“You have to write the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for grown-ups, then you write it for children.”
~Madeleine L’Engle

Three Guidelines for Writing Villains

Most writers (and readers) have learned by now that a good villain involves more depth than just a bad guy running around, trying to take over the world. But how do you do that? What’s the secret for writing villains? writing villains

Treat your villain like your hero

A good rule of thumb to follow with any character you create is to treat each of them like the hero of the story.

Of course you can only have one true protagonist (most of the time), but each character should think he’s the star of the show. Often times your characters will open up to you more if they think the spotlight is on them. Your villain shouldn’t be any different.

Give him a back story, give him a fear (or several), give him a family. Your villain is an important character, so treat him like one.

Give him a redeeming quality  

All good villains have redeeming qualities that either make you feel sorry for them or simply make them a little less evil. Snape’s redeeming quality was his love for Lily. Voldemort’s lonely childhood as Tom Riddle made us feel just a little sorry for him (but only a little). My villain tragically lost his wife when his colleagues killed her, despite his order not to.

All of these things help to give your villain more depth, just like giving your protagonist flaws helps to make him more human. What are your villain’s redeeming qualities?

Have they always been evil?

This is a great question to ask yourself, and more often then not you’ll get a surprising answer. Most people—in life and in fiction—aren’t born as evil people. Maybe they were raised to be bad or something in their life caused them to change their views, but usually someone or something has to make them that way. If you find out what happened, you’ll learn a little more about your villain.

Who are your favorite villains? What do you like about them?


Ready to start writing villains today? Take a scene from your novel or short story involving your protagonist and your villain. Then, rewrite it so it’s told from your villain’s point of view. What did you learn about your villain from writing it? If you’d like, post your practice in the comments. Be sure to give your fellow writers some feedback, too. Have fun!

About The Magic Violinist

The Magic Violinist is a young author who writes mostly fantasy stories. She loves to play with her dog and spend time with her family. Oh, and she's homeschooled. You can visit her blog at themagicviolinist.blogspot.com. You can also follow The Magic Violinist on Twitter (@Magic_Violinist).

  • Not all villains need sympathetic backstories. If they do, and you accidentally make them seem too sympathetic, so you’ll end up with the Draco In Leather Pants (I hope I did that right). That scenario isn’t really that good, is it?

    • 709writer

      Yeah, I mean if you make people feel too sorry for a bad guy, he may not seem like the villain anymore. Plus, I want to hate the villain, but I want to love to hate the villain, if that makes sense.

    • LOL

  • 709writer

    I’ve always liked bad guys who get under my skin. A “bwahaha! I have you now, hero!” type of bad guy who monologues his evil plan all the time will have me yawning, but show me someone who is sinister in a more subtle way, and I’ll take a second look at him. However, there is an exception to the monologue-loving, “bwahaha” rule. Eggman, the main villain from the Sonic the Hedgehog series, constantly talks about his evil plans to build Eggmanland and crush Sonic. But Eggman’s hilarious when he does it, so it’s entertaining. He’s definitely one of my all-time favorite bad guys. Aside from him, I like bad guys to be scary, and not always in an obvious, in your face way. A bad guy who pretends he’s a good guy can be very interesting, and creepy, too.

    • Indeed, compelling evil can be more interesting than the protagonist or hero. I think what makes them compelling is a well drawn, non-stereotype, where light and dark forces can be seen battling in the behavior of our bad guy.

  • From my memoir – Tell Me What He Did – my father survived a heart attack and went back to his childhood church – Christian Science. I hope to use this scene to give some of my father’s backstory. I have to write in first person, so this is the best I can do to show things from my father’s past.

    Instead of solving my math problem, I doodle on a piece of scrap paper. It’s hard to concentrate when Daddy screams at Mommy for coughing during the news. He’s meaner now than when he drank. Wish he never had that heart attack, palpi… palpo … whatever they call them. Wish he’d go back to Hal’s Bar.

    Daddy clears his throat by my bedroom door.

    I scribble a few numbers, and look at him.

    “Hurry up. Finish your homework. Testimonial meeting tonight.”

    “Okay.” I solve my last problem and change out of play clothes. I hate these stupid meetings. Ever since his heart stuff we have to go to the Christian Science Church and miss all the good TV shows. Why’d I ever want to go to church? Sunday School’s okay, it’s the other stuff.

    The ride to church is peaceful – no yelling. Wonder who lives in the houses alongside
    the highway. I catch a glimpse of the drive-in movie screen. It’s the closest I come to seeing a movie that’s not on TV. Mommy and Daddy’s cigarette smoke’s so thick, I crank my window a tiny bit for a breath of fresh air.

