. She was no doubt adept at taking advantage of any would-be weapon at hand. Indeed, bodies, letter openers, and an assortment of office paraphernalia seemed to disappear forever with every visit.

    Yet, I dared to walk forward in her footsteps. Someone had to stand up to her.

    She turned on her heels toward me as she caught me tracing her footsteps. AndI stared straight into her cold black eyes, expecting at any moment to be instantly incinerated. But I stood my ground.

    She looked at me disdainfully with mild curiousity, delivering her venomous smile.

    “I never liked you,” she began, “not from the moment I met you. You never learned your place.”

    That was all she uttered as she swivelled dismissively. And in that moment, I knew that I was done for…

    • Great stuff, Shelley. You always seem like you have so much fun with your writing.

      For example, this line, “It was easy to envision her slowly sliding it from her neck, and with ninja-like reflexes, then whipping it tightly around the neck of her unsuspecting victim.” There’s so much whimsy in your writing. So much imagination. It’s great.

      “I knew I was done for, but wasn’t going out without a battle.” Nice! I love it when your hero gets to a place where they’re resigned to their fate and ready and willing to do anything.

      • Thank you! I have learned that laughing at the absurdity in every day situations can make life more bearable. This villain was an actual character from my past… with perchance just a teensy bit of embellishment – though my memory of her was actually much worse!

        I love these exercises, Joe… such great practice! So thankful for you.
        P.S. I did make a marginal effort to tone down the alliteration ; )

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  • zo-zo

    The cupcake had silver sprinkles. Never before had Annette seen a pink cupcake with such crisp edges and thick icing. She ran towards it, stretching her hand out and scooping it off the silver plate. She held it momentarily away from her, admiring it, and slowly, slowly brought it before her mouth. She smelt the sweet sugar, and opened her mouth.

    She didn’t even notice Jenna, but suddenly the cupcake had been snatched away and was safely guarded between Jenna’s hands.

    ‘You’re not allowed,’ Jenna said, her tiara twinkling.

    Annette had no words, she looked at Jenna, then her empty hands, and then Jenna.

    ‘I am!’ Annette said. She meant it to come out as a shout but it had turned into a whisper, towards the floor.

    Jenna cradled the cupcake like a baby and made a big show of lavishly laying it back onto the silver plate. She patted it a couple of times for safety and glared at Annette.

    ‘It’s my party and I said no!’ Jenna belted out. She fixed her tiara.

    Annette gazed at the cupcake longingly. ‘You can have a bite too,’ she said.

    Jenna scrunched her face up. ‘Eeu! I don’t want anything you’ve touched.’

    Annette walked towards the cupcake, and Jenna jumped in front of her, sticking her arms out. ‘I said no!’

    Annette stopped, and stared at her fingers. ‘You can eat yours first, then I’ll eat the rest.’

    The sound of Jenna’s stomping feet rumbled on the wooden floor. ‘Stop asking me! I’m going to tell on.’ She pounded towards the doorway to the lounge.

    Jenna’s mother ran in. ‘What’s going on here, girls?’

    Jenna threw herself on the floor and wailed. ‘Annete’s eating all my cupcakes!’

    • ChristaDelmar

      This brought back some vivid childhood memories for me… a villain is often the neighbourhood bully who comes dressed in friend’s clothing. I knew a few girls like Jenna and I’ve been the girl holding the cupcake. Such a clear word picture!

