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How to Write a Villain [3 Tips for Writers]

“You don’t really understand an antagonist until you understand why he’s a protagonist in his own version of the world.” –John Rogers

This post shares tips for writers for penning a great antagonist. We love to read stories of villains, from a superhero’s nemeses to the evil stepmother. Great novels have some sort of conflict or struggle for the hero at the hand of a foe, so it’s important your character development is strong.

7883998_lWhat is an Antagonist?

The antagonist is the character that opposes the hero character in your story. He or she serves as the counterpart to the main character who makes trouble, provides conflict and could be considered the “bad guy.” Antagonists can also be main characters or the center of the plot; here are 3 tips to help you write a good one.

How to Write a Villain [3 Tips for Writers]

  1. Embrace Your Dark Side

Knowing how to tap into dark emotions is one of the best tips for writers looking to draft an evil character. Some of the best villains act in ways that remind us of ourselves, even if we may not be too keen on embracing it. When evil characters show their emotions and remind us they are human, the story is much more captivating.

  1. Give Them a Light Side

Even the “baddest” villains have a soft spot, whether it’s Darth Vader, Lord Voldemort or Long John Silver. Introduce your character’s back story and allow them to have a weak moment in the plot so readers can understand why they act the way they do; humbling your evil character allows them to relate.

  1. Balance the Characters

Good antagonists and protagonists balance each other in the story and drive the plot equally. Establishing balance is important for a compelling novel or you may lose your readers’ interest.

Creating emotions that readers can relate to, explaining the character’s backstory and redeeming qualities and balancing the personas are all great tips for writers penning a villain. Do you have any other tips or favorite literary bad guys?


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