Saturday, March 12, 2016

Four Elements of a Successful Villain - guest post by Josiah Dyck

Today is a special day, my friends! First, I am at my friend's wedding right now (so this post is scheduled to go up on its own).

Second, I'm featured on Stori Tori's Blog, in a post called So Your Character is From Canada, in which the other contributors and I discuss our country. Do check it out! I know the previous instalment, So Your Character is From Australia, was super informative and entertaining.

And third, my brother Josiah has kindly produced a guest post of his own for me to share with you! As a fellow writer, he and I are often the first ones to hear each other's story ideas, talk out the plot knots, and flail excitedly over the latest fictional development in our WIPs. And today, Josiah invites you into a discussion about villains. I'll bow out now and let him take the stage . . .


Let’s talk about villains.

Authors tend to focus more of their creativity on the hero. That’s all well and good, but villains are vital too. We shouldn’t simply brush them aside, or create them with a half-hearted effort. Without opposition, your protagonist will never grow; without creative opposition, your readers will become bored whenever the villain shows up.

Let me offer you an analogy showing the importance of successful antagonists. Seeing as my sister’s blog readership consists largely of females (if the commenters are any indication), I have tailored this analogy to that gender.

Suppose you are looking to date a guy, and you have only two options. One guy is the very epitome of a stereotypical young male: he lounges around at home playing video games while eating Doritos, he acts like an animal around his friends, and he tries to be suave around girls. The other guy is the polar opposite: he’s got personality, interesting hobbies, and maybe even a measure of class. He can be a gentleman around peers both male and female. He doesn’t put on an act because he can just be himself. Which guy are you going to like enough to date? (If you answered “The first one,” we need to talk later.)

It’s the same way with villains. You must successfully craft your villains so that your readers like them in some form or another. Their opinion of a story may not be as high if you offer an antagonist who lacks creativity.

“But what makes a villain successful?” you may ask. That is a very astute question, one which I will try my best to answer. In order to do so, we must discuss elements that enhance a villain. This is not a comprehensive list, but rather a few things I’ve noticed that strengthen a villain. I shall offer examples from various forms of media.

1. They’re human.

Close your eyes for a moment and reflect on some of your favorite antagonists. Why is it that you like them? Think about it long enough, and you just might discover that one reason why they’re your favorite is because they are human.

I’m not talking about being a Homo sapiens. I’m talking about a villain who is capable of being a real person, who can show emotion, who is not above flawed human nature. It’s a powerful thing. Your readers will connect with him that much more if he is deeper than those villains who think they can rise above the rest of humanity. That kind of antagonist can work, and I’ve certainly written villains like that. But we can relate to the guy who feels the sting of betrayal as much as any one of us, or that girl who has a soft spot for someone and will do anything for that person.

An example of a human villain is Loki (cue the fangirling). He may like to think of himself as higher than mere humans, but this is not so. He obviously craves some fatherly approval, which Odin doesn’t give, especially after the incidents in The Avengers. Learning that he was born of the Frost Giant race distresses him and causes him to feel betrayed for not being told this before.

However, what could very well be his greatest human attribute is his love for his mother. I’ll never forget that one scene in Thor: The Dark World that makes me almost cry every time I watch it. [SPOILER ALERT] Frigga is murdered by Malekith, and the sorrow of it all gets to me. The saddest part, though, is at the very end of the sequence, where we can’t hear anything but music. Loki is reading when a guard comes and says, “Your mother is dead.” Loki simply nods, and the guard leaves. Loki stands up, and nothing happens for a moment. Then Loki uses a blast of his telekinesis powers to knock over the furniture in his cell.

This brief scene—which lasts no more than ten to fifteen seconds—sharply conveys Loki’s grief and rage over Frigga’s death. [SPOILERS OVER] It’s a powerful moment that brings me close to tears and shows that Loki is indeed human. And we feel for him because we have also experienced sorrow over the death of someone in our lives. It goes to show that human villains are some of the best kind.

2. They have conflicting values.

I’ve noticed some successful villains have values that go against one another. This technique—which works for protagonists just as well—is effective. It adds an element of unpredictability to your antagonist. I first learned about this in the book Writing Fiction for Dummies. If you haven’t read it yet, I strongly encourage you to amend the situation. It’s quite helpful, with tips on everything from worldbuilding to writing queries.

