Maleficent, Elphaba, and You: The Secret to Writing Villains

by Emily Wenstrom | 40 comments

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Maleficent. Elphaba. Regina. There’s a reason these new spins on classic stories are so popular. These stories make for an intriguing new look at something old and familiar—one that forces us to reconsider the villain. We can all take a lesson from this villain-as-hero trend.

When writing villains, how do you create rich, compelling character? The answer is easy: Empathy.

Maleficent: Writing Villains

Photo by Global Panorama

Why Use Empathy When Writing Villains?

Empathy is the action of sharing another person’s feelings. As your characters’ creator, it’s your responsibility to do this for each and every one of them. Even the one who is trying to ruin everything for all the others. Because if you don’t care enough for your characters to do this, how will readers?

Easy answer: They won’t.

Empathy Makes Better Villains

Something interesting happens when you empathize for someone else: you inevitably begin to understand their opposing perspective. And a character we can understand is a better character, whether a villain or a hero.

A Big Bad Wolf may serve fine for a children’s tale, but when you settle into a novel, readers want more. Don’t just give readers reasons to hate your villain—if his favorite pastime is drowning kittens, how did he get that way? The best stories let you understand where every character is coming from.

How Do You Create Empathy?

There are many ways to encourage empathy when writing villains. While you could choose to rewrite their life story like in Wicked, you don’t have to. It can be as simple as giving your villain a redeeming quality.

For example, one would not usually lend your empathy to a freelance assassin hunting down a couple and their newborn. But in the comic book Saga, we see that assassin (the Will) become someone we can empathize for through a few simple acts. For example, readers don’t expect much when the Will makes a stop at a sex house for some down time, but he ends up fighting his way out to save a child held as a captive here. And bam! Suddenly the Will isn’t a heartless villain anymore. He’s an otherwise-alright guy who somehow ended up in the assassin business and is just trying to do his job.

Villains sometimes get the short end of the stick. While the hero basks in the readers’ love, the villain is often left underdeveloped. But all it takes to bring your villain to the next level is a little extra consideration—the kind of consideration you give your hero.

What villains have earned your empathy as a reader? How?


Choose a familiar story from your childhood and consider its villain. For fifteen minutes, write about what made that villain turn out that way.

When you're finished, post your practice in the comments section. And if you post, be sure to leave feedback for your fellow writers.

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By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, a sci-fi and fantasy author whose first novel Mud will release in March 2016.


  1. Traci Kenworth

    Villains are sometimes some of the funnest characters to right. I like to add a bit of a heart to them no matter how bad they become.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      I agree, sometimes there’s nothing more fun that a truly horrid character, and how they got there. It’s one of the many reasons I am completely in love with the Walking Dead comics–they know how to really have fun with the worst of humanity.

  2. Marilyn Ostermiller

    Three Little Pigs. The obvious villain is the Big Bad Wolf, who huffs, pulls and blows the the straw and stick houses down. But, was the wolf really the bad guy? The pigs obviously thought so, but let’s take a closer look. Maybe they were their own worst enemies.

    For Wolfy, the Building Inspector in Hamburg, it was just another day on the job. Checking the work orders on his desk, he realized that Fifer the Pig, was ready for the structural inspection on the house he was building. “This ought to be good,” Wolfy thought to himself. “I know that Fifer. He’s a lazy,good for nothing who is always taking shortcuts. All he does all day is play his fife while his brother fiddles and they dance a jig.”

    As Wolfy rounded the corner, he saw exactly what he expected. A haphazard straw structure that looked like a strong wind could blow it away.
    Wolfy knocked on the door. A voice from inside called out, “Who is it?”
    “Fifer, it’s me, Wolfy, come to inspect your house. Let me in.”
    “Oh no, I won’t. Not by the hair of my chinny chin chin.”
    “What do you mean? I can’t inspect the house if you don’t. Although, by the looks of it, I’ll bet I could huff and puff and simply blow the place down.”
    “Oh, wouldn’t you like to try,” Fifer dared him.
    A couple of huffs and a puff later, Fifer’s house was a haystack and the little pig was running for cover.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Hilarious! And creative. Thanks for sharing, Marilyn.

    • Marilyn Ostermiller

      Thanks for the post, Emily. It was run to tell “the rest of the story.”

    • Tea, the Spirit, and a Pen

      This reminds me so much of the True Story of the Three Little Pigs, if you haven’t read it you definitely should. I love this!

