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How do you prefer your villain/antagonist to look and act?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Wiciran, Jul 10, 2015.

  1. Wiciran

    Wiciran Acolyte

    How would you prefer a quality villain to look, dress, appear etc. What kind of looks are cliche? And how would you prefer they acted and how they interacted with others?
  2. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Auror

    I have a fondness for villains who put on a show, trying to convince people how dangerous and ruthless they are. Far Cry 2 puts it well:

    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  3. Well, and I think at this point I'm going to start a running tally of how much I say what I'm about to say, it depends. (1) It depends on what kind of story you want to tell and what you want to do with that story. I say this because for an epic fantasy in the vein of Tolkien, Jordan, and Sanderson your villain needs to be epic. He or she needs to be completely irredeemably evil. Sauron, Shai'tan, and Odium are all evil. That is all they are is evil. But they are also larger than life and god's in their own right. However, if you were going for something more intimate, like Sanderson's Elantris, the villain needs to be more believable and real (see Hrathen from Elantris). Also, I don't have a problem with a cliche villain if other parts of the story overcome that.
  4. Tom

    Tom Istar

    I've always preferred antagonists who are nearly normal. It just has a greater impact for me when the bad guy is a person just like everybody else, with the same fears and cares. It makes me wonder where the line is between ordinary and evil--or if there even is a line.
  5. ChasingSuns

    ChasingSuns Sage

    I personally don't mind reading stories using the "Dark Lord" style of villain. It is refreshing at times, however, when I see a villain who is more human. In my work, I basically run the full spectrum of appearances and personalities when it comes to villains. I think that in the end it comes down to the kind of story that you're telling.
  6. Russ

    Russ Istar

    I enjoy my antagonists if they are intelligent. Sure raw power or magical whizz-bang makes them more entertaining or looking like a tougher opponent, but I like them smart.

    I think the best conflicts in fantasy are those that end up like a chess match. Two sides trying to outthink each other.
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  7. glutton

    glutton Inkling

    Most of the time I prefer a badass villain who is close in formidability to the protagonist so they can have an awesome end battle instead of the protagonist having to resort to a MacGuffin/plot device to win.
  8. MineOwnKing

    MineOwnKing Maester

    I'm not certain that Tolkien thought of Melkor as being pure evil.

    I think that the fruit of his actions became destructive and therefore evil in the eyes of the elves.

    However the elves themselves often exhibited the exact same flaws as Melkor, or even worse, but they were still considered to be good compared to Melkor and Sauron.

    In fact, there is not much to like about the elves in the way they treated each other. At least the Ainur tried to give Melkor a chance to redeem himself. I found the elves to be less generous.

    Melkor created the Balrogs before he knew what the elves would look like; so he kind of made them with accidental overkill of size and power.

    In his strive for independence and as a result of his immense power he became trapped in a stolen destiny initiated by his own hand.

    Melkor and Sauron definitely became warped and evil over time, but their actions do mirror the flaws of elves and men.

    So in light of that, the only differences between them is who they decided to put their faith in and how much power they had (The Ainur were more powerful than the elves), except for Luthien who was half Ainur.

    Proof of the sympathy that Tolkien felt for Melkor can be seen in his form of punishment.

    Melkor was not killed but exiled to the void.

    I was almost sympathetic to Melkor when he fell asleep to Luthien's lullaby. As his crown fell from his brow, he is revealed as being weighted by obscene power and reminiscent within the music so akin to the music he himself once voiced to give form to the world.

    I think these types of things are important to consider when creating a villain of pure evil.

    What makes them who they are, and how do those things not only make them interesting but also make the other characters in the story interesting as well through comparison of action?

    Perhaps a villain should be a bit like Melkor: Mighty, yet not without flaws. Grandiose, yet fallen from grace. Hated, yet not without sympathetic traits which are pitiful yet nonredeemable.
    KC Trae Becker likes this.
  9. Ireth

    Ireth Myth Weaver

    For me, it depends on the story. Some stories work better with a Dark Lord; others are best with someone more human. I've done a bit of both, including one story with a Dark Lady. But my favorite villain (from my own works) at the moment has to be Prince Fiachra. In his novel, he's an arrogant, prideful, insufferably smug Fae Prince whose greatest ambition is usurping his father's place as King of the Winter Court. He's willing to kidnap, torment and kill in order to do it. But the arrogance and pride are only masks; at the root of it all is his desire for his father's approval, which he never got as a child. Over the centuries it morphed into a yearning to be a better king than his father could ever be.

