the role of a villain

A post partially inspired by listening to Tarja (formally of the band ‘Nightwish’– I adore gothic/classical crossovers in music) on the drive home from work yesterday. This month so far has done exactly what I intended it to do, completely re-examining my plot from the antagonist’s perspective. Sometime between the tracks ‘Poison’ and ‘Damned and Divine’ it occurred to me that everything would be better if the ‘romance’ between the villain and the heroine was genuine, not a set up at all, on both sides.

First off, if I do this it would mean that I’m missing a good part of the story focusing on the heroine. I would have to display their relationship as aside while dealing with a bigger problem. I’d have to come up with another plot to thread in with the two I’ve already got going. But it makes the story stronger, it makes the ending even more powerful, and it gives me the chance to really focus on some of the important characters that I’ve neglected.

Villains, I’ve discovered, subscribe to the principal that hate is not the opposite of love; that’s indifference. Give the audience good reason to love your villain, and it’s easier to twist. His betrayal of the protagonists is also his betrayal of the audience.


Also, I’ll be starting my first weekly ‘Villain Month’ showcase on Saturday, linking to everyone’s projects!

4 thoughts on “the role of a villain

  1. Villains are sometimes the most important characters. I love reading novels with good villains. They make the main character’s triumphant ending a lot more interesting.

  2. “Villains, I’ve discovered, subscribe to the principal that hate is not the opposite of love” Heh, reminds me of a line in a Terry Pratchett novel: “Hate is love with its back turned”. So true.

  3. I ascribe to the belief that, in many cases, villains are just a matter of perspective. We demonize, ostracize, and villainize people we can’t understand. And it’s our job, as storytellers, to do our best to show this. Do all villains embrace their villainy? Do they ever find redemption? Do they even realize they’re villains at all?

    All fun questions to ask and answer. I think it’s so important to give our villains voices, because I think we all have those capabilities… it just depends what we let out and what we keep to ourselves.

  4. Oh, everyone can be someone’s villain. That all depends on the role. And pretty much everyone always thinks that they’re the hero.

    On the other hand, some people it’s hard to classify them as anything but. Hitler had supporters, people who followed him, believed in his logic, cheered for his speeches. But I don’t think that’s a matter of perspective unless you subscribe to the idea of the complete absence of morality.

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