  • ChristaDelmar

    Chris sprinted across the field, the wind whistling in her ears. The joy at being out of the classroom was almost intoxicating. She spread her arms wide and ran even faster, almost tripping over her own feet in her haste to get to her friends. Her grin disappeared instantly when she saw Kim Pilkington standing with the crowd. Kim was beautiful in a dangerous way. She was one of “those” girls. Everyone knows those girls who always seem to get their own way, no matter how nasty and manipulative they are. She threw caustic comments and backhanded compliments like darts at anyone who dared to disagree with her. One glare from her narrowed eyes and your self esteem would shrink into nothingness. However, if you were lucky enough, she might shine her light of popularity in your direction and when she chose you, it was like receiving a blessing from the Queen. She was both revered and loathed, idolized and feared.
    Kim stalked towards Chris. Bright blue eyes sparked with determination and her breasts bounced dramatically with each step. Kim had been the first girl to start wearing a bra. The unveiling of this much desired item of clothing at Monday morning gym class caused an instantaneous fashion shift in the grade 5 class of Montgomery Elementary School. Elasticized control mechanisms started appearing, as if by magic, strapped tightly to the torsos of prepubescents who now walked with their chests pushed out, striving to display what just didn’t exist. Chris looked down briefly at the blue T-shirt covering her boyish chest. She suddenly realized she’d forgotten to even put on her 28 double A this morning. She watched Kim’s approach with fear and fascination. Chris knew why Kim was coming to talk to her and she wasn’t really prepared for the standoff.
    “Christina.” Kim spoke her name as a command and then punctuated the next part of her sentence with a reptilian smile. “I’ve noticed that you seem to like hanging out with Patricia.” Kim always referred to every girl by their full name. It was a different story when she spoke to the boys, however. Then she was all about nicknames and shortened versions. This seemed to add credence to her manipulation and a boy rarely finished a conversation with Kim where she didn’t walk away having extracted exactly what she needed from him while he was left feeling simultaneously used and elated. The girls, however, would never refer to Kim by her full name. That would have been frowned upon by the queen.
    “Yeah. What about it?” Chris had learned to keep her responses as short as possible when it came to talking with Kim. The less time you spent in her presence, the better.
    “I have decided that you will be my friend.” Kim smiled that snake-like smile again, this time showing the tips of her perfectly straight white teeth. “I don’t like you hanging out with Patricia. She’s …” Kim paused as if trying to find the exact word to describe this peon with whom she would not deign to associate. “…unsavoury.”
    “Unsavoury? She’s not a snack, Kim. She’s a human being.” Kim’s eyes narrowed at the rebuke. Chris had disagreed with her in the past, but never so boldly.
    “I’ve spoken to you about this before, Christina. Patricia is not like us. She never will be. Your friendship with her is based on pity and that will be your downfall. If you want to be popular, you need to be seen with me.”
    Chris looked at the ground and kicked at the dirt in front of her. She liked Pat, but what Kim said was partly true. Pat didn’t have many friends. Whenever Chris hung out with her, they often played alone. But right now, Pat was waiting for her at the end of the field with a freshly pumped soccer ball and Chris was aching to work off some of the pent up energy that had built up during Mr. Bedford’s boring math class. Kim was wasting precious recess time.
    “Now, I understand that you feel sorry for her, and I’m okay with that.” Kim’s tone softened but didn’t lose its steel edge. “So I have devised a plan. You may hang out with Patricia on Tuesdays and Thursdays for one recess break. The rest of the week, you may hang out with me.” Kim spoke triumphantly and with authority as if she had just brought a new law into legislation.
    Chris’s head snapped up. Seriously? Kim was seriously going to dictate which days she could hang out with people? After years of bowing to Kim’s dictatorial rule, Chris had had enough.
    “Or, I could be friends with whomever I choose, Kimberley.” Kim’s mouth fell open and her cheeks flushed a deep red at Chris’s unauthorized use of her full name.
    “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have a soccer game waiting.”

    • zo-zo

      What GREAT characterisation – I really hate Kimberly! – and some beautiful lines… Love it!

    • Cassandra McCarthy

      You should publish that. It looks professional! Great story starter. I am 13 myself and I love writing fan fictions. I’ve never seen anything like your writing. It looks marvelous.

    • Christine

      You’ve done a great job of writing this, but the dialog doesn’t sound like Grade 5 girls to me. I may be off base, but the vocabulary and phrasing seem more like Grade 10. Would a Grade 5 think in terms like “snake-like smile”?

      Especially Kim sounds like high-school-girl crossed with soap-opera-diva. All nasty, arrogant and phony — why would anyone want to hang out with her? IMO, if you write more about her, give her a few half-ways decent manners.

    • LilianGardner

      A well told story of how a classmate stands up to a concieted bully.

  • Yalí Noriega

    Hero: small girl who has lived on the streets for as long as she can remember. She has no family, no name and no friends. She made a refuge in an abandoned fair, locked in a traffick island.

    Villain: the villain, I think, would be actually her abandonment, her sense of not belonging anywhere and having no one to turn to. Her surroundings are hostile, as the other children persecute her and the adults both pity and turn their backs on her.

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  • I found this because there’s a band I listen to named Ivan & Alyosha. I’m delighted to find the literary reference! I’ve never read Dostoevsky, but I will someday.