    I've also written a side-story in which he has his pride and arrogance utterly shattered (not to mention one of his arms, in a very literal sense) after a conflict with an even more powerful and evil villain from another world, leaving him humble and in search of forgiveness from those he's wronged. Some are more easily forgiving than others, and it takes a lot for him to prove himself to certain people. Sadly, the side story is very much non-canonical, and he's still doomed to die as a villain in the novel. On the upside, though, writing the side story has given me a good way to make him more sympathetic in the novel, without hurting his villain-ness any.

    [nitpick]Melkor didn't create the Balrogs; they were Maiar much like him in the first place. He just corrupted them to his service.[/nitpick]
  10. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    I like mine to look like this:


    …bigger and stronger than several heroes combined. But the worst villain isn't a monster, but a man who is worse than a monster. What makes him worse is that he's not pure evil, but simply dangerous to innocents because of his beliefs and his position.
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 11, 2017
  11. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    I can't really write the Voldemort/Sauron/Emperor Palpatine kind of character. I can appreciate the basic 'evil' villain when the story suits it but it's just not something I'm capable of writing. I find the outward 'us vs. them' conflict difficult because I don't believe in evil. Lots of my stories are usually more man vs himself with villain(s) as merely a backdrop. It's hard to explain, but basically, when I've got a story in my mind, it's never 'these good guys have to destroy these bad guys'.
  12. Wiciran

    Wiciran Acolyte

    Ah, I'm just the opposite. Voldemort-ish villains seem to be the only villains I am good at writing lol. I myself prefer an in redeemable villain with such depravity that the reader longs to see them dead. And I've always admired villains who get very personal with the hero and affect them in a very deep way. A villain that is charismatic, cunning, and somewhat inhuman in appearance and nature always sparks my interest.
  13. evolution_rex

    evolution_rex Inkling

    I guess it's more of my problem with how I write characters in general than specifically villains. Usually my main character isn't the 'hero'. I don't like writing archetypes intentionally.
  14. AkamaruGames

    AkamaruGames Sage

    Personally I like villains who are relentless. They know who their enemies are and eliminate them immediately. They are constantly looking for weaknesses and ways to overcome them. If there is a fabled hero of legend that is destined to be their downfall, well by golly they are going to find that hero, kill him, his family and anyone who knew him. The protagonist should never be confidant in their victory. Nor should the reader. It should feel like the villain always has the edge and that there is a very real chance that the hero won't win. This makes the hero's victory all the more sweet if it comes, or if it doesn't, it only further cements the ruthlessness of the villain.
  15. Legendary Sidekick

    Legendary Sidekick The HAM'ster Moderator

    I want that for my villains too. I have one character I originally planned to keep alive, then it occurred to me that he really does deserve to die, and that needs to happen. If I do it right, the reader should be glad to see him go when he finally bites it.

    EDIT - To the guy that ninja'd me, I enjoyed reading about Hero's Journey!
    Last edited: Jul 12, 2015
    AkamaruGames likes this.
  16. Helen

    Helen Inkling

    I like my protagonists in white and my antagonists in black.

    Protagonists save lives. Antagonists don't.

  17. TheClintHennesy

    TheClintHennesy Acolyte

    I'm writing a story and building my world right now.

    My protagonists consists of a group of mixed people fighting for one cause. They are regular people who have differences and all have flaws.

    My antagonist looks like a good guy- but isn't really. He's a big boss. He has control and a lot of people just look up to him and he's always excused from his wrong doings simply because of his image.

    Then again, I'm creating this world based on the whole "Good Image" and "Bad Image" and the unfair judgement of black/white morality.

    I never really liked the good guys that have that hero image and I've always been biased to characters who were bad guys and gals turned good. :p

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