But I’m getting off-topic. Every character has a value, or, at least, they should. A value is something that is most important to the character. Say you have a villainess with a value that says, “Revenge is most important to me.” This makes her more interesting than if she didn’t have any values, but she’s still a flat character.

That’s why it’s important to have two or more values. If they oppose each other, your readers will become drawn to your villain, because she’s now become a round character. Suppose she has a husband who’s dying of cancer. Now she has a second value: “Curing my husband is most important to me.” What’s the result? Hooked readers and flying sparks as the values collide.

You may have heard of the classic villain Darth Vader. Black-armored and caped Sith Lord? Has a bit of an asthma problem and fights using a glowing red light on a stick? Well, anyway, this dude has some conflicting values, which the abovementioned book briefly touches on. They are “Power is most important to me” and “My son is most important to me.” These are obviously going to collide, and when they do, it’s going to be big.

As it happens, they create some conflict on more than one occasion. And each time they do, we wonder which one will win out in the end. Vader, at the climax of episode 6, chooses his son over power—and it costs him his life. But it certainly creates a villain of intrigue.

3. They are unique.

Suppose we have an antagonist who’s really cliché. This villain plots and plans and schemes, but he can’t for the life of him come up with a splendidly evil idea. But not to despair! He has the ol’ fallback for all good villains: take over the world . . . just because!

Right. That makes him so interesting.

Look, nothing’s bad, per se, with the “taking over the world” plot. It’s just that it’s so overused. Your antagonist needs to be unique. (And if he is going to rule the world, he needs to have a strong motivation for doing so. But that’s a whole other topic.)

Too often, we as writers don’t infuse our villains with uniqueness. But it’s such an important thing to do. If you’re wondering what you could do to help make your bad guy stand out, it’s actually easier than it sounds. Think about some of your friends. What makes them unique? You may just get ideas for your own villains. He may dress a certain way. She might have a peculiar mannerism. Maybe he’s superstitious and tries to be careful about where he walks. She could be extremely paranoid about anything and everything. The options are virtually limitless.


There’s a villain whom I’m sure you’ve never heard of, and I don’t mean that sarcastically this time. He is a Beanish named Fawful, from the Mario & Luigi video game series. What makes this little guy one of my favorite video game villains of all time is his use of Engrish and his amusing food metaphors. For those of you who aren’t sure what Engrish is, it’s “a slang term for the misuse or corruption of the English language by native speakers of some East Asian languages,” according to Wikipedia.

An example of Fawful’s speech is, “In the last moments of the finale of the finale, when relief leads to negligence that begets rashness . . . That is when the comeback that faltered comes back and beats your pathetic comeback that I scoff at!” And here’s a food metaphor of his: “Now a Midbus battle will unfold like an angry dip of many layers on the chips of wildest hopes!” It’s crazy, but it makes Fawful unique, not to mention humorous.

4. There are many types of villains.

This probably comes as no surprise to you, and it goes hand-in-hand with the above element. Trying out various types of villains can help keep your antagonists unique. For example, there’s the sympathetic villain, who often has a tragic backstory that can shape him in various ways. The misunderstood villain is one who may have noble intentions, but others see his actions as evil. Some villains are loved by us because of a redeeming characteristic of theirs, but we hate them at the same time because they’re devious and wicked.

What about the villain who is purely evil and enjoys inflicting pain on others? One might compare them to the Joker as he was described in The Dark Knight. Alfred tells Bruce Wayne, “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” Then there’s the antagonist who is controlled by a higher being; whether or not she’s actually evil is up to you. Someone could even use an anti-hero as the main opposition: they’re not really bad, but they still don’t have heroic qualities, and could end up hindering the hero. The list goes on and on.

Another one of my favorite video game villains is one from Super Paper Mario, who goes by the name Count Bleck (“Bleh heh heh! Bleck!”). At first, he just seems like an antagonist who wants to destroy all known worlds. However, he is actually a sympathetic villain, named Lord Blumiere, who has lost the girl he loved. Distraught and convinced she is gone forever, he becomes embittered at the world. Without his love, his life has no meaning. He pilfers a magical book, known as the Dark Prognosticus, to destroy his dimension and sets his gaze on terminating all others. But little does he know that the book’s power has magically influenced him. I won’t spoil the ending of the game, in case you decide to play it, but it has a bittersweet finale that you wouldn’t expect from a Mario game.