    Since Christian Scientists aren’t supposed to smoke, right before we get to church, they tamp out their cigarettes and put a drop of Binaca on their tongues. Who are they kidding? Binaca doesn’t hide the smell of smoke on their clothes.

    From our pew near the middle of the church, I glance around. Mostly grownups, but it
    doesn’t matter. Even if someone from Sunday school were here, I’d still have to sit between Mommy and Daddy.

    We sing as the organist plays Onward Christian Soldiers – hymns are the best part of the meeting. After the song, someone reads passages from the Bible and Science and Health, then the boring part – sitting quietly and waiting for someone to stand and give their testimony. What if no one stands? Nah, that’d never happen.

    My throat tickles. I can’t stop coughing.

    Daddy glares.

    Swallowing doesn’t help. The more I try not to, the more I cough. If I don’t get this under control, he’ll hit me for sure when we get to the car. Mommy passes me a mint and that helps a little.

    Two pews in front of us, a short, dumpy man in a blue suit stands. “Sprained my ankle
    two weeks ago. Rested it and read the Bible and Science and Health. Took two weeks of claiming the truth, but my ankle’s better. Now I walk without a limp.” He sits down.

    We’re not supposed to applaud, just sit quietly and wait for the next person to stand. If I were God, I’d want a little applause, though that wasn’t much of a miracle. When Sally sprained her ankle in gym, it only took two weeks to heal.

    I hear a stirring sound and look over my shoulder. A woman with grey hair stands. She
    wipes her hands on her skirt and clears her throat.

    “Stop looking around,” Daddy pokes my leg with a knuckle and whispers through tight
    lips. “Sit still.”

    The woman says, “I lost a button from my coat, prayed, and retraced my steps. It took some time, but God helped me find it.”

    That’s just common sense. I stifle a yawn and shift around. The hard wooden pew cuts
    into my backside. Wish there were cushions.

    Daddy stands. His hands grip the back of the pew in front of us. “When I was a little boy, I used to play in an abandoned mine shaft down the street from my house in Minnesota.”

    People turn to look at Daddy.

    I sit up straighter. Daddy’s never talked about when he was little. I can’t even imagine
    him as a little boy.

    “I jumped down the shaft and drove a huge spike through my foot.”

    Ouch. I wince just imagining that.

    “Aunt Marion, my stepmother, pulled out the spike and bandaged my foot. The wound
    festered and turned green. Doctor said he’d have to amputate. Aunt Marion soaked it in hot salt water. We prayed and read the Bible and Science and Health. When she took my foot out of the water and placed it on her lap, the pus drained. Within a few days my foot was healed.” Daddy sits.

    Another person stands up, but I don’t hear him. I think about what Daddy said. Did he
    get into a lot of trouble as a boy? What happened to his real mother? Playing in a mineshaft?

    After the meeting, people come up to Daddy and congratulate him on his testimony. He
    smiles. Maybe he’ll forget about my coughing.

    On the way home, Daddy puts a nitroglycerine pill under his tongue. They both light up cigarettes – so much for the no smoking and medicine rules.

    • Susan Smith-Grier

      Nice job Heather. I have such difficulty writing in first person especially when it comes to dialogue. I think it’s helpful how you depict what one of my friends called the “dry drunk;” how oftentimes getting sober doesn’t necessarily translate in to a better lifestyle. Observing the behaviors of the parents from the child’s standpoint and how actions and expectations don’t add up is very effective.

      • Thank you. I’m learning as I go and my writing gets stronger, I hope. My goal is to help others who have been abused find that there is healing.

    • I do feel compassion for Daddy. A difficult past can easily make one a bitter drunk and hypocrite. Also, the healed foot justifies his religious views. I snorted with the bit of snark, “… wasn’t much of a miracle. When Sally sprained her ankle in gym, it only took two weeks to heal.” Humor is very important in storytelling.

      • Thanks – I’m glad the humor doesn’t feel out of place. Those were really weird meetings.

  • Susan Smith-Grier

    From my WIP:

    Kerian followed behind Sophia convinced that she had to die.
    Who did she think she was coming here and disturbing the peace? All he wanted
    was for the people to understand that she was doing nothing more than causing
    trouble by spreading lies about some other deity out there in the ether
    watching over everyone and everything.

    People like this had come along before trying to disrupt the
    natural order of things and it had always been up to Kerian to set things
    right. But this one, this Sophia, had not quietly slipped away. No, she
    continued espousing things about this grand and glorious TOAA who was above
    everything, who knew everything and who was going to come and judge everyone.

    The citizenry was becoming concerned and things were
    starting to change and as far as Kerian could tell, it wasn’t for the better.
    The more he thought about the changes Sophia was causing, the angrier he
    became. He clenched his jaws and fists in rhythm to his footsteps. He thought
    about all the “visions” people had been talking about and the glorious alien beings
    purported to have been seen. All of this since Sophia had arrived.

