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blog Mythic Guide to Heroes & Villains — The Importance of the Villain

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Black Dragon, Nov 3, 2019.

  1. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    Black Dragon submitted a new blog post:

    Mythic Guide to Heroes & Villains — The Importance of the Villain
    by Antonio del Drago


    This is Part 7 of the Mythic Guide to Heroes & Villains.

    Constructing a proper story without an excellent villain is almost impossible. Their absence from a story is almost always limited to plotlines in which the hero is his own worst enemy, and the story focuses on him defeating inner demons.

    More commonly, the hero’s path is being blocked by an external force. Enter the villain. Not only does this opponent seek to hinder the hero at every turn, but at first he often succeeds.

    In almost any story, the villain plays just as vital a role as the hero. The antagonist is often the primary reason why the hero’s story is even worth telling. Without the villain, good has nothing to triumph over, nothing challenges the protagonist, and everyone just goes about their average lives.

    Without Darth Vader and the collective Empire, Stars Wars would have been about A Galaxy Far Far Away, in which Luke Skywalker helps Uncle Owen with the harvest. Without the evil step-mother, Cinderella would have been a story about a peasant girl going to a ball without resistance and marrying her prince without a hitch. Without Sauron, The Lord of the Rings would have told the epic tale of fuzzy footed individuals sitting around on peaceful grassy hills, and doing nothing.

    Some stories can exist without villains, but they are often...
    Continue reading the Original Blog Post.
  2. I think that often we, as new writers, tend to write the villain/antagonst as a puzzle piece, fitting it in to give the story its opposing pushback. I love to create the villains as full-fledged characters first, often spending more time trying to get to know their side of the story ahead of time than any other character. How did they get where they are. What hangs in the balance for them if they fail/achieve their goals. I want to make it personal. Once I've done that, it makes it nearly impossible to just plug and play with the villain role because I have to stay true to who they are as much as my protagonist and it always brings up situations and scenarios I would never have thought up if I had simply worked the story from one side.

    I'm reminded of Silence of the Lambs. We were repulsed, scared and disgusted. . . and yet, was there anyone out there who wasn't at least a tiny bit happy to see Dr. Lecter free at the end?
  3. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    "Lastly, I’d like to throw in a question: Is there a difference between villains and antagonists? It sounds like a textbook question, but it may not have a textbook answer."

    I think that the difference is motives. An antagonist is someone who gets in the way of the protagonist. The antagonist may have either good or bad motives. For example, a straight-laced police officer could be an antagonist in a story while being driven by honorable motives.

    A villain, on the other hand, may or may not be an antagonist. But the villain has corrupt, selfish, or destructive motives. The villain may not be entirely bad, but his motives are less than pure.
  4. Black Dragon

    Black Dragon Staff Administrator

    Silence of the Lambs is an excellent example. Hannibal was such a well-written and fascinating character that we were drawn to him... in spite of his horrible appetites.
  5. Darkfantasy

    Darkfantasy Sage

    Maybe I see it wrong but to me a Villain is usually evil. Not all black and white but their motivations aren't good.

    An antagonist can just be someone who wants the same thing as the hero but for different reasons and they can still be working for their greater good.
    MC needs to get a potion.
    Villain wants the magical potion to become more powerful and take over the world
    Antagonist wants the magical potion to save her family from a plague that is killing them

    Does that make any sense? Or am I talking nonsense again?

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