    • Marilyn Ostermiller

      Thanks for the comment! I had not heard of “True Story..” I will definitely look it up.

    • Sandra D

      this is a great idea.

    • Marilyn Ostermiller

      Thanks Sandra. I got a kick out of the idea of seeing the other side of the villain.

    • Sandra D

      yeah I love to encounter a well rounded villain in literature

  3. Joseph Koch

    Choose a familiar story from your childhood and consider its
    villain. For fifteen minutes, write about what made that villain turn out
    that way.

    Mordred. Ill-gotten bastard of a disasterous, illicit, incestuous affair between brother and sister, or at least brother and half-sister.
    He was poisoned by whatever his mother told him about his father. Of course he would hate his father. He is of noble birth twice over, and has been
    told who knows what by his mom, most likely that he’s evil , or at least a weak
    king that can or should be overthrown.

    I imagine he would be a young man, wishing to make his place
    in the world as well. Why wouldn’t he
    grab at power? He could build an army out of anyone who’s unhappy that they aren’t
    one of Arthur’s privelleged few. He’s a
    kid with an absentee dad who is told tales by his mom, who wishes for power
    herself, and revenge. Mordred’s mom uses
    him as a tool to get what she wants: to
    hurt Arthur, and Merlin, and get what she can out of it. I feel for the boy,
    because Mordred is just a useful pawn on Morgan Le Fay’s chessboard.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Ooo this sounds deliciously dark. Thanks for sharing Joseph!

  4. Brianna Worlds

    I love this post. I agree with it completely– all of my villains have some sort of tragic backstory, though I’m not sure to what degree they make sense. Since I don’t really remember any villains in my past (maybe I’m just too young), I’ll just have fun clumsily recording the past of this one unfortunate character.
    Jedal was born in the house of a lord.
    He was the heir, too– the oldest of his five siblings. His father was kind and scholarly; his mother was gentle and understanding. Life was good. Life was complete.
    It came as a shock when his father died in a rebel attack to a business meeting. When one is a child, one tends to believe that their parents are immortal, invincible. It fell to Jedal to take care of his four younger sisters and one younger brother, but his mother had fallen ill in the weakness of grief and didn’t have the means to care and pay for her children’s needs. The money that their father had left could only stretch so far– eventually she was forced to remarry.
    At first, things were good. Mother started to get better, and began working a part time job again. The new man, named Iman, seemed nice enough– at least, he did until the first time Jedal caught him.
    He had walked into the pantry looking for some coconut milk for his mom– she loved it, and he could tell that she was still awake, even though it was pretty late at night. At only seven years old, he was afraid of the dark, and had brought a lantern. The light brushed something in the corner, and he started. He heard a low, maniacal chuckle, and stumbled back, fear tripping over itself in his stomach. He was about to bolt when he heard a muffled scream, and stopped abruptly.
    It was Rosa. She was only three, and only slightly younger than his younger brother, Taye– and the oldest of his sisters. Gritting his teeth, steeling himself against the fear that was so thick in his veins he could swear he was glowing with it, he ran forward.
    His mouth gaped. There was Iman, crouched over Rosa. Rosa was on her stomach, and seemed to be breathing very hard, but that wasn’t what captivated him– no, it was the bloody array of cuts on her back.
    Jedal trembled. He knew he should say something, but he didn’t know what to say. Why hadn’t he gotten mommy before Iman had seen him? Because he saw him now; he was staring right at him. And he was grinning. Jedal whimpered and glanced fearfully at his sister.
    “Please,” he whispered, “Please leave her alone.”
    “Oh no,” Iman said gleefully. “You see, it takes two to play a game of x’s and o’s. I was hoping someone might show up.”
    Jedal’s brain felt like it froze in time as he tried to process that. Then, with a leap of panic, his eyes tore back to Rosa’s back. And sure enough, if he looked past the mess of blood, was four interlocking lines, and an x, right in the middle. Right in the centre of her tiny back.
    “Oh,” Jedal breathed, his legs failing him. He sat on the floor, and felt hot tears sting his face. “Oh no.”
    “Pick a move,” Iman invited graciously, and Jedal shook his head. He shook it and didn’t stop until Iman made him, grabbing his face and carving a small, shallow cut down his cheekbone. Jedal sucked in a breath of air to scream, but Iman’s hand was already over his mouth. The cut burned and stung, hot liquid running onto his neck. Tears streamed down his face.
    “Pick a move, or I may have to made a prettier sketch on *your* back,” Iman said, his face close to Jedal’s. “More detailed, perhaps.” Jedal was having trouble seeing him, though, because his vision was black around the edges with pain and panic.
    Jedal pointed at random, and Iman smiled devilishly. “Good one,” he said, and carved it onto Rosa’s back, a small o in the top left corner. Again, there was a muffled scream. She must be gagged, Jedal thought.
    And so the abuse began.
    No one but Taye was exempt from Iman’s sadistic urges. Jedal was abused, and then abused again if he didn’t abuse. Slowly, his spirit broke. He grew angry at Taye– why was he spared this pain? Why wouldn’t he save them? For a long time, he cried himself to sleep at night. When he didn’t cry, he stewed with anger.
    Iman started talking as he hurt them. He spoke of how Taye was so special and talented as he folded and broke Geagi’s foot. He commented on how well behaved Taye was as he crushed Jedal’s fingers under the large blocks of marble Iman had ordered to build a spa house. He praised how strong Taye was while slowly bending Henta’s arm back until it popped out of its socket.
    Their mother never knew. She had had a relapse in illness and was forced to never leave her bed. They never let her see because Iman said he’d kill them all if they did.
    Finally, Jedal felt his anger at Taye grow to full blown hate when Iman boasted one night while meticulously lacing their backs with a barbed belt that Taye was his son.
    Jedal hated Taye. He detested him. It was all *his* fault that this had happened.
    One day, Jedal heard a rage-filled scream from the kitchen, and then a yell that sounded like Iman, but more afraid than Iman would ever be. Shortly after, nearly half of the mansion they called home burnt to the ground, and Jedal passed out trying to escape the fumes.
    He woke up, struggling to breathe under the crush of the wreckage. He heard soft crunches, as if someone very light was running over the rubble, and saw Taye’s feet. They were torn and bleeding, and he was breathing hard. He ran over to Jedal and a strangled cry broke from his throat. He threw himself against the marble wall that crushed him.
    Impossible, his six year old brother lifted the wall. Jedal found that, miraculously, only his left leg was broken, and tried to stand. He wanted to yell at Taye, to scream at him. This was his fault too. It had to be.
    Instead, he passed out as pain rocketed through his body.
    He awoke in a small hut. It was dark, and the blanket over top of his body was itchy. There was a boy there, a big boy. He was pretty old. When he saw that Jedal was awake, he grinned and leaned forward over him from his perch on the bed beside him.
    “Hey there,” he said softly. “I’m Son. At least, that’s what dad called me. You wanna get revenge on that Taye kid?”