For the Rooglewood contests, I’ve determined that not only do I want to use a different genre for each entry, but I also want to use different types of villains to keep them unique. For Five Enchanted Roses, I had a villain who went by the alias “the Master,” and whose real name I won’t disclose. Karnu was the name of the antagonist for Five Magic Spindles.

My friend Christine contrasted the two quite well: “[The Master] was fascinating in the fact that he was off his rocker. Like we’ve said before, those kinds of villains are super interesting and fun. He was manipulative and coy, which kept me guessing. But I like how Karnu is so confident and powerful. While [the Master] did things in secret and more delicately, Karnu just bursts in the room all, ‘BOW TO ME.’ He just oozes with power and it makes me nervous for our heroes. I like when books make me nervous. It keeps me on the edge of my seat. So, all that to say, I like them each differently. I liked [the Master’s] quiet manipulation, and Karnu’s powerful cunning.”

Is one villain better than the other? No, because they’re both different and unique in their own ways. That’s why it’s so important to try out different types of villains. They might be human, they should have conflicting values, and they also should be unique. There are other elements that make a villain successful, and, like I said, this isn’t a comprehensive list. But if you apply these to your antagonist, readers will definitely be more interested in your character and will consider the villain to be a successful one.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comments below. I’d be happy to answer them as best I can. May the writing force be with you!

Josiah is an avid writer and enjoys crafting stories for the enjoyment of others. He placed second in a Christmas story held by a local newspaper. He was also one of ten nominees (writing as Feral_Mutant) in the "Write Like a Ninja" flash fiction contest for LEGO/Scholastic. He thoroughly enjoys soundtrack music and owns twenty-odd albums. For most of his recent works, he has created playlists to go with them, and is working on one for Christine Smith’s Burning Thorns novel. He believes pizza should be its own food group.
Tracey here again! Wow, this makes me want to go brush up own villains . . . polish them until they gleam with a malevolent glow. Point #4 gives me ideas for all sorts of new baddies, too! And--I may be somewhat biased here--but I have to say that the Master and Karnu are both superb examples of well-crafted villains. Thanks so much for a wonderful post, Josiah!


  1. I like that a lot of the villains you mentioned are from video games. One of my favorites is Shadow from Sonic Adventure 2 Battle. I think that's the key to a good villain, is that they have a moment when you see them as a human. Great Post!

    1. I think video game villains don't get enough credit or attention. Some of my favorite villains are from video games! I must confess, the only Sonic game I've ever played is Sonic Colors. Dr. Eggman, in that game, was simply a villain for the sake of being one. So I'd be interested in finding out what Shadow unique. :D

      Yes, a little moment like that can go a long way in establishing a great villain. Thanks! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :)


    2. You're so right, Skye: that glimpse of humanity is often so crucial.

      @Josiah: Heh, I'm one of those who tends to overlook video game villains. Or just video game characters in general. :( XD

  2. Josiah did a guest post! And you're at a wedding! Oh, oh. And you were one of the contributors for Tori's Canada post? That is AWESOME. The Australia one was so fascinating, I can't wait to read the Canada one, especially since my own Tracey will be contributing. This is an exciting day indeed!!! :D

    Okay, Josiah, THIS POST. Wow. You brought up such great points. Every single one really made me think. Your examples were so helpful. Such as that scene with Loki. *sobs* He's such a great example. Because he SEEMS just like the evil-to-be-evil, want to take over the world type, but there's so, so much more to it than that.

    #2 REALLY has made me think! I don't know if I've ever considered that or heard anyone teach that before. o.O What a thought! You are so right, having conflicting values can cause so much tension. I'm storing this new knowledge away. It's something good for ALL characters, not just villains. I love this idea!

    I also think having unique villains is crucial. There are so many stereotypical villains out there. I'm ready for some originality! This Fawful sounds HILARIOUS. I'm ashamed to say I've never played those particular Mario games, but now you're really making me want to.

    I love those types of villains that you, of course, want to lose but are actually rather sad when they do. Because they really DID have good reasons for doing what they were doing. Like you said, there are so many types of villains and reasons for their destructiveness.

    Oh my goodness. OH MY GOODNESS. You quoted me! :D And I'm even mentioned in your bio. I'm so honored!!!

    This post was FANTASTIC and really has my mind churning. Thanks for sharing, Josiah!