    Now they were in the north park. A beautiful but secluded
    area and Sophia suddenly turned to face Kerian. “You are so wrong in your
    thinking,” was all she said as she looked directly, sharply into his clear
    green eyes.

    Kerian felt every cell inside himself explode with anger. “How
    dare you say that to me you witch!” Even he was surprised at the venom behind
    his words. Sophia only stared at him which pushed him completely over the edge.

    Kerian’s jaws tightened and his lip curled as he pulled a
    long blade from a scabbard under his coat. “Die, Witch” he yelled as he rushed
    at Sophia knocking her down to the ground. With one hand on her throat, and the
    other raised to plunge the knife into her heart, he looked deep into her eyes
    and whispered, “Die.”

    Sophia had only love and compassion in her eyes as she
    stared back at Kerian unsurprised and unshaken by his attack. For a fleeting
    moment, he caught himself softening ever so slightly. But, before he could
    recover completely a being appeared, wielding a glowing sword which seemed to
    hum. The creature’s eyes burned fiercely as he raised the humming sword with
    one hand.

    • Nice. Black/white thinking is a great insight into villains and anti-heroes.

      • Susan Smith-Grier

        Thanks Dawn. Of course I still need to flesh out Kerian more in the actual story. He is dark, but I also want him to have some little redeeming value. I haven’t quite figured out what that’s going to be yet.

    • Interesting conflict between conflicting theologies. Some words might be able to be left out – if someone is following another it sort of implies behind. Instead of telling maybe have him think – She has to die. Who does she think she is, coming here to disturb the peace? Why don’t the people realize all she’s doing is …. that way we feel we are in Kirin’s head, not outwardly observing his thoughts. Does that make sense? Still it is a good story line and I’d like to see it completed.

      • Susan Smith-Grier

        You are right Heather, I can lose some words in here. And I have a bad habit of redundancy and saying the same thing over again!! Kinda like deja vu all over again!! 😉 But seriously, thanks for your insight!

    • This kind of villain is fascinating because they are sooooo abducted about their “truth” as the only one that they become insane fanatics.

      You can read everyday in the news about thoses extremists people doing thing in an irrational way. Great work!

      • Susan Smith-Grier

        Thanks Teo; it needs a lot of work still, but I think this exercise helped me a lot.

  • I am delighted with the serendipity of your blog, which poses questions I am currently pondering. I have a tricky villain, as you shall see. I’m giving backstory rather than a scene, which I fleshed out for this blog. I’m very interested if anyone could find sympathy. Baring that, is there a scenario where sympathy could be found with this character?

    My villain is the protagonist, Amy’s, uncle, still yet unnamed. He is the son of a prominent family on the island of Saipan in Micronesia, now a U.S. Territory since WWII. His family has land that they’ve developed and are quite rich. He came to Hawaii to study business and politics at the University of Hawaii, and married Amy’s aunt. Recently, he became involved in a land development deal in Hawaii which is struggling to find fruition.

    Micronesia’s island culture is sexually open and free and kids marry and have sex when young. Theirs is a society that sees sex without shame, guilt, or sin. He had witnessed his parents and others having sex on numerous occasions. Often a close relative would introduce sex to a maturing child and culturally is considered a caring and desired initiation into adulthood. His first coitus was with an older cousin when he was 11. His sister’s first encounter was her uncle. He then had numerous encounters with many girls and even a few boys as a teen. Sex is open and free.

    He encouraged an open marriage with his wife, Amy’s aunt. It’s become a problem cuz she’s having a few affairs and he is not. Now the Aunt is telling him she no longer love’s him or is attracted to him sexually. They are talking about divorce.

    Amy and her Uncle have had a very nice relationship. He has been kind to her and is her favorite relative. She just turned 12 twelve and is blossoming and beautiful. One day, they are playing pool and as they take turns shooting balls and exchanging teasing comments, it occurs to him that she is of age and is ready for her initiation. He is aware that America has different cultural standards. But, as a result of the frustrations from being rejected by his wife and business dealings gone awry, he justifies a series of increasing intense molestations of Amy, which he considers perfectly natural, even the
    right thing to do.

    Amy is, at first, confused by these actions, but not repulsed. Her feelings change over the course of the story and she is increasingly apprehensive of her once favorite relative.

    • Sounds interesting – I trifled with open marriage when i was younger – found it brought on a lot of problems. one of which you mention – when one of the couple has a relationship and the other doesn’t. Sounds like a good, complex character.

      • Thank you, Heather. Yes, regarding open marriages, sometimes we have to be careful what we wish for.

    • I think culture is one of the most complex to understand in the world. What for some humans are really normal, for others are sick, like the “Pervert” Uncle.