  • wakamotorcycle

    In the car Alexander sighed as he drove back to his home. Once again he had ended in failure.
    “Another day of failure huh?”
    Next to Alexander was a man in the black military uniform. He always shows up uninvited out of nowhere.
    “Please just shut up. I had a rough day”
    “Oh? Telling me to shut up? You should know by now I’m always here when you’re at your lowest.”
    “I don’t get how you can just continue this without any feeling of guilt”
    “Well, I do want your body of yours. And I do need to make you give up hope for it. Oh boy, by know I thought you will know I would do anything to get what I want”
    “What an egoistic bastard”
    “So we came down to insulting each other eh? Well too bad I can destroy you on this. Let’s see…oh yeah. You’re an coward with no self confidence what-so-ever that always screw up on his job-”
    “Your interference makes me screw up”
    “-cannot stand up for himself, you are in denial, your wife left yo-”
    “Keep Beth out of this!”
    “and to top all this I can probably do anything better than you. It’s like you’re the failure and I’m the complete set”
    Alexander fell silent in defeat while the man smile in delight.
    “Now, what should we do next to make you feel miserable?”

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  • JohnnyFall

    Some really good examples here. My only issue here(and I’m not saying it’s bad) is that you seemingly equate “Villain” with “antagonist,” which doesn’t account for heroic antagonists, such as Lobelle in The Day of the Jackal, or any investigator opposing the very villainous protagonist, Light, in Death Note. Of course, when you’re saying a villain is “opposite” of the protagonist, then by that logic, your definition does make sense. I guess I just feel like a villain being defined as someone actively evil(or at least having a negative effect on the characters the author wants you to sympathize with) is a more useful definition, as it frees up “antagonist” to mean *anyone* opposing the protagonist, regardless of their moral character, while “villain,” for me, signifies that they’re a force of bad things happening that you aren’t meant to *want* to happen. I’m not completely sure I’ve worded this well, but in short, the two words seem very useful when differentiated from one another, particularly from a writer’s perspective. Maybe I’m overthinking it, or misinterpreting something here.

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  • northierthanthou.com

    Hm… internal villainy is an interesting concept. Didn’t have a phrase for it before.

  • Gerri Lynn Baxter

    I understand what you’re trying to do, trying to look at a complex issue with more familiar names, but I think you’re conflating villain with shadow archetypes, and worse, conflating villain with theme.

    Where did you get this definition of a Villain archetype? I’ve never seen this particular definition, and I don’t like it at all. Sometimes the villain will be an inverse of the hero, but that’s not the same as a shadow self. A Shadow archetype is about someone who represents all those things repressed by the character in question (doesn’t have to be protagonist). But that shadow self doesn’t have to be a villain.

    A villain is a blocking character, rarely with redeeming qualities, that may or may not be a shadow self, but definitely doesn’t have to be. Villans have defining characteristics, such as domination, malice, prejudice, “evil” (whatever that is), control, and treachery, among others. These traits can be that reflection a la shadow self, but it definitely doesn’t need to be.

    The way you’ve got your archetype defined conflates shadow and villain archetypes, and not to the benefit of those who are reading. We’re not dealing with a p = q situation. These two archetypes can exist separately from each other. I once foisted a cheerful, perky, helpful, always on assistant off on a grumpy, mopey, snarly forensic doctor. Shadow archetype, yes. Villain, nope.

    In _27 Dresses_, I would definitely agree that Jane and Tess are in a shadow self situation. But from what you said, there’s no defeat, as in one winning out over the other. Instead, they both grew, took on new traits, and solved part of that reflection issue. That’s not a case of a hero-villain story. That’s a protagonist-antagonist set-up.

    Again, it’s the shadow self archetype, not the villain archetype, in _The Sun Also Rises_. You can have blocking characters that aren’t villains. You can have the hero be the antagonist, and the villain be the protagonist, easy enough. Think _Talented Mr. Ripley_.

    But antagonists can be the heroes. What is the villain story, but a hero in his own right, and the “bad guys” trying to stop him? It’s all about goals.

    But with _Finding Nemo_, we’re no longer talking about antagonists. We’re talking about theme. Marlin’s fear of the ocean is his thematic through-line. It’s his journey, his character growth. It’s the message that carries through, that he can stop being afraid of being a small fish in a really big ocean. How he faces that, how he deals with that, that’s the plot.

    Here’s the narrative issue: heroes need to defeat villains, or villains need to defeat heroes for narratives to be satisfying to an audience. Protagonists do not need to defeat antagonists in order for narratives to be satisfying to an audience.

    If you haven’t explored the Dramatica model of character, esp. antagonist/protagonist/contagonist, and how they use blocking characters, thematic through-lines, and other such fun things, I suggest you check them out. The software has a steep learning curve, but their method works, and works well. http://dramatica.com/

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  • Pedro Hernandez

    I’m having a little problem, I am trying to create a story where the readers see the main character as kind of villain-ish guy, while making the villain the complete opposite, but keeping characters in their respectful spots
    the world is post-apocalyptic

    for example the main character has no sympathy or compassion, is a intelligent opponent and has excellent survival skills, but cannot forget his hatred for other humans who caused him harm or did not come to his rescue.
    oh and I really like this villain archetype thing, helped me a whole lot in writing,
    thanks!

