Ever watched an episode of Once Upon a Time and think to yourself: “How awesome is Regina?” There always seems to be something about the “bad” characters that makes them more exciting than the other typically goody-two-shoes type, and this holds as true for the authors writing them as it does for the audience they were created for. Now, don’t get me wrong; any fiction author will tell you that they do not discriminate between their characters. Each and every character has a special place in our hearts, and we really do love all of them equally, but even we can’t deny feeling a very unique excitement when we get to be the mastermind behind their villainous natures. So what is it that makes the bad guys so interesting? Why can your villain’s triumphs sometimes seem to outshine even your hero’s?
1. We don’t have to apologize for their actions. It is basically the job of a villainous character to be, well, villainous. Anything and everything they do, no matter how bad it is, simply cannot be held against them and as writers, we love nothing more than to be able to shamelessly grin over how despicably complex and twisted a character can get.
2. They’re more layered than other supporting characters. Every character is complex, but with villains, you deal with an entirely different species. Their actions, reactions, and thoughts all often require additional explanation, and the more you write about them, the more connected to them you feel.
3. Villains always have the best backstories. Us writers can really flex our creative muscle when it comes to the bad guys in our stories, and its entirely because we know that someone so damaged couldn’t possibly be the way they are without some serious background turmoil. It is through villains that we get to be at our most imaginative, and we love them all the more because of it.
4. They feel more real to us than their fictional peers. Real people, no matter what their shapes or forms, can never be perfect, and when writers are allowed to make a fictional character as imperfect as they want them to be, they find they end up relating to them in more ways than they care to admit!
5. They are the source of a lot of great dialogue. Villains aren’t villains if they aren’t intelligent and witty, and this is precisely what we as writers love to indulge in. Any fiction author will tell you that the amusement they felt while sitting for hours imagining up a good back-and-forth dialogue between their villain and other characters is simply astounding.
Creating a villainous character is so much more than giving a fictional person a devil-may-care attitude; with it comes a great degree of complexity, which is by no means easy to navigate. When you are able to delve deep into that complexity however, it truly is a spectacular feeling, and an even greater sense of pride when readers love the character for doing what they do best – being bad.