      The best about your character is it will bring some controversy in the reader like “but it is not his fault! He is following his culture!”, but it would be very hard to empathize with him.

      However, it is a very interesting villain. Someone who you will hate easily! Keep working on it!

      • Thank you, Teo. I have the same debate going on in my head. Perhaps a villain doesn’t need empathy so much as to evoke complex emotions from the reader, compelling him/her to keep reading.

    • Lisa

      That is a hard one – what he does just incites such strong feelings against him, I think. But it is interesting, the whole cultural aspect…still, I can’t find myself forgiving him…but, maybe if you made something in his character likeable, perhaps if he showed some compassion, I don’t know, something in him that showed he had some feelings that were caring towards people. It is a difficult topic! I suppose though, it’s not that the reader needs to forgive him, just that we need to find him believable and human.

      • I’m glad he evokes strong feelings in you. Yes, for him to be fully realized, I will need to make him a caring person in some ways. Ultimately, he is my bad guy and we won’t be rooting for him. You’re right in that I don’t need forgiveness of my villain, or even compassion, but that he be compelling enough for the reader to invest his/her feelings and time in my story.

      • Oh, and thank you for your observations, Lisa. 🙂

    • Avril

      Well this one is hard for me. Even in a different cultural context, where sexual relations between adults and prepubescents is allowable, I am assuming these relations are consensual. It sounds like the Uncle clearly understands Amy does not welcome his advances. So it is really just about what he wants, at any cost. Am I missing the point? Uncle sounds like a villain and I’m not finding empathy for him. Dawn you write this so well. It’s realistic and I want to kick uncle’s butt!

      • Thank you, Avril. I’m so glad you feel like kicking his butt! It’s a great reaction cuz, yes, he ultimately is out to get what he wants, whatever it takes. I hope I can create him vibrantly enough so that you’ll stick around til the end of the story.

    • Sidney

      Wow – tricky subject and brave of you to confront it. Personally, I feel that readers who respect cultural differences may be able to find some sympathy for the character you’ve depicted here. With enough emphasis on what he perceives to be an accepted norm, I’d definitely be able to empathise with the confusion and conflict that he faces, if he does. Does he?
      Note to other readers – please don’t feel that I’m implying you don’t have respect for cultural differences if you disagree with my comment. I did use ‘may’.

      • It is a tricky subject. Our culture has more issues surrounding sex than violence, sadly. I hope to make him conflicted but ultimately self-serving, which is how villains are, I think. If they were considerate to others, they wouldn’t commit their evil deeds. As to respect for cultural differences, that is a very complex question with no easy answers and one I hope to explore with this character. Thank you for your thoughts, Sydney.

        • Sidney G Fox

          You’re welcome. I look forward to learning more about your story and culture.

    • I agree with Sidney, this is a tricky subject. It’s easy to feel very conflicted about the situation, seeing as this would be disgusting by our standards. But the standards in your society are quite different. But I definitely would be able to sympathize with his confusion.

      • Thanks for your feedback! Hopefully, he’ll be compelling enough to keep readers reading. 🙂

  • Sandra D

    This comes up with one of my main problems right now. My main character is an anti hero and I am having trouble making him likable enough for someone to bother with.

    • For me, one main difference between an anti hero and a hero is the selfish factor. The hero is truly sacrificed for his cause, even if he has to die in the process… The anti hero would never take that way!

    • Ditto, Teo!

  • The plan was perfect. More richness to the people of Lamasama and less enemies menacing them.

    Tom knew he needed to make a pact with the enemy. He knew he had to sacrifice some loyal soldiers… till his girlfriend Lexi found out about it.

    “Why did you have to stop it?” says Tom with a gun to his fiancé. “We were going to build a brand new Lamasama City”.

    Lexi is in the ground, almost breathing. Her arm is bleeding and she is near to the edge of the broken window in the military skyscraper.

    “At what cost, Tom?”, replies Lexi. “You gave many of our food territories to the enemies in an exchange of gold? You lost your mind!”

    “YOU LOST YOUR MIND, LEXI”, says Tom, pointing at her. “It was brilliant. We could get more gold to improve our armors, buy even better military technologies to our allies… but you… you are worry about the food and…”

    “People are dying because they have nothing to eat! Your weapon race have let them starving to death!”.

    Tom has no answer. Slowly Lexi stands up.

    “You thought what people need… but you actually never knew it”, says Lexi. “Now we have to ally with the enemy, because we need their food”.


    Tom shoots. Lexi dodge the bullet and swims Tom, who bumps with her leg and falls into the void.

    Lexi strenghts her arm… but is too late.

    Lexi cries.