    1. Yes, I did! And yes, she is... on both accounts! XD

      Thanks, Christine! Examples are always nice. It's one thing to be told what a successful villain looks like; it's quite another to have one shown through an example. Loki has got to be one of my favorite Marvel villains of all time. He has a hidden depth to him, like you said. (Can't wait to see him again in Thor: Ragnarok! :D)

      I can only recall it being taught in the book I mentioned, though I feel like Bryan Davis has taught it as well. I'm glad it proved to be helpful! ^_^

      Preach it, sister! :P I take note whenever I come across a unique villain, because he/she often becomes one of my favorites. Trust me, Fawful is quite amusing! I own only one Mario & Luigi game, and I'm currently replaying it for the third or fourth time, but the humor never fails to make me grin, smirk, or chuckle. You really must play at least one, if you ever have the chance!

      Yes, it's like you're torn between who should win the end. A book that makes me doubt if one side should've actually won is a pretty great book. That kind of conflict is just so intriguing.

      I sure did! After all, it'd be kind of egotistical if I compared my villains myself. XD And your quote summed it up nicely. I'm happy you feel that way! ;)

      You're most welcome. It was a lot of fun to write and got me thinking as well. :D


    2. @Christine: It sure was an exciting day!! (More on the first item later on...)

      Loki... *sobs with you*

      Okay, I really need to write up a more in-depth post on conflicting values. That is seriously one of the best things I've learned on the writing craft.

      Villains produce some of the most conflicting feelings in me EVER. They turn me into a screeching puddle of reader-goo. XD

      (Well, your quote *was* rather appropriate for the subject at hand.)

      Wasn't it such a great post? :D

      @Josiah: THOR RAGNOROK--WHAT AM I GOING TO DO WITH MYSELF? Oh, but never mind Thor. CIVIL WAR!!!! Ahem. *boxes up Marvel fangirl and kicks box into dark closet*

      Oooh, you raise a great point. Those stories that make us doubt the good guys have the potential to be reeeeally good. I mean, I usually want to be able to cheer 100% for the protagonists, but flawed good guys offer lots of food for thought.

  3. Wow, this was really good, Josiah! I've read a lot of posts on villains, but this one taught me a lot that I didn't know before. And it was fun to see some villains I know (well ... uh ... not PERSONALLY) mentioned in the post :D. I'll definitely be bookmarking this for future reference.

    By the way, The Master and Karnu sound like really awesome villains. What are you planning to do with their stories now?

    This is random, but which villain mentioned in this post do you think was the most well-crafted?

    Wait, pizza isn't its own food group?! That's a bummer.

    1. Thank you, Savannah! :D Really? That's great to hear. Which villains were the ones you recognized? Probably Loki, Darth Vader, and the Joker, right? XD Wow! That means a lot to me. ^_^

      Thanks! It was a lot of fun for me to write them, since they're pretty different from each other. Well, I'm hoping to write a six (possibly seven) book series that would be fairy tale retellings for the first five. The last one (or two) would involve mashing the characters together and having to work together. I'd probably start by expanding my Spindles entry, so Karnu's story would come first. The Master's would be the second, and then there'd be villains who I haven't written about yet, as well as at least one who's only been a secondary character so far. (Wow, that was a long-winded explanation, and possibly not a coherent one. XD Does that answer your question?)

      That's... a tough question. I don't want to give a vague answer like, "They're all well-crafted in their own ways." And yet that's what I feel is true. :P So, off the top of my head, maybe Loki? But I really am not sure. It's not exactly an easy question, though it's definitely an interesting one!

      Tell me about it. You would not believe how much I love pizza... XD

      Thanks for taking the time to read the post! :)


    2. Yes, those three (though I haven't actually watched the movies Loki and the Joker are in, I've heard a lot about them) and Count Bleck as well. Paper Mario is fun :).

      Yep, that answered my question :D. It sounds like you're got some awesome stuff planned for your stories!

      Yeah, from what I've heard and read about Loki, he's very well done.

    3. You haven't? *gasp* :O YOU MUST!... Unless you don't prefer superhero movies. But Loki is plain awesome, and Joker is just creepy. Ooh, you've played that game? I just finished it a couple of months ago, and I hope to restart it sometime soon. :D

      Thanks! Hopefully all that stuff can happen in the near future, seeing as I need to buy a laptop first. XD

      He truly is! Tom Hiddleston plays that role fabulously. :)


    4. @Savannah: I'm so happy you enjoyed it so much, and even learned from it! (I have an awesome brother. Just sayin'.)

      Gracious, the Master and Karnu are fabulous. Aaand this just gave me a future collaboration idea... >:D

      @Josiah: PIZZA! That is all.