    • EndlessExposition

      That is majorly creepy – I mean that in the best way possible. It’d scare the living daylights out of anyone, and makes you feel empathy for Jedal while at the same time wondering what he’ll become after suffering that kind of abuse. I do think his hatred of Taye could be a little more subtle though, unless the simplicity of the statements is what you’re going for considering Jedal is a kid. Overall, great job!

    • Brianna Worlds

      Thanks!! Okay, I’ll try to tone it down some. Basically Taye is one of the main characters of the actual novel, so I guess I was trying to underline that a bit.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Oh how gruesome. Sure explains a lot for a villain.

    • Brianna Worlds

      Yes, it was a little painful to write. But hey, strangely enough, Jedal is not the most tortured of my characters.

  5. Sandra D

    Once upon a time there was Cinderella and two evil step sisters and an evil mother. Cinderella had to do all the chores and clean up after the mother and the step sisters as they laughed at her for being so dirty and for wearing tattered clothing. But then Cinderella finds she has a fairy Godmother who grants her passage to the ball in a glittering gown via a beautiful coach to meet the Prince who will embrace and then she will run away leaving behind the frail glassy shoe, which he will find by taking it house to house trying it on till she is found.

    Let me tell you how I heard the story. Ever heard the phrase that it is the victor who writes the story?

    It was once in an old town. There was a girl who had lost her father to Typheria. Her mother had died long ago but the father had been dating someone. And the father would have married her but Cinderella would not have it. She had had one mother and so he told her sorry they could not be married. She told him, look Cinderella is lovely and I see how you want to protect her but she is just six, you don’t have to listen to her. I am sorry, he said. Okay I understand.