    • Is Lexi the protagonist in this story? If so, I could imagine it being more gripping written in the first person tense. I’m not sure if that’s good advice or not, but just notice how these sentences become more intense and personal:

      “Why did you have to stop it?” Tom says with a gun to my head. “We were going to build a brand new Lamasama City”.

      I’m on the ground, almost breathing. My arm is bleeding and its near to the edge of the broken window in the military skyscraper.

      Also, instead of saying “Lexi cries,” try showing how she cries (i.e. Tears poured down her cheek as she writhed with the sobs. The gravity of her situation made collapse on the ground.)

      Just ideas. Take from them what you want. 🙂

      • I will try that! Thanks for the ideas to improve the story. I like the first person narrative, I was trying something different in this case. Thanks again! 😀

    • Ah, money for military at the expense of food. If you substitute healthcare for food, then you have a metaphor for our society. 😉 I’m not sure how Tom reads over the whole story, but if he really cares about Lexi as he’s shooting her (basically being conflicted between a love and ambition, has a tear in his eye as he pulls the trigger) then we can feel more poignancy in his actions. 🙂

      • You are right, great idea! This is part of a sci fi universe story that I’m developing and yes, it is about the gap between some leaders’ goals and people’s needs. Thanks for the feedback!

    • I was a little confused on who was narrating, and I’m not sure what happened at the end exactly, but this is a great start. 🙂 I can see both sides to the story, which is always good, because it leaves the reader conflicted on who they should be rooting for.

      • Thanks for the comment! The confusing part is something I must work on it soon. You are the second person who says the same about this practice. I will improve it! thanks once again

  • Jeff Spence

    I like most of my villains. If I don’t, I know something is off. The way I think about it is to craft them, whenever possible, as regular people with goals or ideologies that simply conflict with those who are the protagonists. The more fantastic or stylized the story, the less this is true, but it is still a guideline that helps me to craft believable, engaging characters. The best part is that this kind of crafting increases tension in addition to any plot tension already present. Since I often write mystery/thriller, this is a welcome side effect.

    • Lisa

      Making them regular people with opposing goals or ideologies to the protaganist sounds like a good plan.

    • That’s a great way to approach it. 🙂 I’ve wondered sometimes if my characters would turn out better if I focused on my villain first instead of my protagonist, just to mix things up. I’ll try using your technique when I do!

  • Avril

    This is a rewrite of a scene in my novel, in which the protagonist and the two villains (and many more people) are at a celebratory luncheon. As written from the protagonist’s point of view, the villains’ monstrous egos are plain for all to see, and this is a turning point. Here it is written from the perspective of the head honcho villain, Dr. Tonias Black.

    I always say I’ll stop doing something when it’s not fun anymore, and based on her holier-than-thou behavior this afternoon, I’ve decided to stop trying to get along with Dr. Donalda Clifford. Sure, I’ll keep her on staff, and I’ll continue to fund her research. She is brilliant. There is no one else alive right now who has the scientific insight and the engineering chops to mass produce a Robobionotic: a robot that can think and make subjective choices better than the highest functioning human beings.

    Like many people who have a very high IQ, Dr. Clifford can’t find her ass with a map, and she has significant challenges in understanding, and being understood by, other people. She has no common sense in managing her daily operation. I have been patient and generous in cleaning up her messes and paying to repeat processes that she lost track of. She refuses to act like a manager, opting to be “Dr. Donnie”, everyone’s buddy. She takes it for granted I’ll pick up the slack for her, and I do.

    Today, she couldn’t even be gracious enough to give her colleagues some well-deserved acknowledgement. Today, Dr. Sasha Small (author’s note: villain alert) and her team received FDA approval to implant Cheery Chips in the brain of every man, woman, and child in the United States. This is a landmark achievement, and not just because it will make us all rich. With the Cheery Chip implant, the human brain will only function in a state of positivity, and will be incapable of making choices that could cause problems for oneself or others.

    I booked a private ballroom at the Palace Hotel, and threw an opulent luncheon for our entire staff. I confess, I may have been indulging in a little hyperbole, and it may have been the single malt scotch talking, but I made an over-the-top speech. The whole time I was talking, Dr. Clifford continuously rolled her eyes. I congratulated Dr. Small for this amazing advance in science and culture. I explained to our loyal and hardworking team that Dr. Small and I had brought our vision to reality, that all negativity as we know it will be eradicated, like smallpox. It was not immodest of me to claim our victory, to describe the new civilization of peace, happiness, and obedience. Knowing a good speech must have an inspirational ending, I threw my arm around Dr. Small’s shoulders, raised my glass, and shouted, “We are the Creators!”

    When I said “Creators”, Dr. Clfford glared at me for a full five minutes. While she glared, her mouth hung open, and all I could think was, I’m glad I’m not a dentist. Who could take looking at that all day?