      @Savannah: If you haven't yet met the Joker...well. I would almost recommend you never do. XD And yet you should--maybe--if you're okay with being majorly creeped out. "The Dark Knight" is a movie that I will not rewatch terribly often simply because of Joker. o.o That being said, any villain who can inspire such a strong aversion is quite skillfully crafted. Just--ack. Have you heard the music they play whenever he comes on screen? It literally makes me shiver.

  4. Thanks for the post, Josiah!
    I like how you started your first point: They're Human. Yes! Even larger-than-life characters need to have a quirk or weakness.
    Point 2 is also very good. It's interesting when an antagonist shares a value with a protagonist.
    Point 3 goes quite nicely with point 1, actually. Use the villain's quirk to be able to identify him when he comes on screen.
    Point 4 is important, since my favourite thing is when a book has multiple villains, each with their own strengths and weaknesses.

    1. You're very welcome! :D

      Indeed they do! A completely invincible villain is not one we can relate to. If he has a weakness, though, we'll appreciate him more. And quirks are excellent as well.

      I'd never really thought about that, but yes, that would be interesting. They would have the same value, but different methods to achieve their goal. Hmm... you've given me some food for thought. :)

      Indeed! Villains with quirks and defining traits or characteristics not only make them unique, but also are more enjoyable.

      I totally agree! If a book has more than one antagonist, it's especially important that they all stand out in their own ways. If they're all cut from the same cloth, in the same shape, with no variations... well, frankly, I'd find them boring.

      Thank you for reading and commenting! :D


    2. @Blue: Absolutely, human chinks-in-the-armor go a long ways in making great characters!

      Wow. I love that idea: the antagonist sharing one of the protagonist's values. The plot bunnies are now attacking, thanks to you. XD

      @Josiah: Heeey, this shared value thing--maybe that could wind itself into our planned dystopian we want to coauthor?

    3. I'm glad you are both liking the shared value idea.
      I don't think it is my original idea, though.
      I've noticed that when the villain has the hero in their clutches they often try to talk the hero into joining them, or even to see things from their viewpoint. At this point the hero actually stops and considers it, because there is something about it that makes sense to them. They have a shared value, but it's how they go about achieving that value that is the defining factor.

    4. :O Wow, I'd never that said before... but it sounds very intriguing! Indeed, both the hero and the villain have their own way of going about things, and that sets them apart. Take the method out of it, though...

      Definitely some writerly meat to chew. XD


    5. Ahhh, that's true: they do often try to talk the hero into joining them. Great point, Blue! :D

  5. Great post :) While I agree that villains need to be humanized, nuanced, and fully developed characters in their own right, I feel like a lot of authors (okay, I'll be specific, American authors) tend to overdo the sympathetic villain card. They make him (and it's almost always a "him") cute and funny and smart, and oh wait, he has a terrible tragic backstory. And then bam! he's the antagonist. I feel like they too often confuse "sympathetic villain" with antihero. However, Loki is a great sympathetic villain.

    Some great villains off the top of my head: Magneto (sympathetic but annoying as all get out), Kingpin in the Netflix Daredevil series (sympathetic, terrifying, and truly wicked), Moriarty, Orochimaru from Naruto, Charlie Pink-Eye from Rot & Ruin, Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men, Count Fosco from The Woman in White, Claudius from Hamlet, Iago from Othello - and I'll stop now ;)
    Great post Josiah, and great idea Tracey! And I love Mario, by the way. So much fun.

    1. Thanks, Rebekah! I do agree with you on your point: sympathetic villains seem to be one of the most used types of antagonists. If his backstory is just sad for the sake of being so, just to wheedle some pity out of us... well, then we got a problem.

      I suppose then, just like always, authors need to get creative and either use other villain types or craft a great sympathetic antagonist, if that's the kind they want to use. I mean, I'm fine with having a tearjerker history for a villain, but it needs to give him strong motivation for doing what he's doing. (And that was a long rant. XD)

      Truth be told, I've heard about a couple of those villains and seen/read about even less. I did read Hamlet a couple of months ago, and Claudius was indeed interesting... and utterly disgusting in some ways. :P

      Thanks again! Oh yeah, Mario games are some of the best. :D Who wants to play M-rated shooters when you can play a fun, vibrant game about a brave, mustachioed plumber going up to fight his turtle/dragon archenemy so he can save his princess in pink? (It sounds funny when you spell it out like that. :P)


    2. You raise a great point, Rebekah. Sympathetic villains definitely have their place (as do antiheroes, and they're not the same thing!), but like anything else, it can be overused. Sometimes I just want a villain that I can enjoy hating ENTIRELY because they're so evil.