    • Pedro… I think anything goes, as long as you make sure that your main character experiences some degree (however small) of an ESCAPE from his narcissism. The plot has to pound the daylights out of him, so that he is willing to surrender some part of his self-centred life. Do that and Bob’s your uncle.

      • Pedro Hernandez

        Thanks pj!!!!

  • Tiffany Leong

    Maria boarded the train. Standing directly across her was Clara. Maria wondered how could Clara breathe properly as she was surrounded by a huge mass of people. Maria could only tell Clara was there by her loud voice that boomed across the room.
    Maria shrugged her shoulders. She always felt lonely when Clara was around. Always surrounded by people who adored every part of her. Always able to say what’s on her mind. Most of all, Clara, unlike her, was never alone. The emptiness made Maria sigh. Sometimes, she loved being alone, but sometimes all she could think about was having some company.
    She decided to do something she had never done before. She joined the crowd. She walked over as silently as possible. She stood almost half a meter away from the crowd when someone spoke.
    “What do you think you’re doing, weirdo?” said the girl closest to her. The girl nudged her friend on her left by the shoulder and the friend started to laugh. Soon, they were all laughing. Laughing at her. The loudest of all was Clara. Resting against the side of the trade, holding her sides.
    They continued to point and laugh at Maria backed away, wondering what she was thinking of in the first place. When she was back against the wall, she looked up at the notice board. She was still five stations away. She’d have to endure five stations worth of this. She didn’t think she could take it. So, she left the train at the next station.
    When the train left her, she felt tears streaming down her face. Why did she have to be so fragile?
    When the next train came, she wiped her tears and boarded the train, trying not to think about what she just did.

  • a random guy

    I’m making a murder mystery where the detective/protagonist is a man called Johnny Peterson and the murderer/antagonist is Mark Garcia. Johnny and Mark used to be best friends at drama school and they still have a lot in common. They both hate the victims, they both get angry easily and they both still like each other (until Mark tries to kill Johnny and all the other suspects by burning down a building with them in it.). Even with the building burning down Mark tries to save Johnny in return for Johnny never telling anyone that Mark s the murderer. In the end Mark is kicked into his own fire and killed.
    Any advice on how to make Mark seem nicer and Johnny meaner?

    • Pedro Hernandez

      Hmm… You could have things that the readers can relate to Mark, but make Johnny a more “distant” character.
      (ex. Maybe we get to see Mark being very conflicted about trying to kill Johnny, having emotions we can relate to.)

      We can have Johnny be the more “evil guy”, paint his actions in the eyes of Mark, who sees Johnny as the immoral bad guy, a traitor. But in reality maybe Johnny is as conflicted as mark, but is more persistent, and makes choices that go against his personal beliefs, doing his job instead of doing what he feels is right.

      I hope I helped you a bit with your story, fellow writer. May the pen be ever in your favor.

  • Max Overlord

    Max Overlord. She seems shallow, annoying, and like she doesn’t care about the job she was dragged into. But Max does care. She’s just afraid to show who she really is. Oh, sure, Max can be annoying, and frequently insults enemies -and friends- alike, but she also smart, kind, and… Well… A hero. But being a ‘street rat’ for most of her life has taught her never to trust anyone. So though she’s loyal, every time someone betrays her, which has happened too many times to count, her trust crumbles more and more. It was only a single brick when the worst came true; her best friend…. Became her worst enemy.

    Doc is handsome. He’s smart. He’s strong, and fought right beside Max for years. They were best friends. She told him EVERYTHING, from her worst fears to the jerk at the store. He liked and protected her. She liked and protected him in return. Doc never said the wrong thing, never hurt her feelings. He was too good at lying. Doc seems responsible. He’s the leader type. But really, he’s just a little kid trapped in a big world, like Max. That’s why they gravitated towards each other. But it all changed one day. He’d planned the whole thing. Symbiote, a black, ugly substance, took Doc over without Max ever knowing. He did it perfectly. Gathered all the information he could about her. Strengths, weaknesses, fears and tears. Then, when Max wa weakest, he struck. A bullet. Doc didn’t want it. Neither did Max. But she thought it was her best friend. And it broke he

