This is a discussion on "Introducing villains" in the Writing Questions forum.
The first question someone who writes a villain has to answer for themselves is the question if the protagonist is supposed to know who the villain is right away or not. This, like everything depends on the story. If it is something about intrigues and the suspense lies in the main character not knowing who's the one plotting against him, it wouldn't make much sense to introduce the person in question beating to death a helpless servant or something along those lines.
If the protagonist is supposed to know who his enemy is, the "vile introduction" might really work and probably better than other people just telling him how evil the villain ist. (The latter could add interesting twist if those "other people" aren't telling the complete truth and the situation isn't as black and white at all.)
If the vile introduction is chosen, it shouldn't be something completely over the top though. The villain commanding his army to attack a village, kill the men, rape the women and set the village on fire later because they're supposed to hide rebells/enemies etc. would work for me, this kind of thing is happening in real wars all the time and it would make sense if it happend in the fantasy world as well.
A villain who's abducting a child, cutting it into parts while still alive, roasting them over the fire and eating them/feeding them to his pet monster would be very likely to make me put the book down and stop reading. Not because I couldn't stomach the cruelty but because I can't stand such bland attempts to involve the readers' emotions that don't make any logcial sense. The same goes for the random killing of supporters, plenty of fantasy villains seem to be so fond of.
Takes all kinds of villains to make a story - though I have to say, the full-immersion introduction is a bit too easy for my tastes. I might use it for a secondary villain, but I like to think that my big baddies have more class. I especially like the characters who don't reveal themselves as villains until the reader has already gotten to know them a bit.
When i introduced my main villain, it was something of a vague description, i don't fully (or at least slightly less vaguely) explain their origin until later.
My main villain is going to be introduced fairly early in the first book, however it will not be revealed that she is "bad" until later in the series. She is also not actually evil, just motivated by jealousy. Seriously her triplet brothers are kings and she's just a princess?
"Not all who wander are lost" - J.R.R. Tolkien
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As I have scrapped my story, again, I think the villain always being there, and perhaps a friend is a good approach in my story. Started a new work with no villain.
Come visit my blog, and see what I've been up to.
My villain arrives front and center, first scene. Bang! Nastiness. But still mysterious enough to know nothing about him or his motivations. And then I'll leave him for a while and go off to develop the good guys and the sub-villains, joining everything up in the middle to play out in the end. Yes, I have only written the first act (can you tell?)
I'm hoping that the menace of the first scene will contribute to the overall tone I'm shooting for.
In my first novel, Firesoul, the villain is revealed slowly...and as he 'transforms' into the villain both in form and power and obvious nature, readers will hopefully get it. The published version is something to the tune of 436 pages for book one, and he surfaces as a villain no earlier than a third of the way through. However, a more dramatic conflict runs the plot up till that point.
However, my follow-up, Shadow-Walker (not yet published...but Contracted!!!), starts with the villain from Book 1 causing crap right at the get-go.
Firstly, sashamerideth, that's a very interesting concept of your protagonist becoming your main villain.
The way I approach the subject of antagonist is not necessarily to make the person (or creature or whatever) evil. I personally donít like the villains in literature that are evil just because. I want to know why they are that way. I hate stories where thereís good and thereís evil, thereís no real middle ground, and even the evil side believes their intentions are less than moral. When Iím making an antagonist, I craft someone who will stand in the protagonistís way. They have different views and/or goals than the protagonist and there is thusly conflict. I donít really like a stereotypical evil villain who just wants to enslave the world or conquer it. I want someone who has more depth than that. Thusly I offer one bold suggestion, donít make a real villain, just make some whose morals are polar to that of your hero and, more than likely, you have a more realistic villain. Someone who may be seen as a villain in real life, because, come one, youíre not going to see many Saurons or Voldemorts in real life.
I think that the introduction of villains all have to do with where in their lives they are and what you are trying to prove with them, if anything.
So assuming that your villain is well established in his villainy. Like for mine he is a nasty magical non-jihadist terrorist that has been in power for years. Seeking to reverse the order of things. So where I am at in my story he would be evil to a sharp degree. Not only because of his experience in the organization but due to a series of events that changed him from what he was to what he now is.
Also if you are trying to prove that perception is everything then the villain should not appear "evil" but simply against the perceptions of the her.