How do you classify villains ?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by valiant12, Sep 10, 2017.

  1. valiant12

    valiant12 Mystagogue

    This question is inspired by this video

    What is your system for classifying the different types of villains?
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  2. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    I don't classify them. Never even thought about it. When I read a book, I think of those I encounter as individuals, even the ones that are monsters or forces of nature. Classifying is something you do if you're a lit major or a critic. I'm not downplaying the function; it's simply something I don't do.
    Russ likes this.
  3. Russ

    Russ Istari

    Me either. I don't classify characters at all when I write them. No need.
    Last edited: Sep 10, 2017
  4. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

    I sometimes think about tropes and build from there, but that starting trope drops off my radar pretty quickly. Usually I do it trying to expand the number of villains, not for the main one.
  5. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Dark Lord

    Yeah, never thought about it. I'm sure it could be done... but... it would be more analytical lit study sort of thing rather than a writing thing.
  6. Orc Knight

    Orc Knight Lore Master

    I don't really classify them as such. They may start as a certain trope (Example: My Goblin King being classed as a Dark Lord with a Horde), but then I try to go beyond that. They're as much a character as everyone else. Delve into them and their reasonings as much as anything else.
  7. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Grandmaster

    Villains, like heroes, generally fall somewhere between two opposing ideas:
    Those who lead and those who follow
    Those with powers and those without
    Those with grand schemes and those who fly by the seat of their pants
    Those who are rich and those who are poor

    Here is another video that places villains into categories. It's interesting to think about after creating a villain and story, but I don't think I would ever go into a story with place my villain in a box.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 10, 2017
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  8. Mythopoet

    Mythopoet Dark Lord

    I avoid using the word "villain" entirely. In my opinion, it's too simplistic, makes too many assumptions and is full of dangerous pre-conceived ideas. Villains are for melodrama. Good storytelling knows that anyone can be an antagonist.
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  9. FifthView

    FifthView Istari

    I think it's a good idea to separate what constitutes a villain and what constitutes an antagonist, but I do think that villains are for more than melodrama and can be extremely effective.
  10. cjthibeaux

    cjthibeaux New Member

    Agree with mythopoet. Villians bring up an old cartoon, Penelope Pitstop to mind.

    Rather go with an antagonist or rival for the prize. The length he or she is willing to go to get the prize is what draws the line.
  11. skip.knox

    skip.knox Staff Moderator

    How to classify a villain: shave and a haircut, a new suit. That'll class him right up.
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  12. valiant12

    valiant12 Mystagogue

    Rival have a sport conotation.
    How many people will call a serial killer a rival of his victims?
    An antagonist is not always the vilan. The person who antagonize a vilan protagonist is an antagonist.

    By the way nasty people exist bouth in the real world and in adult fiction.
  13. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Valar Lord

    Where did I leave that Mallet... :p
  14. Annoyingkid

    Annoyingkid Mystagogue

    The difference is...that a villain can't be reasoned with, it can't be bargained with, and it absolutely will not stop ever until you are dead!
  15. pmmg

    pmmg Scribal Lord

    This sounds like the terminator robot.

    I thought the video was worthwhile, and she has some good pointers to bring up. Whether we use the word antagonist or villain would not seem to matter much to me with applying some of the things mentioned in the video. Like others, I don't really think in terms of 'I am going to make X type of villain for the story' but more so, I make it what it is and at the end, I might be able to go back and put them in a type of box. The boxes she uses are hardly all encompassing, and are general enough that I suspect a lot of story baddies could be stuffed into one of them. For me, this would be food for thought during a rewrite. If I already recognize that the antagonist/villain is fitting into one of these roles, I might decide to go and play it up more. Plus, she was cute. I 'd watch more of what she had to say. If nothing else, it just adds some other stuff to the tool box even if I never use it.
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017
  16. sPAm

    sPAm Journeyman

    I kinda never have a villan. I have strange circumstances leading to conflict.
    maybe I like to think every one is a good person. But I like the story to show way that person did that evil thing.
  17. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Istari

    I love me a well dressed villain.
  18. DragonOfTheAerie

    DragonOfTheAerie Istari

    But, on topic, I don't really classify villains. Each one is unique. If I were to classify them at all, it would likely be by motivation. But motivations are too complex to demarcate clearly, so that causes even more problems. Villains tend to act both out of their desire for an outward goal and the need to assuage an internal pain or other words, villains want something, like protagonists, but they are often screwed-up and broken on the inside and that contributes to the evil acts they commit.

    I guess you could come up with a workable classification system, but the categories would overlap.

    There's villains motivated by power, success, etc...

    There's those motivated by a cause or ideal which seems right to them, but either is accomplished in a "the ends justify the means" sort of way or is morally loathsome anyway...

    There's those motivated by hatred/anger/revenge...

    There's those who are motivated by fear because they serve an evil master who will squash them if they don't do his bidding...I guess this is Wormtail, if we're going to go with Harry Potter.

    There's those who are just pure chaotic evil and do it for the lolz...or are just monsters not intelligent or conscious enough to comprehend morality.

    But if you try to actually sort villains, they'll fall into multiple categories often.

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