The Myth Around Evil Villains

DSC_0704Whether its Cruella De Ville, Voldemort, the Evil Queen, Sauron, or The Wicked Witch of the West, (the list goes on) we all know that evil villains play a crucial part in a story. Though many grow to despise them, stories would not be the same if villains were not there to stir up trouble. Without them, in fact, there probably would be no story at all. Heroes would not be heroes if there had never been an evil force for them to conquer.

Everyone has the potential to do good, but with that comes the option for evil. 

The biggest lie that was a huge trend in past literature, is that there is always one or two purely evil beings who just live to make people miserable. We’ve heard the stories, the Evil Queen is a good example, but look at any of the fables or stories most of us have grown up on. The antagonist is almost always a malicious and ruthless killer who must be eliminated. And so, all of the stories progressed in the same way: protagonist is threatened or harmed by antagonist, protagonist decides to stop antagonist, antagonist dies, everyone (but the antagonist) lives happily ever after. Right… That’s a likely story.

In modern literature, villains have finally been given more thought. Now they have emotions, motives, and thoughts. There are sound reasons (most of the time) for what they do. They are shaped by their choices and experiences, and as such, they have a chance to change and mend their ways over the course of the story. This is why less and less of the villains in books are actually being killed at the end, but reach other fates: exile, solitary confinement, and sometimes, just forgiveness.

“No one just starts giggling and wearing black and signs up to become a villainous monster. How the

*beep* Sorry Jim Butcher, I’m keeping this site family friendly. 🙂

do you think it happens? It happens to people. Just people. They make questionable choices, for what might be very good reasons. They make choice after choice, and none of them is slaughtering roomfuls of saints, or murdering hundreds of baby seals, or rubber-room irrational. But it adds up. And then one day they look around and realized that they’re so far over the line that they can’t remember where it was.” 
― Jim ButcherCold Days

That just about sums it up. Villains don’t always deserve to die, and most of the time, they actually believe they are doing the right thing. So don’t you think killing them on the spot might be a tad bit excessive? Anyways, all I am saying is that a good villain must have goals and values, just like other human beings. Giving them this, along with a personality, will add life to your stories like you never knew. Spice things up a bit. An unpredictable story is an exciting one.

Happy Writing!


1 Comment

  1. […] an earlier post, The Myth Around Evil Villains, I talked about how villains shouldn’t be flat characters in your writing, and should have […]

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