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  • KessRai

    Blake sat with the horse, petting its sharp dun features. Up behind him came a voice: “You haven’t got any reason to like that one. He has a bad hoof – the farriers say there isn’t much to be done about it.” Blake turned to look over his shoulder, but what he saw sent a jolt through his chest, his blue eyes widening. This was a prince: This was Tarrow, son of the king Blake and his older brothers were aiming to overthrow. They always knew they’d be buying horses from the king’s favorite stables – after all, it isn’t suspicious to need horses for three brothers. The others had already gotten their own from various stables.
    “Er…” Blake stammered, touching the horse. “I didn’t realize I’d be meeting the Prince. I… I like him…”
    “Really-? If-”
    “He’s injured, Blake.” This was the eldest brother walking up, Niilo. “Pick out something else.”
    “But what if I don’t take him?” Blake looked taken aback, his black hair falling into his pale eyes.
    “We should need to send him away,” Tarrow told him, wandering over next to the younger man to examine the horse. “I suppose he won’t ever ride as hard as the army needs him to. You would probably do well with him, as long as you ride light.”
    “Yeah.” Niilo sounded surprisingly offhanded. “What about that one over there – the black paint?”
    “He has blue eyes, though,” Blake observed as the dun gelding nosed him. “I like him…”
    “Blake, if he goes down, it’ll only hurt y-”
    “I like your brother,” Tarrow broke in. “He seems nicer than most. Kinder.” He tilted his head toward the shorter boy with the horse.
    “Blake needs to use the horse he gets though,” Niilo said sharply, turning to square up to the other. “And you said the horse’s hoof wouldn’t heal, lord. I don’t want Blake getting hurt.”
    “Blake seems like he’s capable of making his own decisions.” Tarrow shot back quietly. He seemed calm, brushing back his dark brown hair. “You should let him.” His voice flared a bit.
    “And I have to take care of him.” Niilo turned to Blake. “And again – what do you think about the paint?”
    Blake hesitated. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing – and he didn’t think he’d ever think that Tarrow would remind him so much of his brother Niilo. He seemed as capable of looking after a younger brother as his own older one.
    “The horse is yours. Free.” Tarrow looked at Blake. He then shot something of a wry look at Niilo, who was visibly fuming at the fact that Blake now possessed an imperfect horse, free, with the good wishes of a man he’d later kill – he almost looked as if he’d like to throttle the prince then and there, if not for the fact that the stable was not empty.

    Ehh… I don’t feel like I captured the relationships between Blake and the other two here. I think it’s simply too disconnected as this is an actual book in planning – this is a little bit of a warm-up to figure out the characters.

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  • King of Diamonds

    James took a look into the crowd of people and saw that Seymour was still there, leaning forwards hungrily. When did he ever leave?
    Sometimes James wanted some kind of typical society. Where he’d be the one that people would look to, the blond-haired-blue-eyed one who consistently won in sports. Where bookish pedant Seymour could go crawl away and read encyclopedias.
    Did he have to have an attitude? Did he always have to be right? Everything James said, Seymour had to pop up, people’s heads swiveling to see what he had to say, to contradict James. Make James the idiot, the dumb blond. And then the heads would begin to nod, and everyone else would follow like sheep, pressing Seymour’s point like the wound wasn’t big enough already. And Seymour would go, because his job, to be right, would be finished.
    Before Seymour had come, he was the wordy one. The one with the smart comment. The one who wouldn’t shut up if he knew he was going to win an argument. The one with a stinging barb ready on his tongue.
    But it seemed that ever since Seymour had come, the comments, the baiting, the power of words dried up in his mouth.
    And he felt that now, with a crowd of people. Seymour had just played his trump card. It stung worse than usual, and James found only a few words.
    “You’re right,” He said.
    Seymour, for the first time ever, he smiled. “Well played, James.”The smile was genuine. And so was the handshake that followed.
    Then James said, “So, what should be argue about now?”
    “Nah, we can decide next time,” Seymour, all limbs and horn-rimmed glasses, takes a seat next to the athletic boy, two worlds seeming out of place. They both look up as the next two people begin the next debate.

    • ClockworkKnight

      I’m definitely a Seymour. I love being right.

  • raji

    Wow! I love it..

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  • I got this character since years ago, someday I will developed complete to share his adventures.

    Meet Tiago, he is a survivor. With no mother or father, since his childhood he had to find a way to survive. Soon, he learned to still food, money and to manipulate people. He grown up as a selfish man trying to become rich in the easy way.

    Meet Samuel, he is a fighter. He used to fight in the fields and now he fights in offices and international meeting. Before and now was for the same reason: his city. A former soldier who now is a the Mayor of Lamasama, a peaceful and progressive city where everybody have a second chance. And he is working hard to keeping it in that way.

    They are very opposite and what I like about my main story is that Samuel is the villain and Tiago is the hero!

  • DizzyJade

    I’ve been thinking this entire post: what if the main character is the villain?