    But when he died who ended up with the girl? Why the lady known as the step mother. But she had a name, Elora was her name. She had black hair that had silver hairs starting to run through it and she kept it in a bun as her mother had taught her.

    Whenever she saw Cinderella though, she just wanted to cry, because this girl as lovely as she was, kept her from the man she had loved. And now he was gone forever. And so she wanted to dash the beauty out of her, because to her the girl was wicked, and she wanted it to show.

    When she had lay her two daughters to bed each night Elora would caress their hair. If only you could have seen more of the man that was to be your father. He was kind and sweet.

    The girls felt so alone not having a father, and they had lost their father before they met him to the war efforts. When they had found out what Cinderella had done, well let’s just say there was a lot of hostility to go around.

    But still Cinderella did all the chores and she put up with the laughter at her back. But when she turned of age to go to the ball and they were getting ready her heart seered with pain just like it had when her father decided to forget about mom and marry anew. She wept grief stricken tears. And then a fairy appeared before her.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Poor Elora! Thanks for sharing.

    • Sandra D

      I feel bad for Elora too. I need to write it better, but I am happy with the ideas. Thank you for taking the time to post.

  6. Tammy Murray

    Voldemort is a very well developed villain. I hadn’t thought about why/how until I read this post. But we learn about Tom Riddle’s unfortunate youth and it becomes clear that there is something there to empathize with. Thanks for the insightful post. 🙂

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Definitely, Voldemort’s an excellent one 🙂

  7. Dawn Atkin

    Every time I tried to do this exercise I couldn’t really think of a favourite childhood story. Perhaps this is because childhood was many decades ago. However Tony Soprano, the main male character in ‘The Sopranos’, kept pouncing forth, begging my muse “Pick me. Pick me.” So I did.

    The ugly face of mobster life in contemporary New York with its underhanded dealings, seedy clubs, back stabbing plots and luxury lifestyles built on dirty money intrigued me. It made me squirm. It prodded my values and integrity. And Tony, his evil dealings, adulterous philandering and pig-like behaviour, confused and conflicted me. My emotions spanned and stretched between hate and disgust to compassion and a desire to want to like him. At times I even wanted to reach into the screen and save him. Yes save him!

    He was born and raised in mob culture. Tony was enculturated and socialized into a system of values and attitudes and beliefs and behaviours that spanned decades, perhaps even centuries.

    He witnessed through his child eyes a father making decisions, pulling stunts, doing deals and ordering killings. These were embedded norms.

    He was mothered by a hardened woman who’d learned from her own childhood the tough edges of mob life. She mothered with the same manipulation, mind play and passive aggressive techniques and behaviours modeled in her own upbringing.

    Tony had macho responsibility and the mob power and expectation to exert it. He had business’ to run, people to keep in line, territory to protect, and people to prove himself to.

    Every day.

    Every day.

    He could not walk away, change jobs, weaken, soften, be vulnerable, yield to any inner conflict. He could not simply choose another way. Tony was trapped. There was no escape.

    Yet the conflict was weakening him. The hint of a natural inner light for compassion and love was constantly tortured by his outer self. Consequently he suffered and anxiety, panic, depression and indecision set in.

    Private glimpses of his vulnerability kept me hopeful. Callous, lying, thieving acts reminded me he was evil.

    Not born evil, I reassure myself. He was nurtured evil. He was moulded from his first innocent breath into a mobster. He had no choice.

    And perhaps the only way he could redeem himself was by making sure his children were not allowed to follow in his footsteps. He encouraged them in new directions yet he assisted them with the powers, money and connections, available to him as the leader of the Mob.

    Perhaps in this last instance he saw himself ‘doing the right thing’? Maybe, just maybe, this could break the family chain and weaken the inevitability of his own children inheriting the social, cultural and economic responsibility of leading the Mob.

    How long does it take to disintegrate cultural systems steeped in generations of familial relationships and obligation? Tony was a slave to the system.

    Poor Tony. 😉

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Thanks for sharing, Dawn. The Sopranos is a great example of villainous characters turned empathetic.

  8. Chloee

    I cret though the forest my paws gracefully dancing across the ground trying not to alarm the peacefulness of the forest. Allow me to introduce myself. I’m the guardian wolf of the forest. You may call me Wolfe if it sounds better.

