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The Villain's POV-Necessary?



Hello, Scribes! Just wondering about the question in the title. So I'm writing this story with a villain sorceress, who is actually a bad person from all the pain caused by her community. Her suffering is the catalyst for all the misery she causes others. And although I'd like to write a story about her eventually, in this WIP, she doesn't have chapters. My intention is to portray her as a mysterious character that the protagonists know nothing about, although she is ruining their lives (and they do interact with her on numerous occasions).

So could a story still be considered well rounded without having the villain's POV? What do you folks think? Thank you!


As always, this will come down to how you execute the story. But yes, you can certainly accomplish this by leaving her mysterious. Having the reader learn along with the characters is an extremely effective way of increasing reader immersion.

When the characters unravel the sorceress mystery, if they grow to sympathize (not condone) with her tale, the reader can too. That can be powerful.

If you create enough sympathy, when the time comes to write from the sorceress POV, interest in her story will be greater. Think about Darth Vader before the prequels screwed with our image of the villain. His is a tragic story that resulted in the further suffering of millions. It's a story that peaked interest in his character through sympathy (what horrors made him into a Sith?), and resulted in kids wearing a villain's costume for trick or treat for 30+ years.
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If you want the villain to have any redeeming features, need to explain his motivations or have an ideology that needs exploring (even if its a despicable one) then yes - you need a POV for him (or someone close), if not then as T.Allen Smith says.

Noma Galway

You can definitely write a well-rounded story without working in the villain's POV (as long as you know the motivations, the story should still ring true).


Easily. We never get Sauron's POV.
Yes, Mythopoet is correct in pointing this out. There are MANY instances where the villain's POV is hardly ever explored. They are completely unsympathetic, never intended to be otherwise, and that works fine for the type of story.

However, since your OP stated you do wish to explore the villain's POV in the future, it's probably best to lay some ground work in the initial tale.

Most readers never clamor for Sauron's perspective (I could be wrong with that assumption pertaining to specific people. I'm generalizing). At least from the LoTR books, we don't get much of his backstory and, in my opinion, not enough sympathy to care for more from his perspective. Now the Nazgul...that could be tragic, interesting, & sympathetic. And of course, Gollum...sympathy-heavy in the tale and it works to great effect. Again, my opinion.

There are members far more versed on Tolkein lore than I, who could speak better on specifics. Point being, if you want people to be deeply interested and engaged in the villain's perspective, give them a reason early. At the very least, give them reasons to ask questions about why your sorceress became this horrid creature.


Writing from an antagonist's viewpoint can come in handy if you want to give them greater depth than your standard cartoon villain. At least it gives you the opportunity to explain their motives. On the other hand, if you're writing a story in which the villain isn't whom you initially think it is, you wouldn't want to spoil their identity too early on.


Article Team
The Villains POV is definitely not necessary to tell a well rounded story. There are plenty of ways to get a villains backstory out there without giving them a POV. There are plenty of ways to create sympathy for them without getting into their heads. You just have to think about what you need to get across to the reader and find a way to show that.

For example. You have a rampaging monster cutting a swath of destruction through a city. It's swatting down helicopters punching soldiers and tanks, but then say a stray dog wanders into the crossfire. What this monster does in this situation can reveal what's inside them without getting inside them.

If the monster stomps the dog, well, it's a good indication that it's pure monster. If it shields the dog from stray fire and guides it to safety, it shows there something more inside them. With the latter, we get a glimpse of what's inside and create a mystery about it.

IMHO you can do something similar with your sorceress.


Thank you all for your answers! I definitely agree that her motivations should be brought out sooner rather than later. I have it so that who she really is reveals in the first couple chapters. The protagonists have never heard of her. It is a matter of execution, as T.Allen Smith said.

But I want to make sure that readers are able to get some insight to the villain...but not completely. And come to think of it, there are several books I've read where the villain never had a pov expressed, but I learned plenty about them anyway and didn't feel cheated. Granted, most of the time no explanation is given.

Yes. You can definitely have a well rounded villain without writing from his POV. Think Captain Ahab. Moby Dick isn't from his perspective at all - but you still have an excellent understanding of why he does what he does through his conversations with Ishmael and his actions. (Granted he's not a really well rounded sort of person - but you get the idea.)

What you need to do is plot his actions and his conversations so that the reader gets the picture, and maybe throw in a little "knowledge" and description from other POV's.

Cheers, Greg.
Like people have said, you can use your villain any number of ways, from completely unknown (Sauron) to a whole series of stomped and unstomped dogs to show her by observation. If you think your story is stronger with her "unknowable" for now, just leave enough hints that readers (and characters) know there's some kind of pattern, even if they can't make it out yet.

But, TAS:

Think about Darth Vader before the prequels screwed with our image of the villain. His is a tragic story that resulted in the further suffering of millions.

The further suffering of millions? I thought you weren't talking about the prequels!


I'd say it isn't necessary and it depends on what kind of villain you want. If you want a pitch-black villain a POV might harm it while a grey and ambivalent villain could easily be improved by a POV.