    Dr. Clifford abstained from the toast, and for the remainder of the meal, she whispered and groused with her obsequious minions, that clingy gaggle of junior scientists she confides in.

    I have given Dr. Clifford every accomodation she requested, to keep her happy here. I cannot believe she had to ruin the celebration of our first success.

    • Dr. Tonias Black has a monstrous ego when written from his POV. Lol. I see how he justifies his actions as a win-win. Good for the people (obedient, peaceful) and good for himself and his team (they get rich). I think evil is like that. It justifies. No evil person would ever describe themselves as evil. It looks like your creating a kind of Brave New World-esque reality. Cheery Chips are frightening to me.

      • Avril

        Thanks Dawn. I do believe the worst evils are committed by the amoral. No value system, other than to get what they want. They neither enjoy nor regret the cost to others. Sometimes they don’t care. Usually it doesn’t even register. Not having a conscience, and lacking human empathy, they can rationalize and reframe any behavior to suit their ends.

    • Ooh, I can definitely see what Dr. Clifford would be thinking in your original piece, but I can also see both sides to the story. The Cheery Chips sound like the perfect start to a dystopian or sci-fi novel, seemingly convenient, but ultimately terrifying.

      • Avril

        Yes, more dystopian, not so much sci fi.

  • Lisa

    I am sure that she hates me; that she wants us to break
    up. I just want to feel comfortable in
    my own house, but she is around, sulking, causing difficulty, talking about me
    to her father. She writes secret little
    things in her diary, and she never tells me what is going on in her life. She doesn’t like me, I know that. It is awful to feel so unwanted, and I am terrified
    every time she talks to her father about me, that she will turn him against me.
    I can sense it in him sometimes, this turning away from me, this feeling that
    he has left me emotionally, he has become cold.
    I feel so alone, and it makes me hate her, really it does. It’s like a tidal wave of fury building up
    and ripping through me until all I can see is blackness. Every day I think I hate her more.

    It wasn’t always like this.
    When I first met her father we were so in love and drowning in bliss
    that the girl never really featured as a problem. She was sort of on the periphery for me, a
    little five year old, not someone I could really understand, but I did my best
    to make friends with her. She liked to
    play in her own imaginary world, and I tried to join her once, making her
    little porcelain doll with ruby hair talk to a plastic blonde one, but it bored
    me very quickly. I was never that good
    with children, never much of a child myself really. I didn’t have friends when I was young. I was always the odd one in the class, the
    one that was ignored or picked on.

    So we were sitting in a pool of sunlight in her pastel pink
    bedroom, and I looked at her with her round flushed cheeks and her dark hair
    all unruly and falling out of a pony-tail, her chin set firmly as she
    concentrated on buttoning a paisley dress on to the doll. I tried not to think that it was her mother
    that had tied her hair that morning; that her father would be driving her back
    there that afternoon. But the thought
    hovered in the back of my head like an ugly trapped flying insect, and it was
    the beginning of this feeling that has grown and grown, this feeling that
    I am small and not really wanted; a
    sense of insignificance that drives me into a rage against the girl that
    brought it upon me.

    • poorna_katha

      This is a great back story. I can see this as a setting for the basic conflict of the novel.
      I particularly liked this line: “But the thought hovered in the back of my head like an ugly trapped flying insect”. Many times the thoughts that bother us are like annoying, persistent insects that keep buzzing around in our minds. Very perceptive!

      • Lisa

        Thank u! 🙂

    • Sidney

      I love the detail you’ve used here, with the description of the girl sitting in her room ‘buttoning a paisley dress’, I was drawn into the room too. The conflict between the idyllic peaceful picture and the thoughts in your character’s head really stands out for me.

      • Lisa

        Thank you 🙂

    • Your writing has rich details. Rejection and insecurity are great underpinnings for evil acts and are totally relatable. I was a little confused in this exerpt with pronouns as to who is who between his lover and the little girl, but then it is an exerpt.

      • Lisa

        Thank you Dawn..I see what you mean about the pronoun confusion 🙂

    • Echoing Dawn, I was also a little confused on what exactly was happening, but your writing is beautiful and I had no problem sympathizing with the man. 🙂

      • Lisa

        Thank you for the valuable feedback. I guess it was a bit confusing without the rest of the story to explain 🙂

  • Chloee

    I stared at the girl. My hazel eyes staring into her as she quietly strode in front of me. I sneered. “Why so quiet little one?” She looked at me. “You’ve gotten worse.” She said calmly. I growled.

    My condition had gotten worse in the past months but that was no concern of her’s. “No matter.” I slid my hand into the slick handle of my gun that tightly clung onto my side. “Leave the gun.” She brushed her hand towards me as if flicking a fly away. I stiffly rose my hand up and walked over to her.