    I’am ageless prowling the forest for till the ending time. In return I have fresh meat, water, and a warm cave which is a pretty good deal. But I do have to deal with the horrid red hood. She’s sileint but deadly creeping though the woods at night to deliver goods to her elders house.

    On the way she likes to shoot the creatures of the forest with the sling shot she always has and upset the balance of the forest. All the creatures of the forest run to their homes in hope that they won’t be on the dinner table at night. She and I had a battle resulting in a scar across my cheek.

    She likes to light the tiny torches and threw them on the ground causing a fire to break out and soon smoke fills the forest till the water warriors quich it. Not this time though I will be the one who puts her rain of terror down. I sniffed and followed the scent of evil the moved swiftly though the forest. My teeth gleamed in the moonlight and the tree branches rustled in the wind. I found her and grinned. “Hello little red riding hood.”

    • Dawn Atkin

      Clever and funny.
      Cute and alarming.
      Little Red Riding Hood will never seem the same.
      Poor Mr. Wolf. 😉
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Chloee


    • Emily Wenstrom

      “The Red Hood” — such an ominous, villainous name.

    • Chloee

      Thanks so much!

  9. Tea, the Spirit, and a Pen

    The back story of a soldier that later ran away and deserted those that needed him.

    He curled up behind the TV stand where no one could reach. The little triangle was hot but he knew he could sit there against the wall until Daddy fell asleep. But if he was hidingt hat meant Daddy would hit Mommy. He covered his ears tight tight tight but could still hear her crying. Daddy screamed louder and asked where he was but Mommy closed her mouth tight tight tight too. Mommy’s hair was so pretty…it made him sad to see it stick to her face with sticky stuff. Finally, Mommy had stopped crying and was napping on the floor. He was tired too. He stretched his neck to look through the holes and shelves of the tv stand. He had pottied on himself and Daddy would be mad but Mommy said not to leave his spot. He could see that Daddy was leaving; another dark green bottle in his hand.

    He joined the Navy to be tough. He had joined the Navy SEALS to be tougher. Five weeks into training and he was hated by everyone in the camp. He knew they just hated him because he was tough. They didn’t get it; he had a lot of tough to make up for.

    • Dawn Atkin

      Very touching.
      You’ve done a great job of using child voice, perspective and imagery. This works well with the ‘tough’ ending.
      Thanks for sharing.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Such a clear motivation for how he turned out later in life … and a heartbreaking story.

  10. Michayla Gussler

    The beginnings of a sociopath who attempts to murder his neighbor.

    Markus lay curled up in bed, water dripped from the ceiling and he pulled at the handcuffs around his wrist. The bed creaked and shook as he rolled over, peering out of the window tentatively. His mother walked in, “Hey, crazy, stop looking out there. It’s no use. You’re just not fit for public life.” He squinted at her, this evil woman who hated him only because he was ‘different’, she should be kissing the ground at his feet. She sneered at him and walked over to him, “If you want to go outside so bad, then I guess it’s time you went to school.” He closed his eyes and heard a soft ‘click’ as his handcuffs came off, he grabbed his wrists and rubbed them.
    “What is school?” Markus asked her and she grinned menacingly. Markus was in school in less than three days, it was boring. They would sit in a room called a classroom and answer math questions and write papers. He always felt a need to do something to screw it all up, mess up the false reality that all these people lived in. On one particularly slow day, Markus took the lighter he always kept in his front right pocket and went into the bathroom. He pulled toilet paper from the stalls and piled it into the trash basket. He lit the paper and watched the flames swim up the basket, smoke wafted from the bin and soon the crumbling wall was smoking too. He slipped threw the lighter into the bin and then his gloves, running out of the bathroom shouting for a teacher. “There’s a fire! The bathroom is one fire!!” He shouted as he ran into the closest classroom and the chemistry teacher gasped, pulling the fire alarm and yelling for everyone to get out. Kids ran screaming out of the building and outside into the cold winter chill, the building was blazing now and smoke filled the air. People choked on the black smoke and everyone was screaming, except for Markus. Markus grinned and laughed happily, seeing all this chaos was much fun. Behind him heard someone clear their throat and Markus turned around. A boy about his size glared at him and sighed, “We all know you started the fire Markus. Even though the cops won’t do anything, I’ll make sure that your life will be hell.” Markus grinned at the boy and patted him on the shoulder.
    “We’ll see, Alistair, we shall see. Don’t trust anyone, ever.” Markus sneered at the boy.
    Markus dreamed that he would get his revenge, make sure that kid would never ever put him down. After the incident he returned to his life at home, his prison where he brooded and planned for all the wonderful deeds he would commit. He would cleanse the world of its boredom. He worked in the same building as Alistair, he was a window washer and Markus enjoyed being an administrator. He shut off the video cameras and made sure the security guard was fast asleep. Markus climbed onto the roof and walked around, standing on the edge of the building and peered down the 30 stories. Alistair was down on his platform for washing the windows and he looked up and saw Markus.
    “Dude, get down! Come here.” Alistair shouted and pulled his platform up to the top of the building. Markus climbed on and clung on for dear life. “Here, have my harness.” Alistair slipped his harness off and handed it Markus. Markus put it on and gave Alistair a high-five. Alistair smiled and started going down to the bottom of the building so he could let Markus off. Markus grabbed Alistair’s arm and sneered at him.
    “Didn’t I tell you not to trust ANYONE?” he chuckled and heaved Alistair over the size, the man screamed and grabbed onto Markus’ shirt collar and they both fell over the side. Markus tried to shake him off of his body.

