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Better at villains than heroes

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Queshire, Dec 10, 2015.

  1. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    So, technically this experience comes from role playing instead of writing, but I find that I have an easier time writing villains or otherwise people with nefarious schemes than more traditional heroes, and honestly I find them more interesting too.

    Compared to this, I always find my heroes lacking.

    This is really, kinda annoying considering how heroes are pretty important to a story.

    Has anyone else experienced something like this or have any advice to offer?
  2. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    That's one of the reasons I prefer a character that's a little more gray.

    If protagonists are gray, they can perform heroic deeds for many reasons, not just because it's the right thing to do.

    That's the kind of protagonist I can identify with. I would buy him a drink at the bar.
  3. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    Yes. Every writer has experienced this.
    Villains are just more fun to write so writers tend to have an easier time with them.
    Not only that but villains tend to be, by default, very motivated. You'd have to be to do evil stuff. And motivated characters always turn-out better.

    My advice is to practice writing stories without villains. Or better: hero vs. hero stories.
    Once I've started doing that, I've rarely had any traditional villains and found that my heroes turned-out more engaging.
  4. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    To add to what WooHooMan said, one of the common reasons heroes are tend to be more difficult to write at first is you have to know what a hero wants outside of stopping the villain. What are the heroes personal desires?

    If you don't know that, then you don't have a motivated character. And as WooHoo said, villains are motivated. They have desires and goals. They're up to no good but they're up to something.

    If your heroes are only reacting to what the villain does, it's boring.

    Take a look at your favorite heroes, they'll all have their own personal desires. For example look at Luke Skywalker. Outside of fighting the empire and rescuing the Princess, he wants to leave Tatoonie and become a pilot like his father, and later on a Jedi like his father. And he takes steps in order to achieve these goals.
    T.Allen.Smith likes this.
  5. Oomatu

    Oomatu Closed Account

    In my original plan for Islandfall, the villain was a true baddie, bad for the sake of bad. As I developed the backstory, and why he chose this side of the conflict, I found myself sympathizing with this motives.
  6. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    For me, my heroes tend not to react to the villains, but instead start out pursuing their own goals and come into conflict with the villains along the way.

    For example the girl trying to rebuild her city tries to sell the ore found in a nearby mine to raise funds for that, but it turns out the buyer of the ore wants it to build a device to retake control of the world...
    Last edited: Dec 12, 2015
    Legendary Sidekick likes this.
  7. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    Glutton, same with me. Also like you, a woman warrior is my main character. I think technically I have two characters of near equal importance. Anyway, both women are in a setting in which hunting and fighting is traditionally a guy thing. In that respect, there's an overarching person-vs-society conflict, whereas the person-vs-person conflicts come and go as main villains are revealed and eventually defeated. The heroines' lives do not depend on having a villain to stop. By focusing on their own desires, trails, errors, victories, etc. I feel like my heroines are my most interesting characters.
  8. Addison

    Addison Auror

    I faced the same oddness and few times in my writing. When I realized what I'd done I thought, "what the frick?".
    But it is more fun. For one thing, in life we work so hard to be good all the time. Good at our jobs, with our family, friends, good at paying bills and all that stuff. After being forced by our nature and life to be so good it's fun to create something so BAD. And after being stuck in a good life it's natural to know what bad would be. Seriously who here has been in any situation forcing yourself to be good to someone (jerk classmate, colleague etc) and not fantasized on how to torture them for their crap?

    Also, any time I feel my story is lacking the proper villain or the chosen villain isn't quite there, I switch POV to the villain for a while. It's fun, scary depending on the story, and really helps. Heck if I have the villain figured out but not the heroes, this tactic can help figure that out too.
  9. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Auror

    Heroes are pretty important to some stories. Not all stories. If you find yourself drawn more to "villainous" characters, most likely you should just embrace this as part of your storytelling style. Write stories about those kinds of characters. You don't need to write about heroes. No, not even in fantasy. The whole point of fantasy is that there are literally no limitations to what you can tell stories about.
  10. WooHooMan

    WooHooMan Auror

    This is actually pretty good advice. Try going for some darker fantasy stuff - bad guys vs. badder guys.
  11. Mark

    Mark Scribe

    You need to give your heroes serious flaws: psychological flaws that affect them, but also moral flaws that affect others too. And the only way for them to overcome these flaws, which they're perhaps unaware of, is to face the challenges of the story you give them. If you can do this then the heroes will become much more interesting to write and read.
  12. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Maester

    It may help to expand your definition of a hero. The hero can be selfish and a jerk and only be concerned with their own life and desires. You may prefer the "anti-hero" type of character like Punisher or Jack Reacher. Someone who isn't concerned so much about the law, but rather in their perception of justice.
  13. Velka

    Velka Sage

    Or they can just be doing it totally for themselves - to get rich, for revenge, for fame.

    I prefer to write very grey heroes and villains. I find it gives me many more options for how characters will react/what they would do. I also find it fun to play with the idea that if I can build enough sympathy for my MC with the reader, that I can then have her do something totally horrible (for an arguably justified reason) and leave the reader and MC trying to work their way out of that moral quagmire.

    "Good" people still have the capacity of being just as horrible as the villains we write, why not let them explore that side of themselves once in a while?
  14. NerdyCavegirl

    NerdyCavegirl Sage

    That's why I rarely ever have heroes or villains. I find such terms as good and evil to be far too limited in its description of nature. Every villain will be worshiped by some as a hero, and every hero will be despised by some as a villain. All my characters are some shade of gray, whether it be the faintest off-white or deep dark charcoal, and all their conflicting views have at least some degree of validity. My writing deals more with life vs death than good vs bad- things like natural disasters, illness and injury, powerful creatures and entities, starvation and dehydration, hallucinogenic forests, etc- and how they affect the human/elf/firekin/canid people condition.

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