    My breath grew deeper as I came closer. The sheer disgust of being near her made me want to vomit. “I want to know why your here.” She ignored me. “Your upset.” I looked at her baffled at the sight of her.

    Her blue eyes peered into my soul. She was so calm and pure filled with innocence that I once had innocence but it was taken from me.

    Pulled right out of my reach. I was ten years old.

    I had endured many years of abuse from my father and late at night I would cry myself to sleep. “Boys don’t cry!” He would yell at me. Spit flying like a wild animal. My mother would try to sooth me but she was a broken woman filled with years of regret.

    On a cold day in winter my father had an outburst that was fueled with beer and thoughts that morther had cheated on him.

    Maybe she did but I would never know since he grabbed her and pushed her knocking her onto the floor and cracking her skull. He stared at her with fear of what he had done. “It was an mistake Danny you saw that.” I stared at him in anger.

    “You killed her!”

    My breath became deep and heavy and I grabbed the gun morther had always hid in case father did something. I raised it and pulled the trigger. He fell onto the floor. I stared at him and ran out the door never to come back.

    I snapped back to the girl. “You know nothing about me!” I smacked her sending her stumbling. The envy of wanting what she had that I once had took over and I began the fight which had taken over my life.

    • This was fantastic! 🙂 I can tell from the dialogue that from the girl’s point of view, this villain must seem like a cruel, heartless man. But then I look at this and feel a little sorry for him.

      • Chloee

        Thanks there’s still a lot of work but I’m slowly chipping away at it!

  • Guest

    He looked at disgust at the pile of a man before him. Someone who could be so easily maneuvered and changed to meet another man’s purpose. Here was someone who fit perfectly, someone who was begging for someone to take his life away from him. This was a slush pile who could not even take the smallest of problems without falling apart. If anyone deserved this, it was him.

    I enjoyed tearing that life away too. I enjoyed watching him take the treatment and the look in his eyes over the weeks as everything about his life slowly leeched away from his and he was left vacant empty like my computer screen. Now he is my shell, to do with and fill as I please. Many people would think that makes me no more then a beast to gain such satisfaction. But for one, I do so out of practicality not mere cruelness. It needs to be done for the good of all. So there is gain for all, it doesn’t hurt him more that I relish taking that power from him. He knows no more then God’s bugs crawling around mindlessly, so in a way there wasn’y any cruelty at all.

    But for someone to cast a finger at me, they ought to at least know what it has entailed to be me. Otherwise they know nothing. Everyone always wanting to point the finger of righteousness at others. But the average person could not even begin to imagine. If someone has gone through it and not gone cold in their hearts in some way then they may cast their stones at me and I will take that fall.

    Standing before that man and woman who set me up with the life, the regiments. They who would call it part of the divine way, and smile at me like who they made was something beautiful. And at night and in the dark of closets and tied to a chair. The things that happened are too much for me to even think about. I know bits and pieces and not all, I dare not think all ever. All I can say for certain is that I am my father’s son. I am who he made me. And when he took me, showed me off as the man of promise before all those academics and they gently clapped, I their knew pawn in a game I only play a small part in. I am a man ready for the jobs that need to be done.

    Three is when my training started. My eyes looking at my dad wuch innocent eyes, as all three years olds have. They can’t comprehend ugliness yet, only experinece it.

    And as this man, no this subject bumbles about, knowing nothing but feeling the ache of a life he had in his every step but not being able to actually know, excuse me but I will take some small joy in that. And when it comes time and his trust is absolute, I will push him off that cliff. As I have done with others before him, and will do to more after.

    • “They can’t comprehend ugliness yet, only experience it.” 🙂 Great line.

      This is a fantastic start! There weren’t a whole lot of details in your piece, so I’m especially curious at what exactly your villain is doing, but I can already feel sorry for him, who has obviously been hurt in the past. Great job!

    • 709writer

      A riveting bad guy.

  • Sidney

    This is a really interesting prompt for me, because I have two villains whose characters i want to turn around and show the other side of, eventually portraying as ‘not so bad after all’, and a villain who deserves everything he gets. It hadn’t even occurred to me that ‘really a baddie’ might have redeeming qualities or a story behind his actions. So immediate thanks for highlighting an area I clearly need to delve into more deeply.
    I’ll tackle it here, as a food for thought exercise and see what my brain churns out (having just completed the gibberish exercise it might decide to cooperate today!)

    OK so my baddie is a rapist and kind of pops-up out of nowhere to assault the main female character, who, at the time, is finally making progress with rebuilding her life after several near-breakdowns over a series of events she wasn’t strong enough to handle.
    This is horribly difficult. I worked with sex offenders for years and my coping strategy was to switch off to what they had been charged with and focus on helping them believe they could go back into the community, reintegrate or in some cases integrate successfully and live ‘normal’ lives..
    I think I might be going insane.
    15 minutes of internal debate re sex offenders and whether they can ever be ‘rehabilitated’. Oh, life.