    “Aghhh Markus! I thought you were in jail or committed.” Alistair shouted at him. Markus laughed as the wind whisteled and the two of them struggled in the whipping wind.

    • Emily Wenstrom

      Intriguing start. I’m curious to know more about his relationship with his mother.

  11. Scott Million

    I instantly thought of Boromir from lord of the rings… If you hadn’t read the book and didn’t watch the director’s cut / extended scenes, you’d just think Boromir let greed get the best of him… when in fact, we see in the extended scenes that his father treated him horribly (loved his other son more) and basically convinced Boromir he must take the ring (despite Boromir’s objection) for their people. All of a sudden you feel for Boromir and understand him. His death becomes a tragedy rather than a relief.

  12. Ashley R. Carlson

    Question: My WIP is in first person present tense, from the POV of a young woman. The main villain she’s encountered so far is an abusive, violent man. So how would I go about creating empathy for his character? I understand and like the point you are making here, because it’s making the character a more well-rounded one, however I’m not sure how to go about creating that back story when it’s POV first person.

    The only thing I can imagine as a solution would be having my MC somehow “eavesdrop” on a conversation with the villain being criticized by his superiors, or something….which doesn’t really create much of that “back story” of empathy in understanding why a villain IS a villain…

    Can anyone help me with this? Maybe I’m looking into it too much. I see that Voldemort was listed as a villain with a good back story below, and to be honest, I don’t think he really had THAT much of an excuse for becoming who he did become… obviously living in an orphanage is not an ideal situation, but JK Rowling didn’t go into much more detail about him suffering from abuse, etc. If anything I would say that Professor Snape was the absolute “villain with a justifiable back story.”

    So in the sense of Voldemort and others, maybe Emily, you are suggesting that something as minor as the villain being “criticized” or suffering in some way is sufficient, and good just to have a more well-rounded and humanized character. Is that right?

    Thank you for the thought-provoking post! 🙂

    • Emily Wenstrom

      It’s a great question, and it’s a challenged I’ve had to deal with in my own work in progress–I’m working in first person too.

      One thing that’s helped me is a tip I got from Chuck Wendig’s blog ( Every character in your stories thinks that they are the story’s hero, regardless of what YOU think they are….they have their own justifications, even if the rest of us don’t consider them valid (like you said with Voldemort). When I write scenes with my villain with Chuck’s tip in mind, I’ve found that little pieces of my villain’s reasoning start to peek through here and there. My readers may not get the character’s full back story, but knowing it yourself can make your villain richer. Sometimes it’s not even about backstory, but more about understanding the villain’s perspective on the situation.

      As an example–have you read/watched Watchmen? ::spoiler alert:: Ozymandias has very sound logic backing up his actions, as cold and calculating as they are.

    • Ashley R. Carlson

      Hi Emily,

      Thank you for getting back to me-glad to know I’m not the only one who struggles with this in first person POV!
      I love Chuck Wendig, and I will have to find that post. Chuck and you make an extremely valid point about needing to look at the entire WIP from each character’s perspective (which is sometimes hard when you are writing a character that is so much from your own perspective!).
      I haven’t read or watched Watchmen, but will definitely check it out to see the example. Thanks again!

    • Ashley R. Carlson

      Thanks Emily-that made things a lot easier. Happy writing!


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