    Some people like to write from a villain’s point of view, but the actual villain of the story would be the hero. So would the hero be the enlightened version of the villain, in a way that makes the him/her seem evil?

    I tried working this further by reading one of my favorite novels, which happens to be written by a villain’s point of view. I found that, even as the main villain is the main character, there was another villain in the story, which did seem more evil than the original villain/main character. I decided that, in all, there is no such thing as writing from a villain’s point of view and not having another villain, whether the second villain is the hero or not.

  • Annika Smith

    My work in progress has two main characters, twins, who serve as protagonists in their own point of views but as antagonists to each other.
    The first is Mara. At the beginning of the story, she is concerned about others and this shows by her continual attempts to talk to loners at school and her concern when talking with her best friend about his family problems. However, she has a destiny that she will end up murdering someone, so she is shunned by all but her one friend. Despite this she is hopeful that she will beat her destiny, which is her goal
    Her twin brother and antagonist is Ace. His destiny is precisely the opposite of hers: he will save at least one life. Instead of being shunned, he is Mr. Popularity. Also, he’s much more self-centered than Mara is and really only counts people as his friends if they adore him. His goal is to fulfill his destiny because of the glory it brings him, so another contrast to Mara.
    At the end of the story, Mara has undergone a negative change arc, and ends up nigh entirely self-absorbed, cruel, hateful, and bitter. She has given up on her initial goal of defeating her destiny and instead is just about embracing it. She doesn’t take any blame for her own actions.
    Ace undergoes a positive change arc. He learns humility and selflessness, and fulfilling his destiny is no longer the primary objective – doing the right thing is. He learns to accept responsibility for his actions.
    I loved this post! It makes me redefine villains and heroes, or as I prefer to call them, protagonists and antagonists, since it’s all really a point of view. xD

  • Gary G Little

    For me, it has to be Maleficent, and she is the best of both worlds. The violist of villains in Sleeping Beauty, and then the queen of good in the her own story. Hey, I may be a curmudgeon but I do like a good story, animated or not.

    My villain: Jack Dunslo, pirate, slave trader, and all around professional bad guy.

    My hero: good question. It could be Harvey James, Executive office and second in command, or it could be the entire ship, Stellar Trader Edinburgh.

    That may be the problem with the story. I really have not fleshed out either a hero or a villain.

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  • SkittleE

    Alaric, intelligent, cunning, manipulative, and powerful. He grew up in a small French village in the 1600’s, where he was used to his vampire mother terrorizing the village, and giving him everything he wanted. When he was turned himself, he decided the whole world should do the same, and so effectively enslaved humanity and turned them into livestock in the early 21st century. A thousand years later, and his complete control has never been challenged – at least, by anybody who has continued to live afterward. His control over the population can largely be contributed to literally putting something in the water to increase rate of mental illness among the humans, and bribing the ones who are turned into vampires with the medication necessary to give them a clear head for the first time in their lives. In addition, despite his genuinely kind appearance (complete with dead anime mom side ponytail) and demeanor, he is terrifying and powerful, with a presence that commands a room.

    And now our five protagonists. Gregor Belrose, an old blacksmith who distributed weapons on the black market for a living. He managed to escape when he and his wife were brought in to the slaugherhouse, and has been living in the outskirts of City 1 for a year. Due to heavy abuse as a child, he consistently denies his emotions, and refuses to acknowledge the PTSD he suffers from. Also, because of his experiences with vampires, he thinks of them as completely separate from humans, with thoughts and motivations he could never hope to understand.

    Anna Belrose, Gregor’s daughter, and a paranoid schizophrenic. After her father’s disappearance, she was forced to become a cop (an incredibly dangerous job, as it has them patrolling close to the city limits and picked off by vampires) to make enough money to afford her medication, because of which she is proficient in hand-to-hand combat and is incredibly physically fit. She was rescued right before being killed while on patrol, but now has no access to more meds, and has to pick and choose when to take her remaining pills. As such, she has a difficult time distinguishing reality from illusion, and this puts heavy strain on her mind. Even without the effects of schizophrenia (some of which involve the person being unable to feel emotion), she is emotionally stunted because of her father’s denial of emotions, and has difficulty properly recognizing and expressing emotion. She is all too aware of this, and resents her father because of it.

    Rigby (forgotten last name, goes by her middle name, first name is actually Natalie), a one thousand and sixty four year old woman, who was changed into a vampire at age fourteen and is condemned to look like a child for the rest of her life. She lived through the apocalypse, and has dedicated herself to watching and waiting for the right opportunity to topple the government and free humanity. She’s been living in near complete isolation for the past thousand and fifty years, on the outskirts of City 1. She wants to be recognized as an adult, but at the same time acts childish because she knows she can get away with it. She has chronic depression, PTSD, and intermittent explosive disorder (anger issues).