    I’ll start again. Just thought I’d leave that thought process there in case anyone has any amazingly helpful suggestions 🙂

    The prison librarian met my eyes and held my gaze. She gave me the whole shpiel about education opportunities and registering for the computer access (with my fingerprints? is she serious?) and she did the whole polite and friendly, professional, helpful bullshit for at least four minutes. When I turned away to look at the books I sneaked a peek back to check her out properly and saw her taking steadying breaths, trying to conceal the revulsion that was pouring out of her every pore. Judgemental bitch. This is what I’m gonna have to deal with for probably the rest of my life. People judging me, avoiding me, holding their breath when forced to address me. The only people who are gonna ask for my side of the story are the sicko perverts I’m stuck in here with who wanna get a kick out of the details.
    Last night I heard one of them telling his cellmate about what he did to his best friend’s daughter and I wanted to twist his head off and kick it down the corridor. My ‘victim’ ain’t no kid. No underage shy virgin. She wanted me and she knew it. This is all unbelievable bullshit and who the hell cares how I’m feeling? Maybe I want to talk about it. Maybe I want to figure out whether I got mixed up with her signals and really did do something wrong or whether she’s a nasty little slut who led me on then cried wolf and got me slammed in here with these nonces, cos who’s gonna believe me over that whimpering beanpod with her virtuous face, wringing out her snotty tissues and wearing a polo-neck in court – she wasn’t wearing no polo-neck that night, that’s for sure.

    • Wow, and here was me thinking my villain was tricky. Bravo! Aside from the writing, I admire your social work. That’s not easy and a heroic calling. Hopefully, you’re work can feed the story.

      The defensive nature of your villain certainly comes through loud and clear with truthful resonance. Underneath his defensiveness, I wonder if his vulnerability can be found. Rage typically protects our feelings of vulnerability. He has a boundary for his acts (children) so he feels some morality. Perhaps he was abused himself as a child. Perhaps the primary women in his life have been abusive. Is there some deep shame he suffers from which drives him into violence? After a rape, is it just rage, or does some part of him feel pain, even sadness?

      Have you every read works by Brene Brown? She is an vulnerability researcher. Her work may be of some help. 🙂

      • Sidney G Fox

        I’ll have a look at Brene Brown works, thank you for the suggestion.

        As for the worst of my villains – I’ve been thinking about him all day today and I dislike him so intensely that I’ve decided he’s going to have to die 😉 I’m being flippant but am honestly completely thrown by him; having planned to keep him very much in the background initially, he’s now developing into another character who has the capacity to evoke sympathy for his situation and forcing me to look at his role from another angle.
        Am hopelessly confused about whether the planned pivotal event can work with a faceless/one dimensional character..

        Thanks for commenting, am really appreciative of every bit of help I can get at the moment!!

    • Wow, kudos to you for working with a villain like this one. Rapists are probably the hardest kind of villain you could pick for something like this, because no one wants to hear their side of the story. How in the world could they possibly have a side? It looks like you have a good start, though. 🙂 Good luck to you!

      • Sidney G Fox

        Thank you 🙂 I was originally writing sections with his first person point of view but it gave me nightmares so I had to make some changes! Will keep ploughing on and hope to share a few excerpts in the future.

  • Right now, my favorite villain is Phillip Tempest from Louisa May Alcott’s novel “A Long Fatal Love Chase.” He’s so devious and yet there’s something slightly charming about him too. I’m really enjoying the book as a whole. I don’t usually read books with strong villain characters. Perhaps that’s why my WIP is void of a typical “villain.” My book is more character driven and the situations that the protagonist faces are more or less her villains. I know every story doesn’t have to have a dastardly villain, just as long as it has an antagonistic force. Does anyone have any input on that?

    • EJ Heijnis

      As you say, I don’t think a villain is a required component of a great story. An antagonist is, but that is a much broader term that doesn’t imply a moral orientation like “villain” certainly does, regardless of how the character came to be so. Your main characters have to face opposition and overcome obstacles in order to reveal their qualities and grow. That could come in the form of a hostile environment, a madman bent on world domination to make up for the red tricycle he didn’t get, or even two main characters who happen to have incompatible needs.

      • You’ve explained this very well. I definitely think that villains can be excellent components of stories, but I don’t see one fitting into my story. Thank you for your thoughts! 🙂

    • You’re absolutely right, and sometimes those are the best stories, because there’s no face to hate. 🙂

  • Pingback: Monday Must-Reads [08.25.14]()

  • Pingback: Posts I loved this week | Taylor Grace()

  • Pingback: Instrucciones para escribir una novela | Proyecto Novela()