Tips to create strong literary villian

Good literary characters stay with you for a very long time. Not only are they complex, but their actions make you challenge the worldviews that you’ve believed in. Hence, writing a character is no walk in a park. Sometimes, you can spend hours grappling to deal with how your characters can become real, more human. 

Here are some tips that you can follow next time you’re stuck on your character building journey.

  • Make them charming and powerful, with one flaw that pulls them down

Characters are not supposed to be perfect. They’re supposed to be as complex, if not more complex, than your everyday regular people. None of us are perfect and so it makes sense for our characters to have their own flaws as well. 

But, good antagonists are also charming. They have a quality about them which is enough to interest readers and always keep them on their toes. It can be the way they carry themselves or even how they choose to speak. 

  • Give a backstory showing how he/she went to the dark side  

A backstory is essential to build your character. Don’t focus too much on describing their entire childhood and lineage (until absolutely necessary!) but some backstory can help give context as to what is it that drove your character to become a fearsome antagonist. An antagonist doesn’t have to be just evil. They need to have genuine reasons that drive them towards taking horrible actions. This also includes clear, bold and coherent reasoning that can help explain the nature of the relationship between the protagonist and the antagonist. 

  • Link them to the hero figure, so that their lives intersect

The Hero figure and the Villain Figure need to exist in the same plain, connected by a very strong bond. This relationship is central to your entire story and hence needs to be very well-crafted. There needs to be enough reasoning, defending, or even explaining how and why they behave the way they do. Address questions of their history together and how the trajectory of their relationship changed forever. 

  • Give them some humane trait to balance the dark side

No antagonist is just a combination of everything evil. They need to have some shreds of humanity within them. This wouldn’t make them ‘good’ in any way, but more human. Humane traits don’t necessarily have to be an add-on. Just look at their negative traits and translate them into their weaknesses. 

Now that you’re equipped with these few tips and tricks, what are you waiting for? Your literary character is just a few stops away, so don’t stop now!

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