    Stephen, a vampire of indeterminable age, unreasonable height (6’8″), and head of surveillance for the government of City 1. He was also Rigby’s companion during the apocalypse, and is working to free humanity as well. Due to deserting the vampires during the apocalypse, he’s had to submit to Alaric in some pretty horrifying ways to work his way back up the ranks and be trusted. He has insomnia and anxiety, the latter of which is triggered by claustrophobic places and Alaric. As he has to work underground and interact with Alaric frequently, he’s forgotten what it feels like not to be completely stressed out. An important note, he was a (failed) brainwashing experiment back before the takeover of the world, and has completely forgotten being human and early years of being a vampire because of it.

    Andreas Merlo, genius IQ, competent doctor, and idiot 17 year old kid. He’s a new resident of the outskirts, and hates the very violent methods they need to use to stay alive. He’s constantly angry with Rigby and Stephen because of their tendency to be unnecessarily cruel when killing vampires, but because of his pacifist tendencies and good nature he lacks what it takes to do the bad (but necessary) things. By far the sanest of the group, he has no real mental illnesses to speak of besides a brief situational depression that came about after his grandmother died. (He also has a big crush on Anna and it’s absolutely adorable.)

    Whew, even though I kept it as short as I could (and even left out a lot of important stuff), that was still insanely long, and took forever to type up. It’s a big story.

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  • Lightenupmyday

    But what if you can’t imagine your antagonist being evil?
    I know this sounds counter-intuitive, but bear with me a second. My major villain in my fictional story is the main character’s “twin” if you will. Not sure if I want to take this to literal blood or spiritual, but still. In this way he’s the protagonist’s “Yang”, but he’s never personified as evil, and I simply can’t bring myself to push that reality onto him. It’s more of a sibling disagreement that sparks a war of sorts, than the final battle between Tom Riddle and Harry Potter.

    How should I flesh out such a character? How would I write him as the antagonist without making him seem to personify evil? Would I need to write from two different view points? Should I have them come together to fight a greater evil toward the end of the plot, or is that too cliched of an idea?

    • AsterAurum

      I’m thinking about doing a story that sounds a lot like yours, and my problem is a lot like that. What I’ve decided to do is pull in a third character, who is going to manipulate my villain so that she doesn’t relate as much to her sister, by encouraging her to use her skill on a side that she says would appreciate her more.
      I’m also thinking then, now that these sisters are on opposite sides, their animosity just escalates until there’s no going back. Maybe the villain realizes she doesn’t like all this hostility between her and her sister, but they can’t agree over anything and the sister who’s been manipulated isn’t trusted by her sibling. They’re missing each other and want to get back together, but they can’t trust each other and neither want to be the first person to admit they miss each other that much. In direct conflict, one will maybe tease the other without realizing how seriously the other is taking it, and doubt her sister’s happiness and satisfaction in her situation, getting a bit sad when she realizes that’s how she feels too. This only widens the rift between them.
      As long as you put a bit of regret in the antagonist, nobody’s going to think they’re evil. At least, I won’t. If you only do one point of view, make sure they’re able to see signs the other is unhappy, but not enough signs to make that character able to see for themselves that their sibling feels that way. I think if you’re able to make at least one of the two happy with the situation in the end, that’s a good resolution, at least a better one than an over-cliched ending. Let me know if these ideas work for your story.

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  • M.J. Herald

    One of my all time favorite movies, “Officer and a Gentleman.”. The hero is, of course, Richard Gere. The villain is Louis Gosset, Jr. Gere is a young, fragile man full of anger and self-doubt, struggling to decide if he has the right stuff to be a pilot. Gosset is the drill Sergeant who “punishes” Gere by forcing him to fight, pushing him to his limits and threatening to throw him out of the program. It is during the infamous scene of Gosset lying down on the ground with Gere and telling him to quit, Gosset’s villain status changes. It is here you realize Gosset is not the enemy. The enemy, the true villain is Gere. His own fear, his own walk-around sense of self is what he was fighting against all along. Gosset was not the villain, he was the man who could see through Gere’s veneer. He was the hero of the story.

  • I Don’t Even Read

    This is not written
    in prose, sorry.

    The Mayor knows who
    this boy is, and nobody else does. It may have been for a very hard
    life that he dragged him into this town but it’s better than the
    ‘better’ life he would have led. A quiet happy little life. Never
    making any mark on the world, never shaping it for the better.
    Sitting in a drum circle in the trees. No, he had saved him. Even if
    they were lost in the obscurity of time, history will remember the
    effect of their actions at least. In fact, it’s better that way.