  6. @Josiah Rants are perfectly fine, in my book. I agree^^ And yes, my favorite villains aren't really on the well-known end of the spectrum, but they were really memorable!

    Claudius is a major creep - but I also pitied the man.

    You basically just summed up most of my feelings about video games, lol. Mario Kart and the Pokemon Gameboy games (along with Super Smash Bros) are the games I can actually binge play (if I had time anymore!)

    1. That's a relief. :P Well, as long as they're memorable, that's good! Maybe then their sources need to become more well-known.

      I suppose I felt a bit of pity for him, but not much. XD

      I haven't played any Pokémon games yet, but I'd like to! And have you ever played any Legend of Zelda games? There are a small handful out there that are a little edgier (or sometimes a lot), but most are good. I've thoroughly enjoyed the three games I've played from that series. :D


    2. Claudius... It's been a while since I read Hamlet, but from what I recall, he WAS a great villain.

      I have to sit back and smile at your video game conversation. As Josiah well knows, I'm a pretty terrible gamer. If I attempted to binge play anything, I doubt I'd get very far, whether it was a Mario game or a shooter like Call of Duty. XD

    3. I haven't played all of the Legend of Zelda games (and I'm terrible at finishing them), but I love Twilight Princess. It's a ton of fun (only I AM SO BAD AT FISHING. I had to use caps, because it's so much harder than fishing in the real world. I was stuck fishing for over an hour!!
      But in spite of that, I do like them.
      The Pokemon games are so much fun. Only, all I really did was train my Pokemon and get in fights . . . so I'm not really a very legitimate gamer . . .

    4. I've played Spirit Tracks, Phantom Hourglass, and A Link Between Worlds. Fishing for over an hour?! That's... kinda crazy. O_O :P

      I really want to play Skyward Sword as well. It looks super good! :D

      I haven't played those games, but I wouldn't mind trying them. Maybe I'll eventually have to get one for my DS. :P


  7. Really inciteful post! I love Fawful. XD He's so quirky! And Loki is a very well-written antagonist. Ultron is another great antagonist as well. He's very misguided and like an anti-version of Tony Stark. He wants to "protect the world" but he sees it as so flawed it must be destroyed.

    1. Loki is awesome. That is that. XD Oh, yes, Ultron too! His misguidedness (along with all the incredible character development on the protagonists' side) made for a really intriguing and exciting movie. :)

  8. Thank you very much! *gasp* You know about Fawful?! I didn't think anyone would... :O But yes, quirky is probably one of the best words to describe him. XD Indeed! Wouldn't it be awesome if Loki got his own movie?

    YAS. Ultron is SUPERB. After watching Age of Ultron, I just knew he had become one of my favorite villains. And he's even got his own little quirks, like not knowing what word to use. "People create... smaller people? Children! I lost the word there." XD Then he captures Black Widow to show her his upgraded version because he says he has no one else to show it to. So yeah, he's pretty epic.

    Thanks for commenting! :)


    1. Aaand I forgot to use the reply button. Whoops. :P


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  10. *stumbles in and glances at the clock*

    Yeah, I'm only three weeks late. No biggie. XD

    SO. This is MASTERFUL! Geez, Josiah, I can't tell you how much I like it. (And how thrilled I am that you did a guest post. YAY!) You really have great advice! Crafting villains can be a bit of a challenge, especially when many of the villains we read about tend to be flat pieces of cardboard. I think I saw something one time about how villains should be reflections of the hero (not in the sense that they're the same--they meant like how a mirror creates a reverse image) who expose truths the hero doesn't want to admit.

    The examples you included were really interesting! I've played a little bit of Super Paper Mario and remember Count Bleck. (His name, though. XD) I'm not really into video games (sorry!) so I never ended up finishing it. Oops :P I highly approve of your use of Darth Vader as an example. *nods*

    I absolutely loved this post! It makes me want to go destroy all my "books" that I wrote when I was in middle school. The villains I included were so cliché. Oh man, the cringworthiness (totally a word) is palpable.

    Thanks for sharing, Josiah! You got me intrigued in your stories now (seriously, hand them over). Oh, and pizza is totally a food group. End of discussion.

