When You Fall For the Villain

Thursday, January 15, 2015


I'm sure you all know what I'm talking about. As Moriarty said on Sherlock, "Every fairytale needs a good, old-fashioned villain." What he forgot to say was that everyone loves those old-fashioned villains. Look around. Half the globe is in love with Loki from the Thor and Avengers (still not sure if that's because of the character or because Tom Hiddleston plays Loki...); Moriarty has millions of fans; everyone wants Regina from Once Upon a Time to get a happy ending. Why?


They have depth.
The best villains are complex. They don't wake up one morning and say, "I think I'm going to conquer the world and kill people who get in my way." Good villains have a backstory that builds until finally, they start down the path to the dark side. Think about it: Anakin Skywalker was told by Qui Gon Jinn that he was the Chosen One. So when Anakin's mentor, Obi Wan, didn't want Anakin to do to something on his own, he got mad because he felt like Obi was holding him back and underestimating him. Then, Anakin's mother was killed--Anakin blamed himself for not being powerful enough to save her. Fast forward and Anakin has a vision that his wife is going to die. He doesn't want to lose his wife like he lost his mother, so he turns to the Dark Side to get the power to save her. I'm sure you all know what happens next (cue the Imperial March).

It's true those are the most interesting. Also the villain has to believe they are the bad guy or else it isn't as realistic

They are misunderstood.
I'm not a big one for, 'Oh, they're just misunderstood.' It doesn't matter whether a person is misunderstood, wrong is wrong. BUT. There are times when a villain is completely misunderstood. Javert is Les Miserables didn't even do anything wrong (that I can remember) and he's considered a villain. He swore to uphold justice, so he can't let Jean Valjean escape. Javert isn't trying to be evil, yet most people just want him to jump off a bridge and leave Jean Valjean alone (too soon??). He can't stand his inner conflict of arresting Valjean or letting him go and eventually ends his own life.


They're human.
Even the most evil people are human. We can relate to them in some way. One of the most evil men in history, Hitler, adored his mother and flirted with Eva Braun. Thinking about the humanity of inhumane people is what really chills me. When I was little, I used to think that all evil people were easy to pick out: they had dark circles under their eyes and always wore black clothes. Then I grew up and realized that evil can be unrecognizable. Why? Because often--not always, but often-- villains care about someone or something. They are humans with human problems. And sometimes, if we think about it, we can see that if we were placed in different circumstances, we could be villains. Because we're all born with sin in our hearts.



Villains fascinate me. I love to dissect the 'why's' behind them. Maybe it's because I'm a writer, maybe it's because I tend to over-analyze. I've fallen in love with the villain in my Beginning of the End trilogy. There are countless pages in my writing notebook devoted to my villain's story and every page reveals a new detail. My villain's most redeeming quality isn't revealed until the second or third book: the person he wanted to destroy--the reason he became a villain--becomes the thing he cares most about.


What do you think? Do you prefer to absolutely hate villains, or do you like a villain that you can love?

Emily
xoxo

8 comments:

  1. This is great! You are so on the mark with everything! Especially the fact that because they're human, they're startlingly familiar. They could be us and we could be them, just like you said. It's fascinating to think about!

    ~Jamie

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  2. I wouldn't say that I've fallen for any villains in other stories, but I have fallen for my own villain. He cracks me up every time he speaks. These are good tips, and I'll try to add them as I edit because I want to make my villain more complex.

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  3. I think my favorite villains are the truly evil kind (nothing wishy washy) who are thoroughly developed and (almost) understandable. Some of my favorite villains are Claude Frollo (Hunchback of Notre Dame) and Svidrigailov (Crime and Punishment).

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    1. Claude Frollo always scared me so much when I was a kid. I hated watching the Hunchback of Notre Dame because of him. He's the perfect picture of a creepy/evil villain

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  4. I love your thoughts on villains. I think I need to re-evaluate some of my villains and the reasons they are doing what they are doing.

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Thanks for taking the time to comment--I read each one :)