    This boy is a
    dreamer. There is no sign of it from the outside, only blank shark
    eyes to stare into. But when he closes them they shine.

    At night he flies,
    and never remembers.

    By day he drags himself. Well he doesn’t seem to drag, he moves with an almost angry,
    but robotic aloof dance, every motion choreographed. But his mind is
    always so many steps behind his body.

    It was always like this but it got worse and worse. His body knew what to do but his
    mind still… Turned over and waxed and waned. Eventually the time
    came when I had to be sure that the dark side of that moon was turned
    permanently towards earth.

    The Mayor.

    He’s a man that is restoring order to his city. Unlike his idealistic predecessor, he
    can make difficult rational decisions. He had always admired Arthur,
    he was his inspiration for becoming a politician, he improved the
    lives of those around him, if only superficially or temporarily. He’s
    not weighed down by the inaction of conventional morality. He knows
    that fighting crime is not a realistic goal. Crime must be
    controlled. From the inside if necessary. People even if given the
    chance to do the right thing will choose to be selfish thing nine
    times out of ten. The solution is to make the right thing and the
    selfish thing the same. He realizes that his methods may result in
    people getting hurt, no he admits that he actively hurts people…
    and he often sits at his desk at night, staring into a candle instead
    of sleeping but if the world is a better place than he left it…
    killing Arthur was worth it.

  • Joel Wright

    I am not going to post any stories on this due to the fact that I am in the process of writing my book, and I don’t want to accidentally leak anything, but I will post a little bit of information just to show a dumbed down version of the developing relationship.
    Kyle is a 15 year old boy who inherited his powers from his father, who happens to be one of the greatest superheroes of their time. He is well liked and loves his life and everyone around him. He is discreet with his powers and often ignores them if possible.

    Enter Tyler, a boy who is desperate for power. He is adopted and constantly abused. When Tyler and Kyle were young they were best friends.When Tyler meets Kyle again he catches on to Kyle’s powers and wants them for himself. Tyler is desperate to have any power, and will stop at nothing to gain it.

  • Salwa Ib

    ‘Prophet’ Adam: (self-proclaimed prophet) and cult leader of ‘God’s Army’. Villain.

    Adam, or his real name–Solomon Isaac Lee was a cult leader and founder of ‘God’s Army’. He was a narcissistic man, a borderline extreme psychopath who had ‘tendencies’ towards young children. His idea for his cult began ever since he was resuscitated from death within an attempted suicide by throwing himself over a bridge.

    Doctors and nurses claimed his death to be a miracle case, where he was pronounced dead for five minutes but came back to life, gasping for air and muttering of how he ‘saw the truth’. Now Adam wasn’t religious by choice, he was raised in a whipping, strict, catholic family but had always wanted to escape from his family’s clutches and crazed misconceptions and fanaticized view of ‘The Lord’. Yet this experience had changed everything for him. No, he still didn’t revert back to his Catholic roots, but felt enlightened by this death experience where he saw his true purpose on the earth. He started small, amassing believers who were entrapped by his miraculous case, all of them seeking the ‘truth’ he wanted to share with the world. His cult became larger, and more predominant where they travelled from different countries trying to spread the ‘truth’ he saw in his death. Whereupon, in the poverty stricken streets of Thailand he discovered a little abandoned baby where he had personally chosen to be taken into his congregation as ‘Alcestis’.

    Alcestis Adam, real intended name–Grace ‘Ha-Young’ Murolo. (Heroine?) Half-korean/half italian.

    Her birth story is unclear, Adam claims that he adopted her from Thailand where he found her abandoned on the side of the road. She feels extreme gratitude and guilt towards him, yet this transforms as she begins to question his teachings as she becomes more exposed to Sabine, who questions her deeply rooted beliefs and Adam’s ‘teachings’ and ‘truth’. Sabine’s questioning brings forth her compressed doubts about Adam, where she discovers a more insidious truth to him and his cult organisation where they not only steal money but children and sell them as sex-slaves to amass power.
    At first she finds this hard to believe and questions everything she knows about her life, herself and her identity. She struggles with the indoctrination placed upon her as she becomes increasingly dissent towards the strict lifestyle she lives and the restraints put in place of ‘protection’.

    She eventually discovers that she was born in Italy, where her korean mother and italian father were living in but had moved to America in order to search for her. Her mother was an investigative human rights officer that specialised in investigating human trafficking where both her parents had been constantly searching for her after she had been stolen from their home, 17 years ago.

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