    1. Actually you're right, it's no biggie at all. (Did you SEE how belatedly I've been reading your blog posts? XD)

      Ooh, I really like that idea of villains being reflections of the hero--reverse images. That's a great mental picture.

      (I'm not into video games either. XD)

      Don't destroy your old books! It's fun to go back and see just how much you've grown as a writer. I can definitely relate to cringe-worthy stories... You should see the first draft of book 1 in my fantasy series. :P

      Josiah's stories are spectacular indeed. :) Glad you enjoyed his post!

    2. Looks like Tracey beat me to the punch. Well then. XD

      I'd say better late than never! :)

      Good to know that it was helpful. I had hoped that would be the case when I wrote it. I don't know why it is that authors leave their villains creatively dry. But that's a good point! I'll have to remember that. :D

      It's a pretty great name. :P No need to apologize; not everyone needs to be into video games. I just think video games villains are overlooked more than movie, TV show, or book antagonists. But if you ever find it in yourself to play the game, I'd recommend it. It really does have an awesome story and finale. He's such a classic villain. It's kinda hard to NOT mention him in a post about antagonists.

      Like Tracey said, don't get rid of them. My first villains were so flat, paper would look fat compared to them. They turned evil pretty instantaneously. It was baaad. XD

      You're most welcome! I hope I can sometime. :) My thoughts exactly. :P

      By the way, the other day I saw you had a post about PotC, and I was going to reply to it... but lo and behold, there was no anonymous option. Is it possible for you to add it? If not, I can wait until I eventually make a Blogger account.


    3. What are siblings for, am I right? XD

      It was extremely helpful! Are you thinking of getting a blog, by any chance? You're such a splendid writer and have great writing tips. I'd definitely follow you if you had one! :)

      That's true. I personally don't think much about them, but it sounds like there are some very unique ones out there. (And a lot of them are probably better than villains in some books and movies so...)

      Don't worry--I'm not really going to burn them or anything. They make me cringe, but I could maaaaybe do something with them eventually. You know, make them decent enough that they won't make you want to throw the book across the room. XD

      Hmmm...well, I know how to do that, but I've been holding off on it for a little while because I didn't want to open up my blog to spam. I'm still considering enabling it, but I'm not sure yet.

    4. Tracey,
      Pssh, did you know I'm STILL catching up on blog posts from before my trip?? It's insane.

      (Glad to know I'm not alone. XD)

      Nah, I'm not really going to do anything crazy. As awful as they are, they're still my babies. *pets them while cringing*

    5. @Mary: Heheh, I feel like I've been playing catch up with everything for months: blogs, emails, beta reading... The day I finally reach the top of the pile will be joyous indeed. XD

      LOL, I'm imagining someone cringing while petting a prickly, ugly little creature. Fairly accurate when it comes to horrid old writing, right? :P

    6. Yes, I do eventually want to make my own blog! I'm not sure when; I only know I want to have a laptop before I start. Hey, thanks, Mary! Your blog would also be one that I'd follow once I had a Blogger account.

      I almost feel like video game villains have to be developed a bit differently than antagonists in other forms of media. Maybe it's because you're participating in the story differently? I'm not sure. I just played a Zelda game with an androgynous fellow named Yuga as the villain. He was actually quite unique, and possibly one of my new favorite video game antagonists. :D

      Or perhaps there're seeds of ideas in those that you can extract and use for something else! That's happened to me with a novel that I've scrapped. :P

      Oh, I understand. Don't worry about it, then. I can wait to comment until I have my own account. :)


    7. Josiah,
      AAHHH THAT WILL BE GLORIOUS! I look forward to bombarding your comments section. *nods* But gosh, really? I'm so thrilled you like my mess of a blog. ^_^

      Ack, I wish I could allow anonymous comments. Maybe I will sometime, but for now I'm just trying to keep my blog as safe as possible. Thanks for understanding! (And for reading my blog. Even knowing that people read it makes me ecstatic. *twirls*)

    8. I'm glad you think so! ^_^ (For a moment, I thought you said "gorgeous," and I thought that was a bit odd. XD) Bombarding?! *hides in my secret blog bunker* :P Yeah, it's a nice blog! I haven't read a whole lot of your posts, but from what I've seen, they're fabulous! :D

      You're welcome! I can be patient... *twiddles thumbs for a minute* GAH, I CAN'T TAKE IT ANYMORE! :P (No problem. ;) *grins at your twirling* :P)