Friday, October 1, 2010

Writing a "likeable" villain

Well, I've been toying around with a superhero/villain story for a while and (after catching up on some episodes of Heroes) I've decided to put all my other projects on hold and go back to writing this story. The challenge with this story is that there's 2 main characters, twins, who get powers. One becomes a hero, the other a villain.

So, here's the dillemma I'm facing: How am I going to write from a villain's perspective and still get the reader to like him?

I love watching sympathetic villains (you know, the ones you wished you could root for even though you know they're evil and will probably never win), but I've never read anything from a villains POV before. There are several stories out there that have kids placed in the villainous role, but still they end up being the hero (probably because everyone else around them are evil and they defeat them).

To be able to write a likeable villain, is the same to write any character:
  1. Readers need to be able to relate to them.
  2. All actions have to have a consequence.
  3. They have to have some morals and ideals - even though they are more twisted than the hero.
  4. They can't be 100% evil (just like heroes can't be 100% good) - that's just not realistic.
  5. They have to have a goal, and reasons behind the goal.
  So, have you ever written from a villains POV? What villains do you like and thought deserved to win?


JJ said...

Oooh great post! I love villains who are main characters (sometimes called anti-protagonists). You seen Despicable me? Now that's a great likeable villain. Also, I like the MC in Hitman. I think the trick is to a) give them an understandable reason to be 'evil', and then have god qualities that are admirable too. Oh! Daemon Salvator from the Vampire Diaries is the perfect example of a villain I love.

Renae said...

This was a fantastic post! I love those villains that you find yourself loving to hate and secretly rooting for. One of my favorites would be Damon on Vampire Diaries. He is obviously bad, but you can't help but love him!

Windy Aphayrath said...

I think one important thing to realize is that a villain doesn't usually see themselves as "the bad guy." They believe what they are doing is the right thing. So maybe try stepping back and instead of thinking about it as "villain" vs "hero" ... step into their shoes and see that in their heads, they are fighting for the greater good. For what they believe in. Hope that makes sense!

DEZMOND said...

oh, If Hayden from your pic was ever a villain, she would be my favourite one :)))
My favourite villain would be Poison Ivy, because she actually fights for the right things.

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